My husband was a photographer for a student council in high school and he took hundreds of great pictures using an old film SLR type camera. He hasn’t taken a lot of pictures since then, especially since we switched to a digital camera in 2002, mostly because I am usually the one behind the lens now. He did get his own digital camera a few years ago as a gift from a Japanese customer. It is a very nice little camera but hubby was disappointed that so many of his shots turned out blurry at first. He was used to just picking up the camera and shooting. Seems reasonable right? It really is a bit different though when you are using a digital camera.
If you don’t hold your arms still you are prone to what’s known as “camera shake” and believe me it is very common. And the higher the megapixels in your camera the more likely it is to happen. Also using the zoom feature increases the chances for blurry pics because the shutter is open longer. Even a little body movement can cause a blur. Over time you usually adjust to this and are able to steady yourself to get clearer shots but it helps if you are aware of the problem. Here are a few tips.
Self portrait March 2007
Keep your arms close to your body, especially your upper arms. For me this is a great way to steady my arms and reduce shaking. It seems that the farther your arms get from your body, the harder it is to avoid moving the camera while shooting. Also be sure your feet are firmly planted on the ground. I’ve even heard that if you hold your breath that helps but I like to breathe so I haven’t tried that one. LOL!
Anchor your camera.
Use a steady surface. Set your camera down on a stack of books, a countertop, or use a tripod or a gorillapod - I love gorillapods and I have a small one for my point and shoot camera and a larger one for my Nikon D40 dslr. Anchoring your camera takes the human error out of the equation. I also suggest getting the shot all set up and then using the timer mode to take the shot. Your hands won't even be on the camera so you will get a great picture. Of course this isn't practical for a lot of photography situations, but if you have some time and space to play with it's a wonderful way to improve the quality of your photographs.
and here's how the picture turned out:
Use a remote trigger
If you want to get really fancy you can even use a remote control trigger to take pictures with instead of the timer. This can give you great results for pictures of people since you decide when the camera will shoot. I'm working on an amazon order right now and I think I will add this fun little tool to my shopping cart. I'll let you know how it works for me once it arrives.
Here are a few more resources about how to avoid camera shake:
Photonhead - Camera Shake Enemy #1
Photonhead - Digital Push Processing
About.com - Camera Shake
Digital Photo Secrets - How to hold a digital camera
Digital Photography School - How to reduce camera shake
Blur can be part of the story
I've practiced these techniques a lot and most of the time I am able to avoid the dreaded camera shake syndrome. But sometimes it is not about you or the camera setup. Sometimes your subject is just moving so fast that you end up with a blurry picture.
what do you do when 16 month old twins come running through your house? Well, they certainly are not going to stop for you to set up the perfect shot! LOL! So in this case, I love the blurry picture because it tells a story. After all, not everything is always picture perfect!
Adjust your settings
You can use tricks like adjusting the shutter speed and use nicer equipment to deal with high action situations (such as sports photography). This is an area I need to work on as a photographer. There are plenty of great resources around for learning how to manage action shots.
Digital Photography Review - Action Photography
Digital Photography School - How to use continuous shooting mode
Digital Camera - How to capture fast action moments
About.com - Take Action Photos
Ritz Camera - How to photograph football (tips are applicable to many situations)
or you can always read your manual!
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