Take Sharp Pictures Even Without A Tripod

Camera shake is the one of the main reasons why most photographs are ruined. There are often times when, in order to get a good exposure, the shutter has to stay open long enough to let in sufficient amount of light. While it is still open, the camera has to remain steady otherwise the picture will come out blurred due to the involuntary movements caused by your body. One of the worst things a photographer can feel is taking hundreds of pictures of a once in a lifetime occasion only to discover most of them are blurred because he did not take any steps to prevent camera shake.

A tripod is usually the answer to this problem but what if you don’t have one or if you don’t have it with you? Do not panic. Although a tripod would be useful, do not be handicapped without it. If a situation occurs were the chances of your getting camera shake is high, such as low light instances, there are steps you can do to still get a clear and sharp shot.

Keep your body as steady as possible by standing with your feet planted firmly apart, your elbows tight against your sides as you hold up your camera. You can also lean your body against a sturdy surface such as a wall. Hold your breath as you press the shutter-release button. It may sound silly but it does have an effect. If your camera is bulky and the weight is wearing your arms down, grab a friend or relative and ask if you can borrow their shoulder. Place the camera on the shoulder and after instructing them keep their body steady as well, use the shoulder as a makeshift base.

Supply more light to your subject. Use a flash if you have one, or move your subject closer to a light source, if possible. The more light you can provide, the less time the shutter has to remain open.

Another way to lessen camera movement is to use a string tripod (a.k.a string monopod). You can make one by tying one end of a piece of string to a ¼ inch bolt which you can screw unto the bottom of your camera. The other end is tied in a loop into which you can insert your foot. Make sure the string has enough length for you to normally hold your camera to take pictures. If you pull your camera up at shooting level and keep your foot planted firmly on the ground, the taut string will effectively lessen translational vibrations (up and down motions), and make the camera much more stable.

Most digital cameras nowadays have image stabilization features. It is automatically active with some cameras. To be sure, check your settings and make sure it is turned on.

Play around with your ISO settings. In film, ISO gauges the reception of film to light and in digital photography, it measures the sensitivity of the image sensor. ISO 100 is generally used because this setting gives you crisp shots with little grain or noise. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive the camera is to light. This gives you more options to increase shutter speed for better frozen action. The downside is there are more visible grain and noise. The more expensive DSLRs have been known to still take clear shots with fine grain even at higher ISO. Be familiar with your camera’s ISO limitations and capabilities so you can properly measure the settings you’ll need to use.

This is the time to take advantage of your camera’s timer mode. Most of our body movement occurs when we press the shutter-release button and by setting a two second or ten second timer, you are lessening the chances of getting blurred shots. This also allows you to be included in the shot. Just place the camera on a steady surface and check that everyone (including you) will be in the frame.

Be inventive by using a stack of books, or a table top, or a branch of a tree. Make sure the foundation is solid and cannot easily be moved. Keep in mind that your camera should be secure wherever you place it. You wouldn’t want to see that stack of books topple over and your beloved camera hit the ground.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 at 9:00 am and is filed under Articles, Photography Basics, Photography Techniques, Photography Tips. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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One response to “Take Sharp Pictures Even Without A Tripod”

  1. Partha Sarathi Bose says:

    Another way of avoiding camera shake while shooting in low light is using the mirror lock up feature of your camera (if provided). Follow the user manual of your camera to do this and practice accordingly to be habituated.

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