Welcome to the Learning Corner ! This is my first post in this photography learning.

Introduction

When people telling me that they do not know anything about photography, and want to learn it from the most basic thing, this is the first thing that I always tell them before anything else, regardless their cameras/lenses — Hold Your Camera Properly. This principle can be applied universally to every form of camera : handphone camera, small & compact camera, big DSLR camera, anything. Hence, it is a fundamental lesson in every form of photography..

I remember said this as the first lesson to someone when she got her first DSLR camera, then she was surprised and said to me : “ohhh, you’re kidding me..” and I said, “No, I’m not..” with a big grin on my face, he3..πŸ˜€

Sounds like a silly idea, who need a simple lesson about how to hold a camera ? just grab it, and press the button, that’s all, right ?! Right, but as simple as it may seems, the missing link is : grab it properly, and press the button properly.. and what I mean by properly is, as steady(still/stable) as possible..

The way you hold your camera and press the button will affect your image quality forever, especially your image sharpness.. so if from now on you really want to learn how to take / produce a sharper photo (and be a better / more skillful photographer also), using any camera, you have to be aware about this fundamental thing.. it is so important that I call it as Lesson Zero..Β πŸ˜‰

BASIC EXPLANATION

1) Every camera need time to record the light (called as : shutter speed) , this can be as fast as blink of an eye in bright condition (1/500 second, for example) to as slow as your breath in dark/dim condition (1/2 second (o.5″), for example).

2) In that duration of time, if there’s any movement (mostly from hand), it will introduce blur. The result is a less sharp photo than it potentially can be.

And getting stable/motionless hand-held shot is near impossible, due to human biology system (heartbeat, breath, internal vibration, etc).. and if you doubt, let’s do a simple experiment to prove this, seeing is believing, they say..πŸ˜‰

Experiment –> grab a laser pointer and point it to a wall.. you’ll see that the laser spot is not stable, but slightly vibrating.. or grab a pencil/ballpoint, point it above a paper but do not let the tip of your hand/pencil/ballpoint touch the paper, just slightly floating above the paper without touching it, and stopΒ  !! tell your hand to stop.. try it again.. stoppp.. !! (kinda like a psychic concentration training !?) Observe your hand, try as you may, you’ll see that you’ll not be able to make it completely stop (at least while you’re alive )

Effect from this small hand movement is not obvious in bright condition (fast shutter speed) and wide angle shooting (zoom out shooting), but become obvious in dim condition (slow shutter speed) and narrow angle shooting (zoom in/telephoto shooting).. However, in each cases, it is better to recognize this small movement, and minimize it affecting our image quality (sharpness).. usually there are general cases related to this small movement blur..

a) You took a photo, it seemed fine/nice/good on your camera display (LCD review screen), but when you transferred the photo into your big computer screen (or upload it to a website in a size bigger than your camera LCD screen), you were disappointed to see your photo now looks slightly blurry / less sharp than you thought it would be (because it was good/great on LCD screen)..Β  and you were wondering why is that..???

b) Your friend borrowed your camera to take photo(s), and after he/she returned the camera to you, and you checked the photo(s), you were confused/surprised to see that the photo(s) your friend took are sharper than you normally can take/produce.. and you were wondering why is that.. ???

Well.. for both cases above, the problem is the man behind the gun..πŸ˜€
the difference can be between seems good to really good photo, seems sharp to really sharp photo..

Solution

Now we’re moving to solution part of this topic. The premise is, it is impossible to stop our hand completely. Right, so hand-held shoot is always less than ideal, you will need stable platform (such as tripod or table) do to that ideal shooting. So, the idea is to minimize the vibration / movement, as stable as one can.. There are many ways to do this, but the essential lesson is to be aware, to pay attention every time you take a camera and press the button..

There’s no absolute single solution to this hand-held shooting problem, what work for me maybe do not work for you, vice-verse.. so you have to find your own personal and most comfortable shooting style for yourself.. find the best for yourself, but do pay attentions to these things..

*. Be aware of your body gesture and hand position — is it more stable for you to use one hand, or two hands is better ? is it more stable if your elbow are floating, or your elbow are touching your body (chest) ? usually body contact is more stable way to do this.. is it more stable for you to hold the camera firmly and strongly ? or just hold it gently ? you can try it..

*. Be aware of your breath rhythm and your body vibration — is it more stable for you to hold your breath while pressing the shutter button ? or maybe during/after you inhale ? or during/after you exhale ? breath slowly and see what is the best way for yourself.. your awareness of your breath indeed will make a difference..

*. Be aware of your finger when pressing the shutter button — don’t use too much force to press the button, instead press it gently, as gentle as possible, because too much force will introduce unnecessary vibration to your camera.. while pressing the button, you also can leave your finger there (still on the shutter button), until the camera finish its job recording the light.. and check which part of your finger give you more stability, the tip of finger ? or slightly behind the tip ? or side of your finger ? slight vibration from your finger can ruin image sharpness..

“Special Homework”

not a homework actually, he3.. but you can spend some time (several minutes or hours perhaps) if you really want to have a better and solid understanding in great detail about this fundamental lesson.. for those who want to know more, I suggest you to do these things below..
1) google –> search image –> type “how to hold a camera”, you will find endless illustrations and explanations how to do this in detail, according to your type of camera (compact or DSLR), read it one by one..
2) take your camera, try it and practice it, and observe the differences in detail (important : inspect the photo using zoom feature in your review screen/computer)..

Closing Words

*) Do not ever skip this fundamental and foremost lesson (lesson zero, lol).. mastering hold-a-camera-properly is the best and cheapest way for you to get a sharper hand-held photo (β‰ˆ to be a better photographer) without buying new camera/lens/using editing program.. it is a way to get the most out of your camera and lenses, thus affecting your image quality forever..

*) The essence of this topic is all about awareness.. be more aware of your body, of your breath, of your mind, of your camera, of the result you will produce.. be authentic as you can be, you don’t need to follow other’s way, find the best way for yourself and master it..

*) Anytime you forget or need to remember about this, you can always come back here.. feel free to put any comment / feedback, I’d love to have an open communication..πŸ˜‰

be aware of how you hold your camera and press the button

Thank you for reading, and my warmest greetings to you..
— Handoko Luo, Jan/2012