Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stop The Shakes

Text And Photography By Mark Edward Harris Published in Shooting
Freddy Nock on his record-breaking tightrope walk to celebrate the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Jungfrau Railway. Wanting to freeze him in midstride, I used a shutter speed of 1?640 sec. at ƒ/7.1 on my 180mm lens on a Nikon D3x body with the ISO set at 100.
Freddy Nock on his record-breaking tightrope walk to celebrate the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Jungfrau Railway. Wanting to freeze him in midstride, I used a shutter speed of 1?640 sec. at ƒ/7.1 on my 180mm lens on a Nikon D3x body with the ISO set at 100.
A train passes in front of the town of Cully on the Lake Geneva shoreline. A bit of movement of the train in the foreground of the shot gives a sense of movement. This shot was taken at 1/500 sec. at ƒ/7.1 ISO 100.

To avoid this movement affecting the image, many cameras allow for the mirror to be locked up out of the way in advance (which also is useful for cleaning the sensor). In this mode, the first depression of the cable release will lock up the mirror; the second will trigger the shutter. A good cable release has a second advantage of allowing the shutter to be locked open in the "B" (bulb) position for exposures longer than the camera's longest timed exposure.

Not all tripods are created equal. A solid tripod is a must, especially in windy conditions. Some tripods have the ability to have a weight hung from the center column to help add stability. A tripod made of carbon fiber will be lighter without giving up quality and is the best type for travel photography. A ballhead attached to the tripod will offer the most flexibility in terms of camera angle. Make sure to turn off image stabilization on a lens that has this option when the camera is mounted on a tripod.

LONGER LENS, MORE SHAKE

While image stabilization on a lens will assist in handholding at slower shutter speeds, the length and weight of a lens has a major influence on camera shake. The basic rule of thumb is to take the reciprocal of your lens' focal length and find the closest shutter speed to that number. For instance, if you're shooting with an 85mm lens, your minimum shutter speed should be 1/85 sec. The closest shutter speeds to that are 1/80 or 1/100 sec.—so choose 1/100 to be safe. If you're using an all-in-one lens like a 24-300mm zoom, you need to take the length of the lens into consideration even when you're shooting with it at its widest angle.

LOW LIGHT WITHOUT A TRIPOD

As the light level goes lower, the ISO settings have to go higher, resulting in more noise (digital grain). If you constantly find yourself shooting in low-light situations and a flash is not practical, consider a camera that has good results at high ISOs. Newer camera models are typically better at higher ISOs, as sensors have improved and noise-reduction technologies have become more sophisticated. Fast lenses—those with large maximum apertures—will help reduce the need to go to high ISOs. I recommend medium and short zooms that have a consistent maximum aperture of ƒ/2.8 or faster, as opposed to those with a variable aperture. These lenses can be expensive however, so a good rule of thumb is to work with the fastest lens you can.

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