Millions of people worldwide have taken an interest in photography, either through smartphones with impressive camera specs or through DSLR cameras that have the same specs but with greater flexibility. However, one thing that seems to be in common between smartphones and DSLRs is that images are prone to blur especially if the photographer does not know how to hold a camera steady while taking that shot.
Blurred edges and blurred shots, as a whole, are usually caused by camera shake brought about either by a poorly installed lens or by external forces like a photographer laughing or experiencing chills and whatnot. These images are typical for beginners, but consistently doing so as you progress with your hobby or profession means you’re not serious about improving or you’re attempting to bring blur into its own art form, which should be interesting, to say the least.
Knowing how to hold a camera steady means familiarizing yourself with the different techniques and equipment that advanced and professional photographers use to get the same caliber of shots that they have been known and paid for. These techniques can be categorized into two main methods–manual and mechanical, which means that you can hold a camera steady by using body poses and attachments and equipment that lessen the strain on your body.
Each of these categories has been proven to deliver stable images, and professional photographers repeatedly use them on a daily basis. Manual methods take time to practice and perfect while mechanical methods may cost more, but it can bring you closer to getting those steady shots faster.
As previously mentioned, manual methods or techniques involve using your body through various poses to reduce camera shake and get that blur-free image that any photographer strives for. Both smartphones and DSLR cameras can use these poses, you just need to adapt to how you hold the cameras in relation to the pose that you want to do.
Here are the manual techniques for holding your camera steady:
Taking steady shots with a camera involves how well you stand up, sit down or prop yourself wherever you are taking the photo from. This applies to both manual and mechanical methods as posture plays an essential part in holding the camera steady.
Stand up loosely and then tuck your elbows in–close against your chest–to get the best blur-free shots. Use your non-dominant hand to hold the lens, and keep it steady. Never keep it slack on the side, it should always be supporting the dominant hand in holding the camera. Here is a step-by-step guide to doing this:
Step 1: Keep your feet apart, spreading your legs shoulder width at least.
Step 2: Lean slightly towards the camera while holding it tightly against your forehead.
Step 3: You may opt to lean backward for a better angle if needed, but the most important part here is that both arms are supporting the camera.
There is no right or wrong way to capture images while sitting down as you have a better balance since the center of gravity is lower as well. As always, use both hands to support the camera, with the non-dominant hand cradling the lens.
When your subject is positioned lower than your line of vision or if you need a stable shot, then you can opt to lie down on your stomach and use your hands to support the camera. This technique delivers more stable images as the ground is supporting both arms that are supporting your camera.
This technique can be used sitting down, but it is commonly used while standing up. Assume a standing position, and angle your body towards your non-dominant side, basically angling to the left if your right-handed and vice versa.
With your non-dominant hand, support the lens from underneath, raise the connected shoulder, and rest the elbows on your chest. Exhale completely before firing the camera trigger.
This technique is more suited for seated positions as you have to fold one of your legs to keep the kneecaps at shoulder level. You can accomplish this by raising your knee then placing your elbows and arms on top of it to get better stability. This particular technique is not as tiring as standing up and sitting down while offering better stability.
A difficult pose to execute and maintain, this technique uses the non-dominant elbow, arms folded towards the chest, as the lens support instead of the non-dominant hand.
Not everybody can pull off the manual poses and techniques that were previously listed, possibly due to physical limitations or stubbornness. This is where mechanical techniques would come in handy as they are specially designed to meet the stability needs of photographers and videographers alike.
Camera stabilizers or gimbal stabilizers are unique camera attachments that add stability and versatility to any camera kit. Often having arms or handles, this attachment utilizes three motorized axes that are interconnected which compensate for sudden movements. The handles and arms are used to tilt and set the camera to the best possible angle.
Shoulder attachments function like gimbal stabilizers although it is less versatile and the movements are restricted to the flexibility of your torso. An advantage of shoulder attachment is that it is hands-free and lessens the strain on the arms from carrying a camera around.
Tripods are probably the most popular way of getting stability when you need it. It is not as flexible as a gimbal stabilizer, but it offers better stability, especially when using it on solid ground.
This attachment is made more for mobile phones than DSLRs, but selfie sticks allow you to extend your reach and capture photos at unique angles. The stability provided by selfie sticks is not as great as the previous mechanical devices as it merely acts as an extension of your arm.
Camera stability is an important aspect of photography as it allows the photographer to produce detailed and distortion-free images. Stabilizing techniques are available to be learned, while attachments can be purchased to take your photography to the next level.