Tag Archives: Arms

Handshake blur – do your shots suffer?

Handshake Blur Problems?

• Handshake Blur Problems? •
It is so easy to lose sharpness in your shot because your hands make tiny movements. There are simple ways to fix it. Here’s how…

Handshake blur – a cause of blurred shots.

It is not the only cause of blur, but it is more common than most learners think. Handshake blur is a devil in the camera. Or is it?

In auto modes, most of the time, the camera will cope and help keep your shots sharp. When you get more advanced and start to use manual modes then the problems arise. Most people are perplexed – their shots appear to be getting more blurred as they get more advanced. What is causing this handshake blur?

Auto modes limit your photography

Auto modes are set up to average out the conditions you encounter to give you a “reasonable” result every time. The auto mode is set up to compensate for your handshake blur. It will tend toward higher-than-necessary shutter speed for example. That will help you to freeze the shot, cutting the handshake blur. When you encounter more challenging shots the camera cannot produce the results that manual modes produce.

As you advance you want to start doing things that give you more creative control. This is when manual modes help you. However, working the camera appears to become more technical. In fact it is just responding to more sensitive settings – the ones you choose. What you may not realise is that your camera holding, stance and breathing have an impact. You need to be more sensitive to those when you hold the camera. Take everything into account – personal body movement and breathing.

Toward a handshake blur cure…

Handshake blur is quite a technical problem. The camera manufacturers have been working to improve the response to handshake blur for years. Image stabilising mechanisms are built to help reduce handshake blur problems. Good ones can reduce it a right down. And, you need to work on it too. So how do you stop the problem?

There are three basic responses to handshake blur…

  • Increase shutter speed freeze the picture in time. If the shutter is open for a shorter time your hand has less opportunity to move. Then, blur is reduced.
  • Improve the way you hold your camera. The basic hand position is one hand under the lens and one hand holding the body ready to push the shutter button.
  • Improve your stance and breathing. Your body is acting as a tripod. If you are wobbly, so will your shot be! A practiced stance, will help your stability.

You can read my guide to a good stance and breathing techniques in “Simple tips for a good stance”.

There is another response that’s hardly ever mentioned… but it’s extraordinarily important. Most advanced photographers never mention this. They don’t think it is a problem. Working mostly with beginners I know it can be a huge issue. The problem is…
Muscle tone/strength
…even fit people suffer from weakness with a camera at first. I find that disabled people and older people are more sensitive too. Handshake blur can have a big impact on anyone. It is not something to worry about though.

Cameras are quite heavy – especially DSLRs. They are also unbalanced – long lenses make them more-so. People who are not regular camera holders do not develop the fine muscular control and strength needed to hold a camera and use it.

Sure, one or two shots are OK. If you are on a longish shoot, even tough men find they are unaccustomed to the position and control of a DSLR. Your shots slowly lose sharpness as you get tired. Through a whole day handshake blur can be a real issue.

If you are fit, and if you hold a camera a lot you will find your muscle tone and control improves. So will your control over handshake blur. You don’t have to do weights or go to the gym, although that will help. All you have to do is to carry your camera around and use it regularly. Not too much of a problem! The practice will put strength in your arms, shoulders, fingers and hands. Before long you will be steadier with a camera, reduce that handshake blur and improve the sharpness – a lot.

If you are disabled, have problems holding the camera, or suffer from weakness a chest harness can help. Check out DIY Camera Chest Harness for Weak Hands & Arms

Handshake blur… a video

In this video Mike Browne shows us the things I have mentioned above (except the muscle tone part) and how to put them into practical use.

Uploaded by Mike Browne  External link - opens new tab/page

Comments, additions, amendments or ideas on this article? Contact Us
or why not leave a comment at the bottom of the page…

find out more...Photokonnexion tips by email
If you enjoyed this article please sign up for our
Tips by email service.
                                                 Find out more

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Engaging portraits – it’s all in the hands

• It's all in the hands •

• It’s all in the hands •
The hands are very important for directing the eye around a portrait
Click image to view large
• Portrait 4 • Kayte Allen on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

Make your portraits draw the eye…

Here is a quick tip with lots of examples. To make your portraits flow and to help direct the eye to the right places use the hands to help direct the viewers eye.

Up and down loses the eye

The typical beginners full length portrait shows the subject standing upright, arms limp and lifeless at their sides and a sort of half grimace on their faces. Coupled with a portrait-aspect crop this disaster is a straight-through for the eye.

Despite what charms lie below the face, we look there first. We seem to be programmed to do it. Then we follow the rest of the body down with our eyes. IF everything points downward our eyes continue to the feet and then we lose the eye out of the bottom of the frame.

The hands can use the power of lines to redirect the eye

The eye is trained to follow lines and edges – these are places where contrasts are the most obvious and there the eye can see the differences in light and pick out detail. This is the power of lines in Composition – they literally create tracks that the eye follows.

The power of the lines in upright, long portraits is to direct the eye downward and out of the picture. That will always happen unless some form of stopper can be used to direct the eye to where the main interest lies. No better way to do that than with arms and hands. They can be used to stop the eye progressing downward by placing them across the body or they can be used to direct the eye back to the face by pointing upward. They can even be used to direct the eye around to follow the curves of the face and head as in the portrait above.

Some long shots

In the next few pictures you can see how the eye is directed out of the picture by the vertical lines, the portrait crop and the stance of the subject…

• The Photographer •

• The Photographer •

Mum - the loving supporter

Mum – the loving supporter

• Portrait by Virotutis on Flickr •

• Portrait by Virotutis on Flickr •
While this is an interesting picture and has a fun aspect to it, the whole image works to force the eye downward. It is a great picture, but the direction to the eye is almost undeniable.
Click image to view large
• Portrait by Virotutis on Flickr •External link - opens new tab/page

The hands can change everything…

Consider now the way the subtle lines and positions of the hands and the arms redirect the eye back to the face in these shots. These portraits have so much more to offer the eye because the hands bring us back – prevent us from going out of the image.

• Portrait with the hat •

• Portrait with the hat •
The hat acts to stop the eye getting lost upwards. The arm and hand
act to keep the eye returning from the lower end of the shot. The enigmatic smile
provides wonderful interest. A thoroughly engaging portrait.
Click image to view large
• Portrait with the hat • by DeusXFlorida on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

• Portrait by GummyPiglet on Flickr •

• Portrait by GummyPiglet on Flickr •
The wonderful light, the great use of the arm and hand and the lovely expression create a circle for the eye. Out down the arm and back to the face. A great shot.
Click image to view large
• Portrait by GummyPiglet on Flickr •External link - opens new tab/page

• Portrait by Benjamin Ballande, on Flickr •

• Portrait by Benjamin Ballande, on Flickr •
The strong framing with the darker top and hood act to allow the eye to stray downward after the face. But the upward arm and the hand around the face creates an endless cycle of interest around this lovely portrait.
Click image to view large
• Portrait by Benjamin Ballande, on Flickr •External link - opens new tab/page

• Portrait by natali Antonovich on Flickr  •

• Portrait by natali Antonovich on Flickr •
The technique works on men too. The eye naturally comes down the shoulder, and is drawn back up the arm to the face again. An interesting character in this one.
Click image to view large
• Portrait by natali Antonovich on Flickr •External link - opens new tab/page

Portrait workshop, I by Vicco Gallo, on Flickr

•Portrait workshop, I by Vicco Gallo, on Flickr •
The sweep of the hair, the collar and hint of jewellery act to take the eye out of the picture. In the nice of time the thumb sweeps up the eye and the fingers divert us back to the face again. Engaging! Click image to view large

Portrait workshop, I by Vicco Gallo, on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

The hands and the arms rule the lines

We have an almost pathological need to go to the face or hands with our eyes. The rest is almost incidental. Used properly you can cycle the viewers eye endlessly in the portrait. It is a great technique and one that really satisfies the eye.

Comments, additions, amendments or ideas on this article? Contact Us

find out more...Photokonnexion tips by email
If you enjoyed this article please sign up for our
Tips by email service.
                                                 Find out more

Can you write? Of course you can!
Write for Photokonnexion...

We would love to have your articles or tips posted on our site.
Find out more…
Write for Photokonnexion.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.