Hands Off That Camera!
"To take better photographs, embrace the notion of letting go…"
Most of today’s digital cameras are packed with technology, amazing lenses and rapid focusing (some faster than the human eye), so you would think that taking images would be easier than ever, right? Well the fact is, amateur photographers are still taking bad photographs. What makes them “bad”? They’re fuzzy from motion blur. Photos can also be “bad” because of the vantage point from which they are shot. The fastest and easiest way to solve these problems and improve the overall consistency of your images is to lock your camera down and use a tripod.
Stability – to get the clearest images possible a camera has to be still. You may think you are holding it steady, but your heartbeat, the amount of caffeine you consumed earlier in the day or the mere press of the shutter button can cause minute vibrations in your hands and body that will move the camera and cause blur. To get the clearest images possible, your camera must be mounted on a tripod.
The added bonus of using a tripod is that you can use the camera’s built-in timer, or even a remote if your camera has one. Frame your shot, set your timer for 10 seconds, carefully step back and wait. And don’t move until the image is made! Floor vibration can cause blurring, too.
Clarity – you’ve seen dozens and dozens of interior photographs taken in lower light conditions. The images are hazy, dark, and blurry. The subjects are barely recognizable. The reason for this is the lens is open for a longer period of time to let in as much light as possible. If you breathe or move even a fraction of an inch you’ll get blur. A tripod will help ensure clear images.
Point of View – the tripod will also help you to get the proper point of view. To make images that bring the viewer into a room, a camera should be 3 or 4 feet off the floor. That’s it. Eye level is just too high (Especially if you are a taller-than-average-person).
Consistency – using the tripod for every shot means that a series of images of a project will be unified. Viewers can focus on the structures and the elements of the room as they look at each image. They won’t have to reorient themselves or be distracted if the image of the left side of a room is tilted or taken from a higher vantage point than the right side.
What if you don’t have a tripod? Go out and get one! But if you really can’t get a tripod that stands on the floor, there are alternatives:
One option is to prop the camera on some books on a coffee table, a flat bar stool a ladder or a sawhorse. There are also models that attach to your camera and have short bendable legs or a clip that can be mounted on one of these surfaces. At the very least you can brace your camera on a nearby wall or partition.