Camera shake or camera blur is a crucial problem while shooting in slow shutter speeds and it is a major issue with the beginners. It is the feel of visual jerk or vibration seen in a photo. A point and shoot instinct without understanding the effect of slow shutter speeds results in camera blur. The image looks unclear, without sharpness and the out line of the subject is not well-defined when there is a camera shake.
This is a big challenge if you are a nature/wild life/sports/macro photographer using long focal length lenses. Lenses with built-in tripod collars (70-200mm, 100-400mm) are supposed to be used on a tripod especially you are shooting in the available light.
The following tips will help us get rid of unwanted camera shake resulting in blurry pictures.
- Use faster shutter speeds possible in a given situation.
- Try increasing the ISO sensitivity or larger apertures instead of reducing the shutter speeds in low light conditions when you are not using a tripod.
- Choose a shutter speed higher than the reciprocal of focal length of the lens while shooting the camera hand-held. For example, use 1/60 while shooting at 50mm and 1/125 while shooting at 105mm. This does not matter when your camera is on a solid tripod.
- Use fast lenses (lenses with wider maximum apertures viz.f/2.8,f/1.4,f/1.2 etc.). Fast lenses will give you scopes to use fast shutter speeds.
- Activate IS or VR image stabilization technology of your camera/lens for shooting below the reciprocal principle as mentioned in point 3. This may let you shoot at least two stops lower than the reciprocal principle.
- Use sturdy tripods to hold on the weight of your camera plus lens and other accessories perfectly and confirm the camera is not shaking during the exposure.
- If you do not have a sturdy tripod, you can try holding the camera firmly by leaning on to a stable support or you can even use a sand bag and set your camera on it.
- For very slow shutter speeds and long exposures do not press the shutter release directly with your fingers; instead use the remote shutter release or self timer release.
- When shooting in live view mode (both still images and video) hand-held camera operations, use the camera strap on your neck and stretch in front tight to hold the camera steady.
- Check your image at 100% magnification level to identify the camera shake. The LCD on the back of your camera cannot give you a clue about camera blur in its normal display.
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A photograph looks different when it is shot from an unusual point of view. An unusual point of view is a view that many photographers would not have tried. May be it is something very contemporary or unconventional. A conventional photograph is one that is normally shot from a comfortable zone. When we try to jump out of a common path the photo automatically becomes different. The unusual point of view creates an extra attention to the photo.
The following tips may help you to shoot something unusual.
- Come out of the tourist instinct and avoid seeing things from a gallery point of view or a tourist guide’s point of view.
- Go around the subject if possible or visualize the other sides of the subject.
- Step out of the common path…and refrain from shooting along with most other persons with a camera.
- Avoid eyelevel point of view as far as possible. Look at the subject little from a low level or climb up little elevations.
- Include some interesting foreground… a suitable or meaningful foreground will make the point of view truly unusual.
- Shoot through arches, doorways, holes, fences, jolly etc. to make it interesting.
- Look for interesting reflections in the foreground or background.
- Shoot people from others point of view – an over the shoulder shot will be exciting and unusual.
- Overlap the subject meaningfully on to a suitable background to make the subject unusual.
- Use extra wide-angle lenses for unusual perspective distortions and visual effects.
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HDR (High Dynamic Range) images are photos with better details in the extreme brightness areas. In other words, the details of highlights and shadows are fairly good despite of extreme variation in its brightness. Most of our cameras can only give an average details in the extreme bright areas. Unlike our eyes, the sensors of digital cameras are not capable of seeing and recording the extreme brightness in a scene.
In a practical scenario, DSLRs with larger image sensors (full frame DSLRs and medium format DSLRS) perform better than the cropped APS sensor cameras. Larger size pixels in these cameras are able to do retain the details of highlights and shadows.
On the other hand, we can perhaps shoot more than one exposure, say three shots or five shots or seven shots deviating little more and little less from the camera’s exposure. For example, if the camera’s exposure at ‘0’ is 1/125 f/11, we can also shoot an under exposed image at 1/250 f/11and an over exposed image at 1/60 f/11. In this sequence of three exposures, the first 1/125 f/11 will give the details of the mid tones, the second 1/250 f/11 will give a better high light details and the third 1/60 f/11 will give a better shadow details. Now all the three shots may be sandwiched together for an over all details in all the three tones in an image editing software. Most of the advanced DSLRs can also do this automatically as an in camera post production process.
A HDR shooting and processing is recommended for high contrast lighting scenes like landscapes, Sunsets and Sunrises, interior and exterior shots, shooting from inside to outside shots, night scenes and more.
For a professional HDR shot the following aspects may be considered,
- Choose to shoot non moving subjects (a compositing shot of the movement will show it as a ghost effect)
- Use a stable tripod for perfect composition and alignment of consecutive shots (three, five or seven.
- Use manual focus or auto focus lock to maintain the point of focus as the same in all the shots in the sequence.
- Work in aperture priority exposure mode and stay on the say aperture for all the shots. (This will maintain the depth of the field same in all the shots by changing the shutter speed only)
- Use manual selection of ISO (avoid Auto ISO because, the change in ISO in otherwise will result in change in noise level)
- Decide about the first exposure perfectly – may be some times you need to compensate the exposure. The subsequent exposure in the sequence will change from the first exposure.
- Decide the variation of exposure steps (1/3 or 1/2 or 1stops) based on the contrast of the scene.
- Decide the number of shots in a HDR based on the contrast of the scene – a seven shot variation will give a smooth transition compared to three shot variations.
- Use continuous frame shooting in the drive mode option.
- Image correction and editing may be done only on the final HDR image.
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Many times when we go out for travel photography and try shooting heritages, temples, landmarks, we may not get a shot as required/visualized. This is mostly because the light is not perfect or we reach the place at the wrong time of the day. But sometimes to our surprise the light is not only fantastic but also changes fast to get a lot of variation in the shots.
One such magic happened to me recently on my trip with my students of Ambitions4 Photography Academy to the UNESCO world heritage site, famous tourist spot – Shore temple, Mamallapuram about 50km from Chennai (a most popular place for all kinds of photographers). It was on a sunny day after gentle rains in the previous day; the sky was clearly blue contrasting with buddle of beautiful bright clouds. The crispy bright and fresh Sunlight on the ancient shore temple (a marvel of temple architecture built by Narashimavarman of the great Pallava Dynasty in 8th century AD) made it look terrific.
Most other earlier times I visited this place was truly disappointing. I just come with few record shots only. But this time, I was excited like a child… took my DSLR with a circular polarizer on my lens and shot about 50 images in less than half an hour from different angles and compositions. I got my shots for the day even before 7.30 in the morning…!
May be this is what people say “You have to be on the right place at the right time to get most of your shots right in photography”!
It was an exiting conceptual photo shoot. I was demonstrating our BTEC learners few ideas to show the slap shot / stand up entertainers of ‘EVAM’ funny in the photos. The whole day entertaining, I tried using few unusual lenses normally used for location shoot, for this session to shoot people.
My student, Sameer Singh who is also a stage performer, developed the concept of the shoot. I decided to introduce a lot of intentional distortions to show the expressions funny. As a break through idea, I decided to use 16mm and 20mm lenses for this concept. Though some of the images are really scary, it established the concept of promoting entertaining comedians. The extended depth of field and lens distortions are the highlights of the concept.
The performing artists, Arvind, Bargav and Alex delivered a lot of actions to establish visual impact through funny body and face expressions. The lighting tried was also very unusual (some times hard bottom lights) to match the theme and purpose. I tried including a ‘microphone’ in most of the shots to justify that the people involved in the pictures are connected to stage performances.
The Diploma in Photography learners of Ambitions 4 Photography Academy understood that it is not always necessary to use soft lights, long tele-zoom lenses and maintain shallow depth of field to shoot portraits. It was a real-time learning for the budding professional photographers.
Receiving a momento from the members of the Thirupur District Video &Photographers Association
It was an enchanting experience to share some of my views about ‘Candid wedding photography, (an artificially stimulated business trend in current wedding photography market) with professional wedding photographers of Tirupur District Video and Photographers Association. I had shown more than 250 artistic wedding images to explain about candid shots.
All about contemporary wedding photography
The event had lots of highlights as,
- How to see and visualize a candid shot?
- How to make the candid shots meaning full & story telling?
- How to use the professional studio flashes in the wedding events?
- How to use the professional portable camera mounted flashes?
- How to use the available lights and video lights as sources?
- How to mix the above lights in a wedding/event scenario?
- How to use Elinchrom Ranger flashes for outdoor couple portraits?
- How to use monopods in wedding shoots for lowlight photography/top angle/low angle photography?
- How to control depth of field effectively to tell stories through photos?
- How to use fast prime lenses like, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.2 and zoom lenses 16-35mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses for shooting candid shots?
- How to motivate the couple in a pre/post wedding shots?
- More than 90 fully charged photographers participated the event with core interest in my delivery
- The event was so lively and entertaining for me and the participants
Outdoor couple portrait demo
At the end of the Workshop participants understood that,
- Candid photography is not just about shooting close-ups with a long lens
- There is no specific equipment for candid shots, for candid shots can be done with all lenses and cameras
- Candid photography by it self is not a ‘separate branch’ of wedding photography but a ‘style of working’, which is also practiced in all other branches of photography
Indoor couple portraits demo session
a few pictures shot during the demo practical session…
The learning out comes of the workshop are,
- The participated photographers developed better confidence in shooting candid shots in weddings
- They came out of the myth that only certain camera models and lenses can give candid pictures
- They are convinced that there is no need for separate candid photographers in a wedding, because all the wedding shots need to be approached in the candid style.
- They also realized that they won’t be able to make a complete wedding photo book just with candid and couple shots alone.
Awarding Certificates to the participants
Mr. KL Raja Ponsing – photography mentor, founder and director of Ambitions 4 Photography Academy with the members of the Thirupur District Video &Photographers Association during the two days Candid Wedding Photography workshop @ Thirupur on 1st July 2015