A Short Course Book
Using Your Digital Camera
A Guide To Great Photographs

Eliminating Camera Movement

 
 
Press down the shutter button very smoothly never jab at it. Pause halfway down until focus locks.
 
 
A self-timer icon.
 
 
 
Monopods are light, collapsible, and easy to carry. Courtesy of Gitzo at www.gitzo.com.
Unwanted camera movement when the shutter is open is one of the major causes of unsharp photographs. You can reduce this problem in bright light and when using flash simply by holding the camera steady and depressing the shutter button smoothly—pausing halfway down until focus locks. At slow shutter speeds, such as those you get in dim light, particularly with a long focal length lens or a lens zoomed in to enlarge a subject, you need a camera support.
 
 
The camera was steady in the left picture and moved in the right one.

Holding the Camera

As you zoom the lens in on a subject, you increase the focal length of the lens. As you zoom back out, you reduce it. On an SLR camera you can do the same thing by changing to a telephoto or wide-angle lens. As the focal length changes, so does the minimum shutter speed you need to hand-hold the camera without getting any blur from camera movement. The rule of thumb is never to hand-hold the camera at a shutter speed lower than your lens' focal length. For example, when using a 35mm lens you can use a shutter speed of 1/30. When using a 200mm lens, you should increase the shutter speed to at least 1/250.

When taking a photo without a support, brace the camera against your face. Just before taking a shot, inhale deeply, then exhale and hold your breath while smoothly pressing the shutter button down.

Supporting the Camera

When not using flash in dim light, you need to support the camera to prevent blur in your images. One way to do this is to lean against a wall or tree and brace yourself with your elbows tight to your body. You can also find a branch or railing to rest the camera on. For real stability you need a tripod, or an even easier to carry monopod.

Using the Self—Timer or Remote Control

Almost all digital cameras have a self-timer and a few have a remote control. Although often used to give you time to get into the picture, the self-timer is also a great way to reduce blur when photographing in dim light. Just place the camera on any secure surface, compose the image, and use the timer or remote to take the picture. Don't stand in front of the camera when you press the shutter button to start the timer. If you do so, you'll prevent the camera from focusing correctly. If using the timer to photograph yourself, point it at something at the same distance you will be after scrambling into position and press the shutter button to lock focus and start the timer.

When using the viewfinder for both horizontal and vertical photographs use your right finger to press the shutter button and your left hand to support the camera.

When using the viewfinder for both horizontal and vertical photographs use your right finger to press the shutter button and your left hand to support the camera.

If your monitor swings and tilts (right), you can steady the camera on the ground and even shoot up at flowers and other small subjects.

There are many situations in which you can get some additional support from the environment around you. Lean against a wall or tree and brace yourself with your elbows tight to your body. You can also look for a branch, railing, table or other surface to rest the camera on.


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