Sniper Photography

A recent discussion regarding having a lack of image stabilization (IS) in our cameras gave me a nice collection of techniques to use to get that steady shot when lighting isn't optimal.

I have a pretty steady hand when taking photos -- I just have learned how to steady my hand/arms/body pretty well. So while the IS feature not as vital for me, it is useful to have in my camera for my girlfriend, random people who you ask to take a photo for me, and people suffering from Parkinsons. I basically trained myself after several years on how to hold the camera and take the shot to minimize blur.

I hate it when people hold the cameras like ... two hands on the camera, index fingers on the top corners, thumbs on the bottom, and hold it out from their body almost as if they're trying to push it away from them. I mean, hello, how could you possibly get a steady shot like that??

At least for a pocketable point-and-shoot camera, you need to hold it with as much of your hand as you can -- you have to kind of "palm" it, or rest it on your palm -- and the shutter finger can't have any of the camera-holding burden at all. Keeping your hands and elbows close to you, or resting them on a table or against a pole/wall, is essential. I actually relax my hands and arms (though still snug on the camera) to remove that "exerting force" muscle jitter (you know what I mean, I know you do). And sometimes, I even slowly exhale just before shutter time. Occasionally, I'll look away a bit from the LCD when I take a longer picture (ie. over 1/5s) -- so that I'm not worrying and trying to immediately compensate for any camera movement I see.

In really critically dark photos, I put the 2-second timer on, so that the actual pressing of the shutter release doesn't cause vibrations. Yes, it really does make a difference.

Yeah, I'm anal about it. But my pictures turn out clear, and that's good enough justification for me. Huh, I wonder if any photographers take those pills that snipers take to lower their heartbeats and stuff.

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