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Basic Shooting Techniques

Basic Shooting Techniques Camera Support

Simple Shooting Techniques for Beginner Photographers

Holding the Camera - You may need support!

The way in which you hold the camera whilst shooting will actually affect the shot unless you do it right. Especially in low light conditions where you have no tripod. Also, you want it to feel comfortable with all the buttons in the right place and within easy reach.

Stability is the key and you need to be able to keep as still as possible in any environment.

In town or near any static object

Wherever you are, there is normally something sturdy and static that you can lean against for stability. Look for a wall, tree, fence, lamp-post, rock etc and lean against it. This will stop you swaying in any direction and will help with both critical focus and camera shake.

It is possible to lose focus on a subject by simply swaying backwards or forwards a few inches, especially if you are using a very wide aperture which gives very little depth of field.

Using slow shutter speeds, any movement in any direction can cause blur from camera shake. In these situations, you need to get yourself steady, compose the shot, breathe in and take the shot as you slowly breathe out. Remember also to gently “squeeze” the shutter button, don’t stab at it.

In the middle of nowhere​, nothing to lean on

Basic Shooting Techniques and Holding the Camera

If you find yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is use the ground (there is always ground). Either squat, sit or lay on the floor for stability…use yourself as a tripod! I often sit or squat for a shot and sometimes lay down, the perspective is often more interesting too.

Basic Shooting Techniques Golf Shot

​Carry a beanbag or use your coat

If you cannot carry or do not have a tripod, it is sometimes handy to use a beanbag or large item of clothing to steady a shot. Simply put the camera on the beanbag or clothing and steady it as best you can…very useful!

Lens stabilisation

The lens that I am using in this video above is the Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8 IS. The IS bit means it has image stabilisation. What this does is engage some motors inside the lens that slightly stabilises the image as you move. It won't produce miracles but it will allow for an additional 2-3 stops of light slower. I.e. you can use slower shutter speeds whilst shooting hand-held.

Internal Image Stabilisation

Similarly, many DSLR and mirrorless cameras since 2018 have internal image stabilisation. This is done by allowing the sensor of the camera to move on all axis' in the same way the lens does. As you move, the sensor will compensate...again, just for 2-3 stops of light.

Note: Because the sensor is moving, the image falling on it needs to be cropped to account for the movement. This means that internal image stabilisation works well but you may lose some image quality depending on the camera and sensor used.


For example, the Go Pro Hero 7 has internal IS but it doesn't work best at 4K. This is because all of the sensor is used for filming meaning 10% of the image is lost due to cropping after stabilisation.

Important Note: ​​When using your camera on a tripod, try not to use IS on your lens, especially when filming. The lens can make a noise as it stabilises the shot and this noise is audible in your video if using the internal microphone.


Also, when using a tripod, if you have the lens IS turned on, it can actually be counter-productive. Even though the camera is solid and stable, the movement of the motors in the lens can work against this and cause slight movements with long exposures.

​Homework

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​Basic Shooting Techniques

To "train yourself" to have a steady hand with photography, try this.

  • ​Set your camera to shutter priority and set an appropriately slow shutter speed (15th/sec?)
  • ​Using different lenses and no tripod, use these techniques to try and get perfectly sharp images
  • ​For example, use a telephoto lens at 15th sec and test to see which method gives the sharpest results
  • ​Remember, when shooting with a low shutter speed, squeeze the shutter button gently and don't stab at it
  • ​Go out at night without a speedlight and try some low light photography using these techniques

​​​​​​If you even get into wedding photography, these skills will come in handy time and time again!

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