Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Technique Tuesday: Camera Shake

Blurry images.  We all got 'em, most of us hate 'em.  Lately I've been trying to use the tripod more and more.  It's a pain to carry around, but it is the best way to keep the camera still.  I've also been getting out to places where it just isn't practical to take the tripod.  I'm not going to go into the myriad of ways to speed up the shutter.  I'll link you to Joe McNally's "Da Grip" so you can see how a pro holds it.  I'm just going to cover a few things I've done or carry to help out in keeping the camera still.

  • Battery Grip.  I went with a third party that was about 1/3 of the cost of the OEM version.  It works great and I'm not afraid to let it get scratched.  When I lay on the ground for a shot, it raises the camera up to eye level and protects the bottom of the expensive camera.  It gives me controls for going portrait so I can hold it naturally and not have to reach around for the shutter release keeping the camera more stable.
  • White towel.  I can ball it up and throw it on a rock, toss it over a branch or deck board and then lay my camera or lens across it. You can also have someone hold it up next to your subject and bounce light off of it.  On a 100+ degree day, which we've had far too many of lately, you can dry your hands and face with it.  If the temperatures rise again, I may have to think about adding another!
  • Swimming pool noodle.  Take a 12" to 18" chunk, cut a slit down one side to the center hole.  You can stick it on a car window, takes the vibration out of a running car.  You can slide it over a tree branch, metal hand rail.  It's light and those things are very inexpensive.
  • String.  Two things you can do with a string.  Use a quick release plate, tie it to the screw loop and step on the other end so the string is taught.  Pulling up as you compose your shot, you have kind of a reverse tripod.  A second place it can come handy is to throw it over something above you and tie it to the camera strap connectors.  
  • Camera strap.  Same as the string, throw the strap over something above you or kneel on the strap pulling it up taught.  
  • Small Beach Ball.  Inflate it a little and it becomes a very light "Sand Bag" to sit your camera on.  
  • Finally, black plastic sheeting.  You can buy large rolls for a few bucks.  I keep the roll in my car.  You can set it on the hood to rest your camera on.  Cut off a strip and unfold to throw on the wet grass to keep you dry.  Nothing makes you shaky like wet cloths!!  And, since it's black it makes a great flag to block any unwanted light.
To get the above picture of the bull frog, I was dangling from a board walk that extends over a wetland area. I moved the camera strap under my arms so I was able to pull it taught to give me more stability.  I had a flash on a Interfit Strobies Boom Arm and yesterdays Monday Modifier.  It was awkward, but I knew I wasn't going to drop my camera in the wetland and I was able to keep the camera pretty stable.

When ordering stuff from Amazon, I look at inexpensive items that I can use like this when I need a couple bucks more to get free shipping!