Hand holding your camera at low shutter speeds

By Gary:

Anyone can hand hold at low speeds if circumstances allow, but most can easily extend the range at which you can handhold to a second. I wrote this as I can in some situations hand hold my camera down to 3 seconds and get a usable shot. This photo below was in fact shot handheld at 30 secs. I was supporting myself and braced against a tree but it shows what can be done.

Here's some techniques I use:


It's interesting that I use all the same techniques for firing weapons,when taking photos!

*A human heartbeat is so strong it can be detected as vibrations, even when relaxed in a 45 ton vehicle.

*Don't hold with both hands: hold with one flat hand and balance/fire with the other.

*DON'T hold your breath: take 3 quick, deep breaths and shoot midway between letting the last one out slowly.

*Use anything to brace your body from the waist down, (fence, wall, vehicle) but don't brace against things from the waist up, (wall,post) unless the wind is fierce.

*Even in windy weather if you wait long enough there is often a lull, even for a second. Be prepared for it.

*Left foot pointing forward, right foot slightly behind and pointing to the right makes a stable position. Imagine your feet making a letter T in shape.

*Never let your shoulders go further forward than your feet do: you're altering your centre of balance.

*Hunch forward and tuck your elbows onto your stomach when shooting at slow speeds. Don't use this position if you're out of breath!

*When lowering for a shot but not going on one knee, lower by bending your knees, NOT by bending your back. Your feet should always be wider apart than your shoulders.

*Down on your right knee, left foot forward, right knee and toe either side and behind you, so each 'point' creates a tripod shape. Once you're stable you can also rest your left elbow on your left knee. Great position for windy days. Don't be scared of dirty knees: clothes wash

*You can also go down on your bum, right leg bent and against the floor,left leg stretched out slightly with foot on floor. Very stable and lowered position. 

*If you have to lie down, have your left leg straight out, but your right leg bent at the knee and drawn up. Left elbow on the ground for stability. Remember to try and keep your stomach off the ground if possible as it moves significantly with your diaphragm when you breath. Also there is an artery in your belly that can make your entire body 'twitch' as your heart pumps. 

*If you're quite out of breath, your heartbeats are noticeable so try and time your shutter release just before a beat. 

*When really out of breath use walls, posts, fences, vehicles or anything to brace yourself against. You'll find that prone (lying down) positions are worse the more out of breath you are.

*You don't press the shutter release, you squeeze your hand so that the squeezing movement forces your finger to operate the shutter.Practice squeezing with forefinger on shutter release, thumb on the back of the camera and middle finger on the grip, and squeeze those three so that your camera does not move at all.

*Finally,don't grip your camera tightly. You can feel a pulse through many areas of your hand, and arm when it's bent. Support the camera in your left hand in a way that prevents it moving, (base of camera on heel of hand, lens pointing between thumb and forefinger, elbow tucked in if necessary. The right hand is for shooting.

Everyone is different so some of these may work for you some might not. Some you might have to change to get to work for you. It's all a good starting point. :)