New To Photography:How to hold your camera

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This page is a chapter in the book New To Photography Book.
Holding an SLR (Digital or film) is completely different to holding a Point and Shoot (compact camera). Often when using a Point and Shoot you only use one hand. Holding the camera up, looking at the LCD and taking the shot when you are happy with the scene you see in the LCD. A D/SLR is completely different. You have to hold it with both hands. D/SLR’s are bigger, heavier and require two hands to hold and operate. They are quite well designed ergonomically, and you will probably find your hands naturally grab a D/SLR in the right places.

Holding a D/SLR correctly is important, it stabilises the camera and helps reduce blur in photos from camera shake (caused by the human body not being 100% motionless, even when we think it is)

Most digital SLR's are now designed perfectly to fit in the right hand The thumb is positioned so as to be able to easily reach the rear function buttons/wheels at the top right back of the camera, and your index finger should naturally sit near or over the shutter release button at the top front of the camera. Your other fingers should wrap naturally around the right side grip. Do not hold your camera tightly, firm is good.
Cameras have different layouts (especially between brands) but all are normally designed to fit in your hands both ergonomically and practically comfortable.

With the addition of a large grip down the right hand side of most cameras (you may or may not remember that early SLR's in the 80's had no such grip) your index finger is left free to operate more buttons and dials. There is obviously the shutter button and normally a dial next to it for speedy aperture or shutter speed changes. Also on the top of the right side of your camera are lots of other buttons that your thumb and index finger can easily operate when the camera is held correctly.

With the right hand doing all this work, what is your left hand supposed to do?

Well, it plays a fairly important part as in apart from operating the mode dial on the top left of the camera, it is used to "cup" and steady main bulk of the camera. When holding a D/SLR, the base should fit into the palm of your hand, with the bottom of the lens resting on your left thumb and forefinger allowing you to use the zoom lens or use the focusing ring (in manual focus mode).

If you don't hold it this way, and allow your left hand to "float" freely as you focus and zoom, the movement is more likely to move the camera, again causing camera shake, which can result in blurry photos. Many modern DSLR feature ‘anti-shake’ technology, this can provide assistance, but does not mean sloppy camera holding techniques should be used.

When standing to shoot, try resting/tucking your elbows into your body, this will give you extra support and naturally pulls the camera gently into your face to steady it more. When ready to take your shot, gently squeeze the shutter, do not give it a quick jab. squeezing it reduces the movement of your finger/arm and body, again helping to ensure a nice sharp (not blurry) photograph.

Over the years this holding method has been shown to be the most efficient way of holding a D/SLR but with practice you can play a little. You can break these Rules at times, take photographing a pet puppy sleeping on the floor. You may end up holding the camera close to the floor with one hand, lying on the floor behind it, to get your shot. So, use the Rules above, but learn to understand you can break them in certain circumstances, and it is not bad, to do so.

So break these rules and have a play; however these are the best suggestions when holding an SLR. One final thought is that when standing up and shooting, using the above tips, try resting your elbows into your body, this will give you extra support and pull the camera gently into your face to steady it more.

So to summarise holding a D/SLR:

• Hold the camera with both hands, as described above
• Lean against something, a wall or fence, or pull your elbows in
• "Squeeze" the shutter, don't tap/jab at it

Alternatively use the finger roll technique to release the shutter; shown 3 minutes into this clip.

It is also worth noting that you can use a monopod or a tripod for stability. This will be discussed later in the learning plan.

Photographer holding a camera correctly.

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