A Short Course Book
Digital Desktop Studio Photography
The Complete Guide To Lighting and Photographing Small Objects with your Digital Camera

Supporting the Camera

 
Tripod leg sets vary in their height, stability, weight, and ease of use. Courtesy of Gitzo.
 
 
The tripod head is used to position the camera and lock it in place. Courtesy of Gitzo
 
 
If your camera has a hot shoe, a bubble level can ensure your camera is absolutely level.
 
 
A quick release system lets you quickly mount and unmount a camera on a tripod head.
 
 
A cable release (top) or wireless remote control (bottom) lets you trigger the shutter from a distance.
 
 
Most cameras have a selftimer mode.
Any camera or subject movement when the shutter is open will cause some blur in the image. It may not be noticeable at some image sizes, but it will be there. In the digital desktop studio, the subject rarely moves so if you can keep the camera from moving your images are guaranteed to be free of blur even at slow shutter speeds. There are two parts to this equation, securely mounting the camera and then triggering the shutter without introducing motion through camera shake.

To securely mount a camera for studio photography, you use a support of some kind. These come in a bewildering variety of sizes and styles. The largest type, called a studio stand, is rock solid but impractical for most users due to its size and cost. The common tripod is widely used in studios and comes in two parts—the leg set and the head. Leg sets vary in stability and ease of use, as well as how high they can be raised. Heads vary in their ease of use, especially when making fine adjustments in the camera's position. Many tripods have accessories. One that's popular in the studio is a horizontal bar that cantilevers the camera out and away from the tripod so you can shoot straight down.

A quick release system lets you mount and unmount a camera quickly and easily. Once you have used one of these you will wonder how you ever lived without it. One of these systems has two parts. A clamp mounts on the tripod and a plate screws into the camera's tripod mount. To mate the two, you slide the plate into the clamp and tighten it in place with a screw or clamp. To release it you just press a button or lever.

To trigger the camera's shutter without moving the camera even slightly, you need a self-timer, remote control, or cable release. One of the best solutions, and one that's available on every camera, is the self-timer. When you turn it on and then press the shutter button, about 10 seconds pass before the picture is taken. During this time, the camera should become very stable as any vibrations subside.

Keep in mind that it can be very difficult to evaluate image sharpness on the camera's monitor unless you zoom the image in playback mode. Even then, very subtle blur won't show until you enlarge the image on your computer.

A horizontal bar lets you shoot straight down on a subject.

Studio stands (right) are heavyweight camera supports fit only for use in large studios.


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