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Hand-Held Technique

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by brad, Apr 8, 2007.

  1. Greetings,

    I am very new to photography. In preparation for receiving my D80, I've researched equipment, post processing; and to a lesser extent composition, exposure, etc.
    I haven't found much information online about taking the actual shot. I realise that the best shots are always going to be done with the assistance of a tripod, however I'm now interested in what I should do to get good quality hand-held shots.

    How should I use my body to take better shots? Should I breathe a certain way when I am getting set? Should I stand/kneel in a certain posture? How else can I take good hand-held shots? Are there any resources (websites/books/etc) that are "must-reads?".

  2. Baywing


    Feb 22, 2005
    CT USA
    It's been so long since I've read a book on photography.......most info is available online these days.
    As for hand holding, I usually do the following. Hold the lens (if it's a telephoto) in the left hand, supporting it from underneath. Thumb and index finger control zoom and or focus. If it's a smaller lens, I'll rest the base of the camera in my open, face up palm, thumb and index finger again reach out for the zoom/focus. Right hand always grips the camera body, trigger finger on the shutter. Left hand carries the weight, right controls the movement (aim). I'll tuck my left elbow into my gut just below the ribs. A female friend had trouble with this for, well, anatomical differences. Right arm is held close to the body. I usually don't lock my knees (I'm shooting from boats often) and having a little dampening in the knees seems to help. You can lean against sturdy things as long as they aren't moving or vibrating. In the case of boats, I'll lean on the rail with my waist to keep from going overboard, but nothing higher. I usually take a deep breath, let it out and hold. Some have better luck with holding a half-breath.
    Beyond that, practice and trying different things until you find something that is both comfortable to do and works for you.
  3. One more thing to the excellent description done by Baywing: try to roll your finger on the shutter button, to the point you are almost "surprised" when it fires. Don't smash the shutter as this creates camera movement at the worst time. :wink::smile: Most of all, experiment and have fun! :biggrin:
  4. nancyr


    Feb 14, 2006
    La Jolla, CA
    What Baywing said, mostly.

    If you're trying for really low shutter speeds, I've found quite by accident that the second shot in a sequence is often sharper. Comes from squeezing the button very gently and slowly with the shutter set to "C" (continuous). Camera fires two before you know it. Lean on something steady and lower your center of gravity (if you can squat, do it). Wide angles also magnify camera movement less, but of course that depends on what you're shooting.

    I managed this shot of the Etruscan Gate in Perugia, Italy, by squatting (sitting?) against a sturdy lamppost. 4 seconds! It is the best of several attempts and is not critically sharp, but it'll do. For shots like this, of course, a tripod or beanbag would be better.

    Welcome to the Cafe!
  5. Another technique I use for hand holding long lenses in a pinch:
    Turn your body at right angles to the subject. Hold the camera body up on your "shrugged" left shoulder with your right hand, supporting the lens with your left hand.
    I've used this to get a sharp shot with a motorized F2AS and 300 /2.8 plus 2x converter, effectively shooting at 5.6 at a shutterspeed of about 1/60th. Of course a monopod or tripod is a smarter move, but sometimes you've just gotta make do.
  6. Dewey's Pet Peeve Watching "Photographers" Some Who Profess To Be Professional .... left hand on TOP of the lens focusing and/or zooming with left elbow stuck out like a flapping Chicken Wing. Can you say Not Stable? Say it WITH me Boys and Girls, NOT STABLE, and looks dumb too :biggrin: :biggrin:

    OK, now that I have THAT off my chest so to speak, I would suggest you look up some information on Rifle and Pistol Target shooting. The techniques directly transfer, and remember that anything you can do to brace yourself is going to help as well.

    Do a search on the Forum for the Ron Reznick technique. Many folks find this works great for them, I personaly don't, it just isn't comfortable for me, I think my arms are too short. Which brings up my last bit of advice to you. Whatever advice you get, if it is not comfortable, it is going to cause you more instability than it is worth. All the advice you have gotten here is great, I'd forgotten about the one from Nancy, great to be reminded of that one.

    Good luck, try them out, let us know what you think and come up with. Oh, last but by no means least...PRACTICE, do it 100 times, then 1,000 times more until it is all second nature. Then go PRACTICE some more :biggrin:
  7. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  8. Thanks, Paul, I was just too darned lazy to go look myself. Of course Ron having the Gymnastics background he has, and a metabolism that most of us would die for :wink:, finds this VERY easy. But when you are like me, and you have SEEN me, with 8 inch arms, length of course :tongue:, just can't wrap myself up that way. And do you mean "Simian-esque", or is that simply the British spelling????? :biggrin:
  9. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    The Reznick technique as it is called now (i have used it for many many years, he was the first to post it I guess) is one of my favorite techniques.

    Key to this method for me is to watch your heartbeat in the camera and squeeze inbetwen the beats.

  10. Holmes


    Oct 28, 2006
    Wyoming, USA
    An important point, to be sure.
  11. Rays Stuff

    Rays Stuff

    Sep 6, 2006
    I like this method as it's easy to store in gadget bag or back pocket. Just a piece of aluminum tapped to accept a 1/4 20 bolt and threaded into bottom of camera. I twist the camera so that the end of the rod rest against the sternum or the forearm. Works great for me. Got the idea from W. Eugene Smith who had a long handled screwdriver tip cut off and threaded 1/4 20. It obviously does not replace a tripod but will add several stops to your low light shooting with little or no effort.
  12. Thank You

    Thank you very much for everyone's help/advice! I feel I should be able to start on the "right-foot" now.

  13. Brad, you can also try to find and brace against a solid object--tree, lamp post, fire hydrant, parked vehicle.
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