How To Hold A Camera Vertically

By | 19/08/2022

When taking pictures, ane of the biggest frustrations one can experience is camera shake, which often happens every bit a result of the way the camera is held at lower shutter speeds. Properly hand-holding a camera can drastically reduce human-induced camera shake and result in many more precipitous images and keepers. In this article, we will hash out a few different ways to agree a camera, which will hopefully reduce and potentially even eliminate unwanted blurry images when you are shooting in the field.

With and Without Camera Shake

As you may already know, many cameras today come with specific features to help avoid the dreaded camera milk shake. Some cameras have image stabilization built directly into the camera sensor, while others might accept image stabilization available on the lens, and some even combine camera and lens stabilization to go the best of the two worlds. In add-on, many modern cameras today come up with the power to automatically control the camera ISO (often referred to every bit “Auto ISO“) in order to keep the shutter speed fast enough for the focal length ane is using (for more details run into reciprocal rule). While using such features tin can certainly assistance in reducing camera shake, it does not injure to take additional measures to learn how to properly hand-hold a camera and that’southward exactly what we are going to exercise next!

Table of Contents

1) What is Camera Shake?

Camera shake occurs when the photographic camera is unintentionally moved while the shutter speed of the camera is likewise low to capture a perfectly yet image. The resulting prototype either looks blurry, or shows traces of “dragging” of the subjects, where multiple outlines could be visible around the subjects. Camera shake due to slow shutter speed typically takes identify in low-light conditions when at that place is non enough calorie-free for the camera to yield a sufficiently bright image, or when exposure settings are set upwards incorrectly. For case, it is frequently needed to open up upwardly lens discontinuity as much as possible and increase camera ISO when shooting in indoor environments, considering the corporeality of ambient light is too low. And when there is not enough light, the camera’due south shutter speed must be slowed down to yield a properly exposed prototype (to understand the human relationship between the three exposure variables, please see our article on Exposure Triangle).

2) The Relationship Between Shutter Speed and Focal Length: The Reciprocal Dominion

If the shutter speed is likewise low for a given focal length of the lens, even slight movements to the camera can result in camera milk shake. It is important to understand the relationship between shutter speed and focal length in photography – as focal length increases, one has to simultaneously increase the shutter speed in gild to avert blur caused past from camera shake. Take a look at the below illustration:

Focal Length and Camera Shake
Yous can come across how the potential for camera shake is increased with the increase in focal length. The red-dotted lines that represent the potential limit of how much the camera can shake when hand-held have a much shorter span at 80mm than at 400mm. That’s because camera shake is magnified with increase in focal length.

As you tin see, the longer the focal length of a lens, the bigger the likelihood of seeing camera milkshake, since every motility is so much more amplified. If 1 understands this human relationship well in practice, it is possible to avoid camera shake by keeping the shutter speed equal to the focal length of a lens, which is known every bit the Reciprocal Rule (I highly recommend that yous give this article a read, since everything is explained in detail there).

Please proceed in mind that the reciprocal rule is only a guideline to avoid camera shake – if one does a poor chore at hand-holding a photographic camera, much faster shutter speeds might be required in club to keep blur out of images. Therefore, it is important to know how to properly hand-agree a camera!

3) Hand-Holding Techniques

Permit’s talk nigh a few hand-holding techniques that will help you eliminating camera shake and yielding sharp images. Here is a video clip excerpt from 1 of our complimentary courses, where John and I cover a few dissimilar mitt-holding techniques that aid avert camera shake:

As you lot tin see, yous tin can take a few uncomplicated steps to make sure that your photographic camera is steady on your hands.

3.ane) How to Hold a Photographic camera in Standing Position

When you are in a regular standing position, use the below tips to avoid camera milkshake:

  1. Place your anxiety perpendicular to your subject: when paw-property a camera, you typically have more balance when standing perpendicular to your subject field, since there is less back and forth move of your trunk compared to when standing parallel to your bailiwick. If yous have ever shot with an automatic rifle, you know that this standing position works very well, since there is quite a bit of recoil caused by the gun and continuing sideways makes it easier to absorb each shot. So if you apply the same principle to shooting with a photographic camera, information technology will surely work!
  2. Push your elbows into your sides: you want to avoid existence in a “flapping” position with your elbows, because they volition constantly motility, causing your hands to move as well. Instead, tuck your elbows in and rest them against your body. Your body will serve equally a resting spot for your elbows, which volition not only assist stabilize your hands, merely also let them residuum better when holding heavy gear.
  3. Hold camera at rest point: with every camera and lens combination, there is e’er going to be a betoken at which the photographic camera setup won’t be neither forepart nor back-heavy. If you put your hand right at this signal and permit the camera rest on it, you will achieve good residual, which will make it easier to hand-hold the camera for extended periods of time, since yous don’t have to fight the weight on either side of the paw.
  4. Hold camera to your confront: while some of us might prefer to use the dorsum of the photographic camera screen to frame images, shooting with your arms extended is always going to introduce more photographic camera shake. If your photographic camera has a viewfinder, yous will find that holding the photographic camera to your face will go far easier to stabilize the setup.
  5. Push the camera to your head: one time your artillery are close to your body and fully tucked in, you can help stabilize the camera even more by slightly pushing the camera against your caput.
  6. Bonus tip – breathe out right before squeezing the shutter release: Over again, this trick is known to those who have served in the armed services or have experience shooting long-range rifles. If you slowly breathe out correct before squeezing the shutter release, you have a higher take chances of avoiding camera shake, because your body is not moving every bit much as it does when y’all heavily breathe.

Here is John showing how to take the in a higher place into practice:

How to Hold a Camera

3.2) How to Hold a Camera With a Grip

If your camera is equipped with a grip, you can take advantage of a very good technique that is known as the “Joe McNally Grip”. This technique was revealed by one of my most favorite portrait photographers Joe McNally many years ago, where he demonstrated the technique of hand-belongings the camera with a grip on his shoulder. This technique works really well, because your shoulders are typically more stable than your hands, so if yous rest your camera on ane of your shoulders, you can achieve actually show shutter speeds without introducing camera milk shake. Here is what you need to exercise:

  1. You need a camera with a grip: this one is a must, because a regular camera is likewise short for you to be able to residual information technology on your shoulder while yous are trying to wait through the viewfinder. The grip solves this trouble.
  2. Balance the left corner of the grip on your left shoulder: put the corner of the grip to a comfortable surface area of your shoulder. I personally prefer putting the corner of the grip on the softer front end side of my left shoulder, but you should experiment and run into where the camera rests comfortably for you.
  3. Look through the viewfinder with your left middle: if you are used to expect through the viewfinder with your right eye this one might accept some time to get used to.
  4. Wrap your left mitt over your right hand: you lot don’t want your left hand merely dangling off your body – you desire to wrap information technology over your right manus, which helps push button the camera further into your shoulder for extra stability.
  5. Push the camera to your head and breathe out: aforementioned tips as the previous technique.

Here is how it should look from the side:

Joe McNally Grip

I personally found this technique to be very useful in situations where I take to use very deadening shutter speeds without having to increment ISO or open up up my discontinuity. If y’all exercise everything right, you should exist able to achieve ridiculously tedious shutter speeds – I accept once managed to take a full second exposure without camera milk shake with the Joe McNally grip!

3.iii) How to Hold Telephoto Lenses

The technique for hand-belongings telephoto lenses can be slightly different, because there is much more weight on the front of the camera. For the about office though, you will be doing like things as when holding a regular setup:

  1. Detach or reverse lens foot: heavy telephoto lenses typically come up with the own tripod feet, considering they are too heavy to exist dangling off the camera mount. I personally never plant it comfortable to hand-agree lenses past holding them by the tripod feet, specially when shooting for extended periods of time (effort doing that on a total solar day wedding!). Not only will it cause the camera to move left and right, but it volition as well bruise upwardly your easily. Instead, either remove the tripod foot completely (if you don’t use information technology), or reverse the lens foot and then that information technology faces up.
  2. Observe the all-time remainder point: with the lens foot reversed, you tin can comfortably discover the surface area where the lens and camera perfectly balance on your mitt.
  3. Place your feet perpendicular to your subject area: same as higher up, but becomes even more of import with longer telephoto lenses, since the setup is heavier.
  4. Button your elbows into your sides: over again, you want your hands tucked in tight to your body to avoid camera shake.
  5. Push the camera to your head and breathe out: same tips every bit the previous technique.

I have been using this technique for many years when shooting with 70-200mm and longer telephoto lenses and it has worked actually well for me. Here is yours truly demonstrating the technique in the video:

How to Hand-Hold Telephoto Lenses

3.iv) Stabilization past Leaning

Some other great manner to significantly reduce camera milk shake when hand-holding a lens is to find a stable object that you lot can lean against, such every bit a tree, a wall or a car. This completely eliminates the potential to rock dorsum and forth when taking a pic, thus allowing one to shoot at very low shutter speeds. Not much to add together to this technique – brand sure that you lot withal take your hands tucked in, with the camera pushing confronting your head for extra stability. Stabilizing your animate will also help in getting a sharper image, so requite information technology a attempt!

Leaning against a Tree

In the above image, I am leaning against a tree while photographing John with an 85mm lens at around i/50th of a second, which worked out groovy to go a very precipitous image.

iii.v) How to Mitt-Concur Camera While Sitting

One technique that we did not cover in the video is how to hand-hold a camera while sitting on the ground. While many of the states rarely employ this technique, it can be very useful in practice when photographing subjects from a lower angle, such as when photographing children. Once more, if yous have weapon experience, you already know the best postures for proper hand-holding – either pushing your elbows confronting your knees while sitting while property the camera in the center, or using the kneeling position, with the left elbow resting on your left knee, while your right knee is on the ground. Both techniques work really well, although many would probably prefer the kneeling position more to the sitting position to keep clothes clean.

4) Epitome Stabilization Considerations

Keep in listen that when shooting with cameras and lenses that accept congenital-in image stabilization, the reciprocal rule and the techniques discussed above might apply slightly differently. First of all, image stabilization tin do a tremendous chore in reducing photographic camera shake by compensating for unlike unwanted movements and motions, sometimes by up to iii-4 stops, which is a lot! So if yous find yourself struggling to take sharp images at low shutter speeds and you accept an image stabilization feature, make sure to turn it on. By default, you should ever have image stabilization turned on when shooting hand-held, unless your shutter speeds are so fast that you don’t need it (in some cases when using shutter speeds faster than the focal length of the lens, epitome stabilization might actually work against you). Also, when shooting mitt-held with telephoto lenses that take image stabilization, you should make certain to stabilize the setup get-go by half-pressing the shutter and letting image stabilization kick in for a second or ii earlier taking a moving-picture show, as described in this article.

5) Dealing with Camera Milkshake on a Tripod

Although camera shake is commonly experienced when shooting paw-held, information technology tin can also happen when shooting from a tripod, where such factors as air current, tripod stability and shutter release by hand can cause unwanted movements. We have already written a detailed guide on how to reduce camera shake on a tripod, so delight give that article a read – there is plenty of data there!

Since we as photographers always strive to capture sharp photographs with plenty of detail, photographic camera milkshake tin can be very frustrating to deal with, so I hope you found the in a higher place article useful. If y’all take any other tips to avoid camera shake when manus-holding lenses, delight let united states of america know in the comments section below!