In the last post with tips for lovers of manual photography, I shared with you some insights on how to get to know your camera and master some of the difficulties that come with traditional SLRs. I hope you all tried out at least some, and made the ones that work for you your habit.
When mentioning the importance of using your right eye to look through the viewfinder, I thought of mistakes one can make only holding a camera. And also how the “right” way can help to get better results in low lighting. As you would seldom find film with ISO of more than 400 nowadays, we have to think about ways to hold our cam more steadily.
So this time I want to talk about this a little more. I think this is a good idea, basically because I never even thought about this kind of stuff before someone else told me, either.
Use the neck strap to increase the firmness of your grip
The neck strap that comes with your camera, is actually good for many things. So when you are out taking pics, don’t use it to tie to your camera to your neck. Use it to get a tight grip on your cam and get steadier pics as a result. Adjust the strap so that it is just long enough to go around your elbow and pull it into your hand. Then wrap the strap around your forearm once, as shown in the pic below. Like this you can counter the camera against your hand and lock it in, but still hang the cam back over your shoulder real quick…
The left hand is not only for operating the focus ring, but also for support
When you hold your camera to your face preparing to take a picture, be sure that your the thumb of your left hand (the hand that is operating the focus and aperture rings) is pointing away from you and towards your object. Like this, the camera will rest firmly on the palm of your left hand. If your thumb was to point towards yourself (a mistake made by many) the whole weight of your cam would have to be supported by your right hand, thus keeping it from freely handling the controls and the shutter release button. That guy in the pic below does it completely right… but don’t use the neck strap as he does (explanation below).
If you don’t feel steady, lean against something that is
Sometimes the lighting conditions of the place that you are shooting don’t allow for a shutter speed of 1/60 seconds – which is the speed you want to use at least to get a steady picture normally. So, in low lighting conditions, you might wanna grab your camera tight (using the neck strap as explained above) and lean against something steady like a wall or whatever at hand that can give you some support. Then try to still squeeze out a steady pic with a slower shutter speed.
Breath your way to more steady pictures
Another thing that you might wanna try when fighting low light with your SLR, is to synchronize your breathing with your picture taking. So use the tip above, lean onto something, take a big breath in, and fire away with your cam while you let the air out slowly. Like this your body wouldn’t shake as much due to fast breathing and you can take some steady pics.
Prevent injury of both you and your camera
Never hang the camera around your neck. I always see people riding bikes or walking about while their camera is dangling around in front of their stomach. This is inconvenient – the cam bumps against your belly all the time, and can be very dangerous as well. Especially when dealing with heavy, metal build traditional SLRs. In case of an accident, these metal bricks will easily crush your chest bones. Better hang the camera from your right shoulder and hold it with your right hand when needed as shown in the pic below.
These are just some thoughts on this issue, if you guys have any questions or other things to share on this topic, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.