How To Properly Hold Your DSLR While Taking Photos

Photography is more than setting the camera, pointing, and shooting. You need to frame the shot just right, and depending on your lens and the design of your camera, that can be a trickier prospect than you might think. There are several tricks and guidelines you can use to better hold your camera and use it to get the angle you’re looking for.

Here are several recommended basic steps to assume a proper photography stance.

Chris Gampat of the The Photoblogropher notes that stability is key, both for the camera and you. To keep the camera stable, hold your elbows close to your body and keep the camera itself close. If you don’t have a tripod or monopod, use the environment itself to keep the camera stable. Rest your arm or the camera on ledges, boxes, fences, or any other surface where you can keep the lens steady. Gampat notes that when photographing people in crowded pits, like at concerts or other events, he has placed his lens and camera on other peoples’ heads to get the best shot. Obviously this isn’t a technique to use with strangers, but it can be helpful if you have friends with you when you’re out shooting.

When using a powerful telephoto lens, you must take even greater care to reduce camera shake. The longer the lens’ focal length, the more any sort of camera movement will appear in a shot. If you don’t have a monopod, tripod, or friend’s skull to keep the camera balanced, you can still reduce shake with careful breath control. Breathe in and hold your breath before you release the shutter. By holding your breath at the top of your breathing cycle, you prevent the chest movement caused by breathing.

As a rule of thumb, your shutter speed’s denominator should be equal to or greater than your lens focal length multiplied by your camera’s crop factor. For example, a Canon Rebel T2i (with a crop factor of 1.6) with a 50mm lens shouldn’t shoot slower than 1/80th of a second without a tripod. The same camera with a 300mm telephoto lens shouldn’t be shot with a shutter speed slower than 1/500th of a second (the next closest speed to 480). If you shoot slower than the speed determined by that formula, the camera will pick up even minute motions, and it will be very difficult to take a shot without any blur.

Once you learn how to keep your camera stable, you can start playing with unique angles. When photographing pets, you need to get down to their level and shoot them from the same height as their heads. When photographing statues, buildings, or other large objects, you can produce a sense of epic size by shooting from very low, by sitting down, lying down, or getting on your knees to shoot up. When shooting crowds, you can get a very good view of them the higher you can get. In all of these cases, an SLR with a flip-out, pivoting live-view LCD, like the Canon EOS 60D, can be extremely useful. While you might get the best sense of the shot from the viewfinder, a tilting LCD can help you take the shots that seem just out of your reach, like over crowds or facing up from the ground.

Image credits: Flickr user borisvanhoytema , Ctwirler12 , billaday

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