Eliminating camera shake
Great images and videos are often ruined by something preventable: camera shake.
Camera shake is the most preventable problem in photographs. It occurs when the camera is unstable, the film ISO or ISO setting (for digital cameras) is too low for the amount of light or the f-stop is set too high on cameras with adjustable apertures.
Most camera shake can be prevented by slowly squeezing the shutter release button instead of pushing or jerking it. When the shutter release is depressed rapidly, the camera rotates clockwise, down and either forward or backward, depending on how it is held.
To see whether a photo has camera shake, note its brightest points of light, called spectral highlights. These will typically be reflections of sunlight or flash on metal or glass. If these points appear as a small curve instead of a pinpoint, the problem is from depressing the shutter release button too hard or quickly. By slowly squeezing the button, the camera will be more stable when the film or CCD is exposed to light.
Stability is the key to eliminating camera shake. The best way to create a stable platform for the camera or video recorder is by using a tripod. When used properly, a tripod can eliminate most movement. (A tall building swaying in the breeze is another story.)
Other ways to stabilize a platform include monopods, sandbags, tabletops, walls and even a cord or chain. The goal is to eliminate as many directions of movement as possible.
Monopods eliminate most up, dwn and rotational motion but allow other perspective adjustments, particularly in a mobile environment.
A table or any other platform will eliminate these same movements but restrict image framing.
Bracing a camera against a wall or tree will eliminate several directions of movement but also restrict the photographer's options and occasionally her/his ability to frame the image at all.
An inexpensive, lightweight way to stabilize a camera is to attach a cord or chain to a camera or video recorder. The photographer then steps on the cord and lifts the camera to limit vertical motion.
To accomplish this, measure a chain, nylon webbing or a strong piece of cord to the height of the photographer. Cut the material. Next, screw a bolt that is ¼ inch in diameter by 20 threads per inch ( ¼-20) through a chain or a loop in the cord. The length of the screw will depend on the depth of the tripod mounting hole and the thickness of the cord.
Thread the screw into the tripod mounting hole (on the bottom of most cameras and recorders). Then, step on the dangling portion of the cord, lift against the cord, and the image platform is more stable.
Sometimes camera shake occurs even if a camera is on a semi-stable platform. Using a remote cord (often called a cable release), a wireless remote or even a self-timer will eliminate this problem.
With automatic advance cameras, it’s often best to take three-frame bursts of photographs. The first and final frames may have motion from depressing the shutter release button. But the center frame should be sharp.
Additionally, the photographer must control breathing. Before taking a photo, frame the subject in the camera viewfinder. Then take a large breath. Quickly blow the air out and squeeze the shutter release button. After each breath, PJs have three seconds to depress the shutter release before their bodies begin shaking for a new breath of air.
If waiting for a particular moment, a photographer can keep breathing like this until ready to make the shot