This is the fourth in a series of articles discussing some of the photography techniques I’ve learned and employ when I’m out on a shoot.
This may seem like a stupid thing to write about – I mean you hold a camera in your hands, end of story. Right? Well not really. How you hold your camera has a great influence on how sharp the photo you take will be, how well composed it is, and if you’re taking a picture of something that’s moving (like a bird) then you have to be comfortable and be able to react quickly – and proper handling technique will make that a lot easier.
Like holding a rifle, you need to be able to hold the camera steady for extended periods without it causing you any strain. If you’re taking a picture of a scene, you want to be able to concentrate on composing it through the viewfinder without the feeling that you can only hold the camera for a few seconds. Here’s the standard way that I hold a camera:
Basically, I’m holding the camera’s weight entirely with my left hand while the right hand is just steadying it and using the controls to change the exposure. By keeping my elbows close to my body I’m providing a stable base, my arms won’t get tired and I can hold the camera in that position for ages feeling quite relaxed.
If you’re not relaxed and steady when you’re taking a picture you’ll rush the shot, won’t compose it properly and most likely produce slightly blurred results and inevitable disappointment.
Most of the photos I take are landscapes so are taken on a tripod. This means I can take as long as I like to compose the picture, make sure everything is lined up, then take the shot on a cable release without moving the camera at all. But when I do take a hand-held shot I want to try and reproduce that solidity and stability offered by the tripod and the best way to successfully do this (without a mono-pod or a wall to rest on) is to use the technique above. Watch paparazzi taking photos of a celebrity or at a football match and you’ll notice this is what they do – and loath them as you might, they know how to handle a camera!
Next: All The Gear, Some Idea.