How to Reduce Camera Shake - 6 Techniques

How to Reduce Camera Shake – 6 Techniques

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In this classic DPS post (now updated) photographer Natalie explores 6 ways you can hand hold lenses at low apertures and low shutter speeds and still avoid blurry images caused by camera shake.

6 Simple Techniques to Help Avoid Camera Shake

I’m a mover and a shaker in general, and this is particularly true when I’m on a shoot. I’m twistin’ and turnin’, climbin’ and jumpin’ and to top it all off, I DO NOT have a steady hand, plain and simple.

As often as possible I opt for lenses with VR (Vibration Reduction) or IS (Image Stabilization). You pay a pretty penny for this feature. For me, it’s worth the extra cost, and for the point I’m at in my photography it’s a reasonable expense. But that wasn’t always the case, and what about uber slow shutter speeds with no tripod. No IS or VR can hold up under pressure like that. . .no matter how magical they may be. . . and magical they are, trust you me.

6 Techniques to Reduce Camera Shake

Here are 6 options for avoiding camera shake and achieving crisp, delicious images no matter the length of the lens, no matter the shutter speed.

Shooting wide open? NO PROBLEM; I’ve got your back!! Enjoy!

1. Elbows In

As often as possible pull your elbows in to your body and exhale completely before depressing the shutter. When you’re working with a wide aperture or low shutter speed (or both), even a breath can introduce shake. Pulling your elbows tight to your body can really help keep you steady. I also press my elbows firmly into my chest for even greater stability.


2. Raise Your Left Shoulder….

I am definitely a right eyed photographer, but this tip that I learned from “The Moment It Clicks” by Joe McNally, requires that I shift for a moment to my left eye. What I’m doing here is raising my left shoulder, and bracing my left elbow into my rib-cage (no arrow for this one). For further stability, you can pull your right elbow in to your chest. As always, exhale completely before depressing the shutter to avoid introducing shake.


3. Create a Tripod With Your Knee

You can create your own tripod by resting your elbow on your knee while in a seated position. Again, bring that other elbow in for greater support.


4. Lay Down

These two images illustrate perhaps the most obvious way to avoid shake without a tripod. Lie flat and let the lens sit directly on the ground. The problem with this is that you’re likely to have quite a downward tilt to the lens and unless you’re aiming to photograph the pavement, you probably won’t end up with the shot you’re hoping for. In the first image you’ll notice that I placed my hand flat against the cement and balanced the lens on top of it to give myself some height. In the second image you’ll see that I created a fist with my hand to give myself even greater height.

How To Avoid Camera Shake-1

5. The Machine Gun Hold

This next technique is sometimes referred to as the machine gun hold. I rarely use this technique as I find it awkward and difficult to maintain for more than a second or two. Just because it doesn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t for you. . . give it a try.


6. Cradle It

In this next image you’ll see that I created a sort of cradle for the lens between my shoulder and my wrist. I also stabilized the hold by balancing my elbow on my knee.


Well there you have it. That’s how I avoid “The Shake” (I’ve named him that because he’s like an evil monster who comes in and ruins my otherwise perfectly delicious images). Please share YOUR tricks and techniques in the comment section below, and as always. . .

Happy Shooting! – Get more daily tips like this one by subscribing to Digital Photography School

Further Reading on Camera Shake

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Natalie Norton is a writer and a lifestyle wedding and portrait photographer who shoots across the globe. She is based off of the North Shore of Oahu and out of Gilbert, Arizona. Enjoy more of her photography and writing at You can also connect with Natalie via Twitter or on Facebook.

Some Older Comments

  • Joan H Craig October 2, 2013 07:27 pm

    Thank you for this article.
    Because of elbow and wrist injuries I am unable to hold a camera in the standard manner, or hold it steady. Tripods and monopods are all very well, but not always convenient. It took months experimenting with various positions before I could produce a photo without a blur. So it's excellent to have these creative illustrations. Those who have problems with the unorthodoxy of the camera and body positions, might care to reflect on the fact that some of us would be unable, otherwise, to take photographs at all.

    I'd like to add a further observation about choice of cameras. For myself, a small size, heavy weight camera that sits well in the cup of my hand - try before you buy. I have agreed with myself that 100mm lens is the uttermost edge of hand holding! So it's the new Pentax K5 for me, with a Canon G12 in my pocket - those lovely little flat pack things are impossible.

    Now I'm off to try the string thing - a tripod in the pocket will surely be magic. Thanks for the idea.

  • TerryS September 29, 2013 08:40 pm

    Definitely get hold of a mini tripod. I hate taking a full tripod with me most times, and find the mini, used correctly answers most options. To minimise camera shake I attach the mini tripod and adjust the angle so that I can rest the legs of the tripod comfortably just below my collarbone. Yes, tuck the elbows in, but press the tripod in to the body as well, and of course release the shutter after exhalation. I have tested this in darker conditions with my 18-200 lens at 200 and still had good sharpness of detail.

    However, nothing is better than a sturdy tripod and a remote shutter release.

  • Tasha September 29, 2013 02:59 pm

    Thankyou for the article. I find camera shake is a pain and carrying a tripod is not always a good option. I carry a small beanbag to hold up the lens and try to look for something to lean on.

    Love the sense of humour in the article too.

    This one was taken by lying on the grass with the camera strap propping up the lens.

  • Karen Doyle September 29, 2013 01:19 pm

    Thank you Natalie, great tips ! I suffer badly from the evil camera shake, more so when using a zoom lens.
    Thanks again. :)

  • dave mitchell September 29, 2013 02:10 am

    I have been carrying a unipod for about twenty years to stabilize all my shots and prevent blur. Very easy to carry with the camera attached. Using the three shot method gives me plenty of confidence of getting a great image. Thanx for the tips.

  • Keith September 28, 2013 01:42 pm

    One's stabiity would also probably be enhanced if by not shooting in heels.

  • Henry K September 27, 2013 09:04 pm

    Great tips. I observed though, that there was no camera strap to deal with, save for item 5 where there is a wrist strap. Not an issue but at times the strap does become an issue when one has to get it out of the way to have that shot.

  • Nipuna September 26, 2013 12:24 am

    Nice! Ive already adopted some of these out of experience, but now i have more thanks to you.
    Here's another tip; when shooting/ recording inside a vehicle while on a bumpy ride, don't support your camera against anything, just let your arms "float" with the motion. Natural IS.

  • Stuart Alcock September 25, 2013 04:33 am

    Some very useful and practical tips, even when you have the advantage of imaged stabilised lenses, they offer further support.
    Many thanks

  • Jore Puusa January 25, 2013 09:17 pm

    Put the camera in manual mode, the lens also.
    Shoot something with lots of details -a piece of a car maybe- put the camera on a tripod- and focus it according to the distance.
    Use a tape measure. If it says 2 meters then put that distance in the lens what ever way in works.
    Use large f stop 2,8 or larger and then fast shutter speed of course.
    Then send that jpg to me jore.puusa (at)
    I´d just like to see the problem.
    Do not take away the exif data.

  • david wilson January 25, 2013 09:01 pm

    Yes Blurred on Tripod as well,photo's are very grainy.Camera has been away for repair and new main board replaced but camera is the same.Wife has the 60D as well with the same problem.Been searching the web for months and it seems it is a problem with this model of Canon 60D. There are a few discussions on various forums regarding the problem.Looks like I am stuck with it.Have tried 3 different lenses so not the lens.

  • Mahmood Sheikh January 25, 2013 04:46 pm

    Dear icelava.

    I think your camera must be a problem if you get burry pictures even with a tripod


  • icelava January 25, 2013 12:45 pm

    @david pictures are blur even when placed on a tripod/table?

  • david wilson January 24, 2013 09:19 pm

    Good tips,will try to day.Have realy bad problems with blurry images on my Canon 60D.Tried every combination of settings but still 80% of images blurred.

  • Barney Delaney - Landscape Photography May 18, 2012 12:49 am

    Thanks for the tips, IS is great on a lens, but i find 'rolling' the shutter release tends to work well, and / or, loose of a few additional frames if I suspect shake.

  • Taz January 19, 2012 03:07 am

    Thank you very much for the tips.
    I find that a lens with image stabilisation helps if you're like me and don't have the sturdiest of hands.:)

  • Jim Wilmer December 23, 2011 11:32 pm

    Your 6 techniques to minimize shaking while photographing are good, as are the comments by the scores of readers. But what happens when a person has essential trremors or Parkinson's disease and likes to take photographs?. For the Parkinson's individual I'd say take your medicine first and give it plenty of time to begin working (30-40 minutes on an empty stomach).The same approach holds true for essential tremors (although there are far fewer drugs available). But unless you are taking wonder drugs, you will still shake. So you are stuck with using tripods and monopods or some immovable object such as big trees and fences. Even when using these objects to prop up and steady your camera, shaking can still be a problem, because you have to focus the lens sometimes (fine focus and manual focusing lens) and push butttons or turn rings. A cable can be helpful on some camera models, as well as a battery-powered, remote triggering device, but live action (i.e., moving) shots are difficult using these triggers. Probably heavier cameras are better to minimize shaking (read: more expensive, near-professional or professional), but not that much better.Ultimately pick the camera that you like and that fits your hands and eyes and use steadying platforms such as tripods.

  • Lopes November 20, 2011 01:31 pm

    came here to see some bum...damn

  • Dean October 21, 2011 04:30 am

    As a Postgraduate student in Art History, pre-digital, I used to take photographs of frescos etc. in
    cathedrals without adequate light and prohibited from using a flash. Lugging around a tripod and even setting one up was not an option. So I carried a length of light weight chain with a 1/4" (tripod mount) bolt that I could
    quickly pull out of my pocket. attach it to the base of my camera, drop the chain, stand on it while raising the camera,elbows close to body creating enough tension that I could get some good shots at very low shutter speeds. Worked for me. Cheers

  • Mandy October 9, 2011 09:02 am

    I like to wrap my right hand around the strap tight and then hold the camera, the camera just seems more secure and steady in my hand...

  • Anshuman Atre September 28, 2011 10:50 am

    You do tend to induce a tiny shake when you *click*. What I do is, I squeeze it (like a lemon), rather than pressing it (like a ball point pen). Helps a lot.

  • Dan Atlas September 25, 2011 01:30 am

    Great for us amateurs...
    I have Sony HX1 and HX100V, Sony NEX-5. Since all have tilt LCD, it is easy to stabilize by holding against the chest and holding the breath. I retrofitted the HX100V to optical zoom of 51X and still get stable pictures.

  • Leif Hurst July 3, 2011 09:36 am

    I'm going to try some of these methods out. I've had very shakey hands all of my life and now that I'm digging into the photography hobby now it's really starting to bother me. I'll report back if any of this works for me!

  • Susieb721 June 20, 2011 03:06 am

    Your writings are exactly what I need. I cannot sit down to a long, drawn out manual and understand what they're talking about. I can't get enough of your teachings! Thank you so much for the simple explanation and pictures to refer to. You are a hoot! In less than 15 minutes of reading, I now "get" aperture, shutter speed and ISO. I've been 'taking pictures' on AUTO for 5 years now, and just recently decided to become an aspiring photographer with the ability to change things up to create awesome images in Manual settings. THANK YOU!

  • Mahmood Sheikh December 24, 2010 09:42 pm

    Thanks Mr. Dykes. I'll definitely give a try to your method too.

  • Brandon Dykes December 21, 2010 05:51 pm

    I am not pointing out a falut just something you mentioned that I find interesting. When I was younger my father and I hunted and I was always told if you pull the trigger in the middle of the breath its better then all the way out. I have honestly always ttried this with photos now that I am older and I was just curious if you have ever tried to get a shot mid breath. I know i am going to try thr end of the breath. Always learning, great post by the way and happy holidays.

  • icelava August 28, 2010 03:08 pm

    When all i need is a sitting low position, i squat down and brace my elbows against my knees from inside. This is the position i was taught when training with assault rifles.

  • camera quick release wrist support brace August 11, 2010 05:01 pm

    Very nice, i have seen people position the monitor closer to the camera on top. you might want to look into this. its alot easier for you to see. or you can place it on the hotshoe on top.
    Very good idea! Congratulation!
    Thanks for camera quick release wrist support brace.
    easy to handle.

  • Ann June 3, 2010 05:00 pm

    Some outstanding ideas, but when your hands get the shakes not much you can do about it, other than a wireless remote if the situation allows. I have to be a strictly "fingers off" photographer. I'm beginning to like my blury photos!

  • jimmy johanes May 11, 2010 05:02 am

    seriously i need a tripod! xD whole damn cheap tripod is just fine!! xD

  • Headphone Reviews April 9, 2010 12:17 am

    The "Elbows In" technique is the one I know and generally use but it's not always convenient., This post gave me 5 additional ways to try to avoid blurry shots. And it gave me a great laugh too (the red marker parts). Thanks, Natalie!

  • Paul Pacurar April 7, 2010 09:38 pm

    Thank You! Good article!

  • Malou February 16, 2010 12:09 pm

    Awesome tips. I am a shaker myself especially If I don't use the flash option on my cam.
    Thank you so much for sharing. The pictures made it more easy to follow and understand.
    :) Really helpful techniques. More power!

  • Blake Brannon February 12, 2010 12:21 am

    Thanks for the tips. I also find that if you can adding a 1 sec delay to the shutter helps reduce shaking from the finger press.

  • Phat Photographer February 8, 2010 08:29 am

    I was happy to get a nice shot of my daughter sleeping with a 1.3 second exposure hand held and posted how on my photography blog. Thanks for the other suggestions.

  • john merritt January 11, 2010 02:22 pm

    Definately take a deep breath, then exhale and shoot!

  • teejay January 8, 2010 01:42 pm

    sometimes its really just a heavy trigger finger that causes the shake

  • Belleville IL Photographer December 22, 2009 02:56 am

    I'll be trying these tips out. I usually shoot wide open and with a fairly quick shutter, so usually this isn't a problem for me, but in low-light scenarios, even small movement becomes a big deal.

  • Mahmood Sheikh December 16, 2009 02:16 am

    I think one thing that I have tried for taking snaps of remote luminating object (that are to be exposed without using Flash) to avoid camera shake is really a promising one. What I do is that I introduce a 2 second delay in the shutter. In this way you get enough time to hold camera properly and if possible also stop breating for a moment and beautiful picture will be ready. Try it yourself and correct me if I am wrong.

  • John B. Casey December 9, 2009 11:09 am

    Thank you for your information on the techniques to reduce camera shake. I hope you don't mind if I give a comment on techniques # 3 and 6. These positions are very similar to rifle shooting positions. The technique
    the army teaches is different in that the elbow is moved passed the knee to the fleshy part of the arm. Avoiding knee bone and elbow bone will give a more stable position. Thanks again

  • izam_amz November 15, 2009 05:24 am

    Nice Info!!!..learn something that usefull to newbie like me..

  • Just Jennifer November 4, 2009 10:38 pm

    I do the elbow thing but it doesn't work :( I still get blurry shots.

  • Stewart November 4, 2009 11:44 am

    omg! thank u! i'm only 13 but these really come in handy! i use a nikon d80 with usually a sigma 72mm lens and the shake on it is unbearable! these will greatly increase the quality of my photos and reduce the shake on it to! thank u!

  • Shariq Siddiqui October 31, 2009 04:07 am

    Excellent techniques and illustrations. If you've ever fired a rifle, these will come naturally to you. If you don't want to use a tripod, a GorillaPod + remote control is often an excellent substitute.

  • Rich October 27, 2009 04:35 am

    Not surprisingly, these are the same (or very similar) techniques Marines are trained to use when firing assault rifles. =)

  • Michael Graham October 25, 2009 03:57 am

    Nice tips...I would also add just leaning on a wall or something solid might help sometimes.

  • Daniel October 16, 2009 05:34 pm

    I like number 4, the sexy ass technique haha!! I'm yet to try that technique as I find it rather disgusting to actually lie down on the streets (I'm into street photography, you don't wanna know what's on the ground). However after getting that idea from you, I thought of a solution, I could bring a canvas sheet along (just nice for this!!)...yeah!

  • oliver October 16, 2009 02:53 pm

    I must say I really got a smile in my face after trying these techniques, specially elbows in and machine gun.
    A solution within yourself, great !
    really useful when taking pictures at raves and dj events using a point and shoot, where you rarely have a place to lean on

  • Neil- Liverpool October 2, 2009 06:20 pm

    Another tip I use when I can is......a piece of string!

    First get your string. Make sure it's long enough to travel from your head to your toes. Make a loop at one end and slide it around the lens if you can, (or if you have a tripod bush handy, attached it to the camera and then wrap the string/cord around that instead), then place the the other end under your foot and pull it taut so that the lens is 'fighting' against the pull. This makes it very easy to keep the camera steady.

    If you can get the measurements right, (and you have enough length of string, you could also make a large circle out of the string. Place it beneath BOTH feet, and then loop it over your camera lens, forming a triangle shape. Again, pull the string up as far as you can...hold your breath (then let half of it go...hold....and fire away)!
    Simple to use....and very little cost.

  • Eileen September 28, 2009 03:45 am

    Great suggestions and the photos are really helpful. Thanks!

  • how to train a puppy September 21, 2009 07:22 pm

    Wow! Great tips for an amateur photographer like me. Thanks.

  • Rajev September 18, 2009 04:35 am

    Than Natalie for the very useful tips. Also for the tips contributed by the comments.

    I discovered the "elbows in, breath out" tip naturally, while practicing with my new camera. Initially it was very frustrating as trying to get a pic without shake seemed imossible. But, perseverance paid off.

    This problem is just with digital cameras. I never ever had this problem with any film camera. The R&D dept of the manufacturers should find out why and make the necessary changes in digital cameras.

    I also got introduced to the word "tooshie". I had never come across this slang before. I like it.

  • Teshom September 15, 2009 02:29 am

    great tip Natalie! very useful.

  • Sami Bailey September 14, 2009 05:34 am

    I noticed that widening my stance is great for me because it helps support my upper body and keep me still. In a way like a tripod.

  • Benikesh September 13, 2009 07:11 pm

    I use a string tripod but not under foot. The string goes from the cameras' tripod thread to the belt loops at my waist.
    Length of the string adjusted to eye level and, of course, the broader the beam the longer the exposure!

  • Pio danilo P. Cuadra September 12, 2009 06:58 pm

    I use tripod and remote timer release and even using a Bigma at low shutter speed yields good pictures on this set-up(still subjects of course).However in the absence of a tripod I use the "kneel down" position with my left elbow placed on my left knee. At 50mm it is fairly easy to get blur-free shots but when the Bigma is extended to 400-500mm focal length, you have to hold the lens near the front element/ hood link portion. This is to balance the weigh of the DSLR/grip & lens combo. Do not hold it by the tripod collar; you will still get blur photos from camera shake due to weight imbalance.

  • Marty-Seattle September 12, 2009 08:03 am

    One of my favorite anti-shake techniques is to turn on the motor drive, shooting 5 shots or so while doing all I can keeping them ALL as still as possible. Then, while reviewing them all up on a big monitor together, one usually "POPs" as being super sharp.

  • Daigo Kamada September 12, 2009 04:58 am

    Hi! Loved the article on camera shake. I've been reading your articles at DPS and they are great. Planning on making my blog soon. Cheers. Learning a lot!!

  • Akhtar Khuroo September 11, 2009 03:53 pm

    How to Reduce Camera Shake - 6 Techniques is really good

  • R.Varadarajan September 11, 2009 03:46 pm

    Great solutions! Very simple but effective ones. Thanks for the tips.

  • Alfred September 11, 2009 09:26 am

    If you have your feet close together then you will have MORE camera shake. I place my feet shoulder width apart with one foot further in front.

  • Manny Ferrer September 11, 2009 09:10 am

    Hi Natalie,
    Great tutorials you have here.
    I enjoy and learn from it.
    Two thumbs-up.

    Manny Ferrer
    Sorsogon City, PHILIPPINES

  • Walther Grube September 11, 2009 06:45 am

    Great tips! I use a "string monopod' , a string attached to a screw that fits into the camera and a lasso to put my foot into. It helps a lot!

  • Roy Burnell September 11, 2009 06:45 am

    Thank you Natalie, I am 70 and had given up doing close-ups without a tripod, but now you have simplified the matter of 'camera shake' for me so I can begin to focus on some better shots again. Great tips!

  • kevin September 11, 2009 03:25 am

    don't cover up that booty

  • nidhi September 11, 2009 02:18 am

    i usually face this SHAKE problem while shooting.. but ur tips will proove get help... thanx a lot

  • Inguan September 11, 2009 02:17 am

    amazing rly nice shere thx for it (;

  • Ray September 11, 2009 02:05 am

    I take a monopod with me when possible-It can double as a walking staff in the mountains or river walks and it handy for that special shot.

  • Carol September 9, 2009 04:57 am

    Great tips. Very helpfull when I don't like carrying tripods. The elbow in is easy for me. Thank you!

  • Dave September 8, 2009 10:34 pm

    That YouTube vid of McNally is brilliant - I use the clamping-it-to-your-shoulder technique all the time, even though I'm a right-eye-dominant shooter. Using that technique while leaning against a wall using both legs to press you against the wall gives you about 3 more stops in shutter speed terms - you can easily go down to shooting at a 1/10th or even an 1/8th of a second.

    For this shot, I clamped it against a pillar opposite St Pat's with both hands just after metering and setting up a timered shot - it was taken at a 1/4 of a second, if I remember rightly.

  • Pat Bloomfield September 8, 2009 06:47 am

    @Brian - You're totally right. I think the machine gun hold is something that Joe McNally (sp?) uses but think it's of limited value. It works for Joe because he's so good.

  • Brian J. Berman September 8, 2009 05:28 am

    I take issue with some points in this article. 1). Elbows is fine, but look at the place of her feet. The body should be aligned as a tripod, with the leading foot pointed outward and toward the subject. 2). Nowhere does the photographer use her left hand properly. The 'non-shutter' hand should support the lens at the bottom and midway out, not all the way back near the camera body. A good shooter should be able to gauge where the zoom ring is and use two fingers to turn it. Unless they are focusing manually, there is no need to worry about that ring, only the zoom. 3). NEVER in 35 years of shooting at the highest levels have I even seen anything called the machine gun hold.

    Perhaps this person is a commercial photographer and not a photojournalist/editorialist. Whatever the case may be, her suggestions are not in keeping with either logic or conventional wisdom.

  • reijo September 6, 2009 11:09 pm

    One trick to reduce camera shake is to do what accomplised hunters do. Take 3 breaths. Exhale the frst two completely. On the third exhale partly, hold and take your shot.

  • Kindred September 6, 2009 05:46 pm

    It seems one has to be a contortionist to prevent camera shake. What if you're old, fat, feeble, lazy, or drunk? There are other means such as miniature bean bags which can be made at home. Monopods seem to be the rage today. A walking stick with a Y-shaped fork at the top is handy. I prefer a Quick-Flip flash bracket. Some cities won't allow photos without a tripod. Still, a fun read.

  • Pat Bloomfield September 6, 2009 02:59 am

    Technique one will not work at all - at least not as shown in the photograph.

    Elbows into side is good but what about those feet?

    Without a good solid base anything else will be wasted effort. You need a good wide stance with feet at least shoulder width apart. You should also stand roughly side on to your subject - if you stand straight on you'll be rocking back and forth. This could ruin your focus especially shooting white open with a telephoto lens.

    Everything else looked good :-)

    Pat Bloomfield
    PatB Photography

  • oliverignacio September 5, 2009 03:39 pm

    This is the first time I've read the article. Thanks for the info.

    @ reznor... read the first paragraph, they say they have updated this article

  • John Bokma September 5, 2009 11:40 am

    @Reznor Thanks! I was 100% sure I had seen those photos before somewhere. Didn't notice until you mentioned it that this article has comments from 2008...

  • Odisseus September 5, 2009 06:07 am

    Regards to Natalie, who is not only a good photographer, but also an absolutely charming lady. Very good tips here and I consider them the best so far. Even if you lean against something your hands will still shake or move up and nown no matter how hard you try. But this article explains how to get your hands steady which is more inportant. Thank you!

  • Martin Oberg September 5, 2009 05:10 am

    Cement is the glue that holds the sand & rock together to form concrete. A often misused word. You walk or stand on concrete not cement. One of my pet peeves. Good help on holding your camera steady.

  • Ray Rhodes September 5, 2009 04:15 am

    Thanks very much.... there are some great options here I nver heard of of thought of myself

  • Gaard September 5, 2009 03:20 am

    Very nice, I'll try de gunmachine myself, it looks fun; have any tips for reversed-lens macro photography while standing? I usually have a lot of truble with that and beetween holding my position and getting close just enough it geths either way blurry or panned =(

  • Zack Jones September 5, 2009 02:54 am

    Thanks for digging up this article. I had never thought of shooting using those techniques.

  • Michael September 5, 2009 02:13 am

    Nice article. Thanks.

    I'd like to throw one more easy one into the mix. I've never called it anything before, but for the sake of this comment let's call it the "reverse tripod". Basically, the idea is to use a line create a tension that will help you hold your camera steady. I've used this for successful shots up to 1/4 second.

    This little technique will cost you less than a dollar, and packs easily into your bag - ready for use whenever you find yourself wishing you had a tripod and don't.

    Go to your local hardware store and get a 1/2" bolt in the size "1/4 20" and a nut to fit it.. Someone there will know what that means. Get some string while you're there if you don't have any at home. There is usually some stiff colored string used for marking concrete sidewalks and stuff.

    Cut a length of string that's about foot taller than you are. Tie a loop in one end with a good, non-slipping knot. The loop should be big enough to slip over your shoe. The other end should come up to about your nose when you stand on the loop.

    Tie the non-loop end to the bolt. Make the knot tight, but not too bulky. Screw the nut down on top of the knot and tighten it with a small wrench.

    Now, when you need a tripod, screw the bolt into the tripod mount in the bottom of your camera or lens mount. Stick your foot in the loop and pull upwards gently as you frame your shot. The tension in the line will help steady your camera, especially in conjuntion with some of the hand-held tips in the article.

  • sacheen September 5, 2009 01:41 am

    camera shake -reducing techniques are very helpful to new photographers. thanks.

  • Rob Greer September 5, 2009 01:29 am

    One way to become a better photographer is to join the Marine Corps and become an expert marksman. All of the best (rifle) shooting techniques apply to photography. Breathe in, release 1/2, squeeze (slowly). And don't forget one method that wasn't mentioned -- use your camera strap as a sling to tighten the camera to your body.

  • the666bbq September 5, 2009 01:03 am

    so what, repetition is the base for all education, and new comments can be productive (if the author wants to) Like : high heels only contribute to overall body stability (and thus stability in the image) on turf or any other soft surface where you can plant them deep into the ground. For all other purposes firm (flat) shoes may be better (sport rifle shootes practically wear ski boots, not for comfort that is).
    People that dig 'into' the article and images and are not focussed on those tiny red cover-ups would notice that teacher natalie is wearing very small heels for her stability tutorial ;-) But than again, some women can do amazing things on stilettos...(like the yearly high heel sprint competition, what were you thinking??)

  • James Hildred September 5, 2009 12:06 am

    A little more stability can be achieved through proper stance when used with the standing techniques above. Standing with the feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent provides a solid base combined with the ability to swivel at the hips and shift your weight from foot to foot without altering your camera holding position.Great for panning action.

  • Reznor September 4, 2009 10:19 pm

    Who dug out this article? It's over a year old, look at the comments, they are from July 2008.

  • Jesper Revald September 4, 2009 06:50 pm

    Squeezing your shutter the correct way is something you must learn as well. I once read about a photography teacher who wouldn't let his students pass his class before they could press the shutter without moving the finger :) I know it sounds silly, but try it. Gently squeeze it right up to the point just before it clicks. Then try and watch your finger. See if you can trigger the shutter without any visible movement of the finger. It can be done, and I guess it will help reduce camera shake from the triggering just a little.

  • Travel and Landscape Photography September 4, 2009 05:15 pm

    Definitely worth to watch great video tutorial from Joe McNally:
    It's different than #2 from above. Much better and stable.

  • robb September 4, 2009 02:41 pm

    i suddenly remember shooting like a sniper when u mention exhale technique.
    machine gun holder works for me, but i still find the best is double elbows in.
    good job sharing this.

  • Jore Puusa September 4, 2009 02:30 pm

    Never elbows in.
    Elbows work like bumpers and should hang freely.
    Watch the professional ( and I mean PROFESSIONAL) pressphotographers working.
    Elbows in and your whole body trembles and makes pictures shaky.
    Jore Puusa
    teacher of photojournalism

  • Trina Coen September 4, 2009 01:44 pm

    Thanks for the tips. I get very shakey when out on a photo shoot, and I will share these tips with my dad who has ETs (essential tremors).

  • France September 4, 2009 11:26 am

    Great tips! I didn't read all of the posts so someone may have already mentioned this one...
    Seth Resnik gave us a steady shooting tip at his D-65 Workflow workshop. He suggested turning on the motor drive and running off two or three shots with one push of the shutter button. The action of pushing down often results in unintended movement which you won't have as you'll just hold it down for the second and third frames. Tried it and it does seem to work.

  • dcclark September 4, 2009 10:24 am

    Actually, that monster lens might *help* steady the camera! Mass acts as a dampener. Sometimes having heavier equipment can at least smooth and slow your movements.

  • Clayton Bruster September 4, 2009 09:50 am

    Excellent suggestions Natalie. Also finding a wall, a tree or a lamp post to steady against can be a big help. I have used benches, rocks, tree branches and many other fairly stationary items as a resting point for the camera to steady it.

    Kudos. Keep up the great pointers.

    Clayton Bruster

  • Mel September 4, 2009 09:48 am

    Very good info... use tripod when possible

  • Friar September 4, 2009 09:29 am

    How about not using a monster lens that weighs 30 lbs? ;-)

  • the666bbq September 4, 2009 09:23 am

    nice hips tips Natalie - probably nice hips too but hey we'll never know ;-)
    string method is ok (but Europeans might have a hard time to find the right bolt with the right threads - you could as well attach the cord to a small tabletop tripod you might have laying around (tooshie up)
    wrapping the camera strap around elbow and wrist (like mentionned in Kelby's first book) works fine ... but the length has to be ok, and 'that' length might not be the length you need to rest the camera on your beerbelly; maybe those 'real' wrist wraps can be handy and cheap for extra stability than...
    tripods and monopods are probably obvious to most, no point in bragging that you know that one and that the teacher did not mention it ... glad you woke up for this class but keep it nice will you.

  • marc September 4, 2009 07:52 am

    Hello Natalie. I enjoy your posts very much and this latest is very helpful. I've also found that using a heavy camera, along with one of the beanbag style pods helps to act as a damper against the body, especially for #1, #3, and #5. Of course all this is predicated on having the time to get into these postures in the first place. otherwise, I think we are best to keep our cameras set for a fast shutter speed and then let the ISO get bumped automatically rather than risk losing the shot. modern dslrs and noise reduction software continue to make remarkable improvements. thanks!

  • cindy September 4, 2009 07:31 am

    these tips are great and some are new to me. i'll give the machine gun style a try for sure. laying down is great, until it's time to get up, especially when i'm not with my husband ;).

  • Sambhaji Patil, INDIA July 13, 2009 06:17 pm

    Ya! Thanks a lot, one tip from me also...

    By following above tips you'll avoid camera shake definatly, Still you feel you've not done till satisfaction.... there are photoshop filters available for correcting Motion blur ! :)

  • Lils June 15, 2009 05:42 pm

    Thanks for the tip, much appreciated. This is very useful to know, esp. if shooting in a crowded/restricted area where you CANNOT bring a tripod. I have 2 which I use, one big and one small, plus a monopd, but sometimes, I can't use either if I am limited in what I can carry so its worth practising these positions just in case you cannot bring a tripod, or monopod with you.

  • Gatch May 13, 2009 10:12 pm

    Great tips! Thanks a lot! I noticed though that she is not using any camera sling while doing all this positions. Or just to better show the type of hold the sling was removed.

  • Ken Morrocco May 8, 2009 11:30 pm

    In recent years, my "steady hand" has become not so steady. I don't always remember to cart around my tripod, but I have become best friends with my cameras 2 second timer. I set the camera on anything stable and steady. Use twigs or a plastic grocery bag to raise the lense for proper framing. Set the timer. Hit the button and you have a nice steady shot. Especially good for improvised macro work!

  • Lucian February 25, 2009 10:20 am

    Thanks for the great article. Most comments show that people do use various techniques already, and I loved the tips listed above. I have used various as well, my favourite remaining tho touching a solid surface, like a tree when outdoors, or lamp post, with the camera if possible or with the elbow/shoulder.

    But a question, maybe subject for a new thread: what about IS or VR (I have IS)? My experiences are not too good, or I may not know what to expect. Except for the point of focus, there seems to be added blur to the rest of the picture if the subject is in motion. If not in motion, why IS/VR at all? Any other experiences ? The few articles found on this site are neutral (ie: you can use one) or rather negative : Here . Huh ?

  • Rodrigo Manguba January 2, 2009 07:25 pm

    I usually use Technique #1, but I notice that your model's got a wrong position. It should be better if both her feet should be far apart from each other. That way it's more stable.

  • Jamex January 2, 2009 02:56 am

    It is obvious but ignored.

    I have noticed that I now shake more as my abs, glutes and posterior decline in quality. So if you want steadier pictures, get in shape.

  • Susannah January 1, 2009 06:52 am

    I have very shaky hands. Always have, since long before I discovered cameras. I've found that in tricky situations, I can lean on anything at all, even a small branch, for support. The trick is to hook the little finger of the right hand around the branch or whatever. My hand stabilizes the branch, the branch stabilizes my hand. Shouldn't work, but it does.

    Of course, if there's anything solid in the vicinity, I will lean on that. Or hug it, with my left arm.

  • Pat January 1, 2009 06:11 am

    Some great tips although not sure about tips 1 & 2, shouldn't they be combined to give a good stance and then lock elbow against body to keep everything tight?

  • Nate November 14, 2008 03:53 am

    Would I get in too much trouble for noting that as a wife, a mom, and a photographer...that you're kinda hot?

  • Doryen September 23, 2008 10:23 am

    Also found this:

  • Doryen September 23, 2008 10:17 am

    Hey, great stuff here!

    I've found that if the situation permits, a tripod really helps eliminate camera shake. And NO I don't mean putting it on the tripod and sitting it down on the ground. I mean screw the cam onto the tripod, fold up the legs, and use the tripod as a steadicam weight!

    I realize this refers to video cameras, but there's no reason it couldn't help still cameras either.

  • Andrew September 17, 2008 12:22 am

    I think the bulk of my camera shake would be eliminated if I gave up alcohol. But that seems a step too far.

    Useful tips, thanks.

  • Hafiz September 15, 2008 01:08 am

    Typically I just use my tripod.

    But nice trips and will definitely give it a try.

  • charu kinjawadekar September 7, 2008 11:42 pm

    Since last 15 years Iam working as a commercial photographer.Sometimes carring heavy tripod with you for a shoot where you have to move fast from one viewpoint to another,is bit difficult.Your tips are great in such situations.With the help of such tips, photography becomes faster,quicker,easier.One can definatly try these tips to avoid use of tripod, but for long exposures one have to use tripod.

  • Dirk Gardner August 21, 2008 01:51 pm

    Excellent tips! I must say that I have always had trouble framing shots and they often end up out of focus. I can see that your advice is going to help a lot!

  • Josh August 10, 2008 05:30 am

    I've been a phoptographer all my life and I can assure you that the best way to avoid camera shake, even at hight shutter speeds, is a tripod.

  • tonnie August 7, 2008 04:10 am

    @jim: Win

  • brett August 7, 2008 03:58 am

    Haha i think the tooshie wouldnt have been such a bad addition but maybe thats just me ;]

  • Brandon August 6, 2008 11:08 am

    I like your tips, but i wish you hadnt covered up her bottom, i bet it would be beautiful. :)

  • ildvr July 19, 2008 01:04 am

    sometimes better not to use heavy camera, but only on special events. 20% of all suits you don't have to..

  • alberto July 15, 2008 08:55 pm

    Fantastic tips my friend
    I have a canon 100-400mm and sometimes I dont have a tripo. with me.
    your tips will help a lot

  • John Rocha July 11, 2008 06:07 am


    Love the tips - still as you're willing to lie on the ground I'd just as soon include walls, trees, lamposts and all those other tripod substitutes out there. Anything to stop people shaking their digicams resonates with me.

  • Long Nguyen July 10, 2008 10:33 am

    The main advice seems to find an awkward position. That's fine, I often lie on the ground to shoot from the bottom up to give a sense of grandeur.

  • Martin July 9, 2008 06:34 pm

    Following on from some of the comments about the feet position....wouldn't flat shoes provide a more stable posture than heels?

  • Jon - The DC Travel;er July 9, 2008 11:01 am

    My mother, a professional photographer, always told me to take a deep breath, then let out just a bit of air, and then steady yourself and shoot.

  • Lex July 8, 2008 03:42 pm

    here's a stabalizer... a screw, a piece of string and a weight. cut the string to the length of your to to your eye, tie a weight to one end and the screw to the other. screw it into your camera, drop the weight to the ground and the string pulled past loose should stabalize your shot quite nicely.

  • Fiona July 8, 2008 04:14 am

    Great ideas. Thanks for another brilliant piece. And trust you me, I would have deleted my bootie as well!

  • Fivestring July 7, 2008 12:52 am

    Get a piece of string about 5' long. Tie one end to a large washer and the other to a 1/4 - 20 screw, about 1" long. Roll it up and put it in your bag. When you need a tripod, screw the screw into the camera tripod socket, drop the washer and stand on it. Stretch the string tight and use position #1 above.

    Also, I'd like to see your ass please.

  • Jon July 4, 2008 02:14 am

    I was going to mention the string to the foot method but I see there are already several links to the video in multiple locations including the one on instructables.

    My favorite technique though is to use my little (3" bendable legs) tripod and brace it against walls, poles, trees etc... I find this especially useful when hiking but I never carry my camera anywhere without it.

  • Jimbo July 3, 2008 02:03 pm

    What is the deal with these pictures from the 1950's? Is your training program that old? Shouldn't you update your program so that it seems more credible?

  • Wanderus July 3, 2008 03:59 am

    Thanks! I hate it when i have to take thousands of shots just bc i can't get rid of the shakes. Will try

  • Richard X. Thripp July 1, 2008 07:27 pm

    I especially emphasize technique 6. By holding the body with my right hand and gripping the lens firmly with my left, I find I can take clear photos at 1/25, with a 50mm lens on a 1.6-crop body. If that doesn't work, I like laying on the ground (4), holding my breath, or leaning against a tree.

    Great article, and the demonstration photos are entertaining.

  • steven July 1, 2008 02:07 pm

    You can attach one end of a long string to where a tripod attaches and put a washer on the other. Then just step on the washer and pull up on the string.
    dunno if I would want to attach it to the lens.

  • Cristian July 1, 2008 05:53 am

    Thanks for the tips, Natalie!
    I'm photographing mostly small creatures (insects, spiders, snakes, lizards etc.), so the obvious (and nauseating) advice - use a tripod! - doesn't really work for me.
    I'll keep in mind some of your suggestions and I also have my own techniques to avoid camera shake:
    1. I try to lean against a tree, when one is available
    2. When possible, I try to rest my camera on an object (rock, stump, fence etc.) rather than hold it

  • Megapixelicious July 1, 2008 12:33 am

    This is funny because I have an article on my blog that details all reason why I shot might not be sharp with the EXCEPTION of camera shake. I guess reading both articles could only help:

  • Josh June 30, 2008 11:10 pm

    Wow Jeans.. nice comment idiot.

    Anyway, in the vein of those who tie a piece of string to their camera, there's a slightly easier way to do it.

    Still involves string, but attaches to the tripod mount of your camera and helps out a LOT.

  • jeans June 30, 2008 11:11 am

    hey RETARDS !

    Try using a TRIPOD or MONOPOD to reduce camera shake !!!!!

    Its the best camera investment you will ever make.

  • Horus June 30, 2008 01:41 am

    Hi thank you for the great tips, it must be good for your posture to this camera yoga. My one tip is to have a piece of string tied around the lens and a loop for the foot, then make the string tight i.e. make sure the string is just shorter than the length between foot and when camera is upto your eye.
    Once setup you can just roll it up and place in pocket.

    Take care of you and yours.

  • Ricky June 29, 2008 08:55 am

    You are hot. And no, I could not ignore it...

  • Brian June 29, 2008 04:45 am

    I see Vijeh posted it directly above too.
    Must be good to get so many posts.

  • Brian June 29, 2008 04:43 am

    The string thing Bill mentioned works and is extremely portable.

    I saw it on Lifehacker

  • irishdave June 28, 2008 11:36 pm

    HA. typical woman to worry how her ass looks on an anonymous post. im sure its a beautiful bottom :)

  • Vijesh June 28, 2008 08:52 pm

    There is another cool way, which I stumbled upon! Have a look and give it a try!

  • jimmy June 28, 2008 07:39 pm

    I use a bolt that screws in where the tripod does with a string that I can stand on. Keep upward pressure. Works great for video too. Easier to carry than a tripod and can be used in any position. Well almost any.

  • jim June 28, 2008 02:06 am

    i fapped to the pics

  • genostinger June 28, 2008 01:34 am

    She looks like a sniper!!!

  • aLiTa June 28, 2008 01:00 am

    another couple of tips:

    keep your feet apart at shoulderwidth.

    LEAN against things, if possible.

    I like to breath in before taking a picture, instead of breathing out. That way, my body doesn't start "panicking" when I need to stay still for a few seconds more. The brain has a function in which it releases adrenaline and whatnot when you stop breathing for too long, trying to force you to grasp for air. That brain-struggle might make you shake.
    Also the beating of your heart can cause motion, so be sure not to take pictures when your heart is beating like a mad man. with a lot of practice, you can learn to listen to your body and make shots in between heart beats (not when you're using long shutterspeed of course)

  • Author: Natalie Norton June 27, 2008 05:24 pm

    The connection there seems to be between firing a gun and shooting a camera is hilarious to me! Who'd a thunk it eh? But it really does make perfect sense! Wow!

    Thanks everyone for sharing! Great tips all around!


  • Timothy June 27, 2008 04:08 pm

    Instead of modifying position you can modify equipment, a nice trick I have learned is to use a bolt, washer, and some twine to reduce shake in place of a tripod, I got the dea from here.

  • speedyplastic June 27, 2008 11:15 am

    here's a link to a how-to:

  • speedyplastic June 27, 2008 11:13 am

    I'm not a photog, but i read an article where a guy (or gal i forget) got a bolt the same size as the tripod mount, then tied it to a piece of string, keeping this in his pocket he (or she) could just screw it in then step on the string pull tight and shoot. seems like that would work good too.

  • Angie June 27, 2008 11:05 am

    Great advice - especially for a very, very, new person to the industry!! These are just options. Find what works best for you and work it!
    Thanks again!!

  • Bonny June 27, 2008 06:51 am

    Fantastic tips!

    Leaning against something steady is great, but if you don't have something solid nearby:
    -lean against your husband/partner.
    -Keeping feet shoulder width apart is also a great tip.
    -a car roof, wall, lamp post, tree trunk, side of a building, post box etc.

  • richard June 26, 2008 02:54 pm

    For those curious about why "elbows in"...I tried it out and I could be wrong but I think this is how it works:

    The elbows in form a tight triangle(obviously)-- tighter than elbows out which creates too much motion. Try doing it with your arms now sitting there in front of your computer. Elbows out. Elbows in. Feel the difference in stability?

    When you pull your elbows into your chest (as Natalie said to do) you stabilize. You've now created a what??? A quick human tripod. It might not work for all (cause it is kind of awkward) but with a little practice I think it will pay off.

    Simple. Brilliant.

  • Richierich June 26, 2008 01:30 pm

    Great tips!
    A small and flexible tripod like the Gorillapod also works wonders ;)

  • 20 Mike Mike June 26, 2008 10:08 am

    The problems we all have to deal with...

    It boils down to a couple of things, which can be oversimplified into breathing, stance, and trigger control.

    The stances above are good, for the most part. Get a solid "weld" between every contact point between your camera and the ground. (Try to get your hand in a supporting position rather than a gripping position).

    Breathing is tough, and it takes understanding your own body. Try to take several slow breaths if you have the time to slow your heartrate, and then exhale normally. You can squeeze the shutter release when you're exhaling, but optimally, pause when your lungs reach equilibrium, and then squeeze.

    I'm not sure how this would work with a camera, but try to squeeze with your entire hand, and not just the finger that's on the shutter release.

    Look on the bright side, people - you don't have to deal with recoil, muzzle flash, and hot bits of metal flying out of various parts of your camera. At least, I hope not. :)

  • Sarah June 26, 2008 08:50 am

    This was another great article, thanks. Not sure I'd be too comfortable with the elbows in, but I'm gonna try it just to see! Anything to help be steadier!

  • Flu June 26, 2008 08:14 am

    Thank you very much for theese helpful tutorials!


  • Greg June 26, 2008 12:58 am

    Excellent again, well done.

  • Harry Phillips June 25, 2008 11:43 pm

    Another option, if you haven't got a dSLR already buy a Pentax or other brand that has IS in the body.

    I have a Pentax K10D with a 22 year old manual focus 50mm lens, hey presto it has IS because it is included in the body.

    Fantastic lens for lowlight portrait work.

  • Jay June 25, 2008 11:13 pm

    that was a very good demonstration !!!!! very helpful too.

  • Dean June 25, 2008 10:12 pm

    I have found my Lowepro AW200 slingshot makes a handy rest when pulled to the front of me. i use it while kneeling and standing to rest my arms on.

  • GregB June 25, 2008 07:26 pm

    I wrap the camera strap around my arm/elbow and then tension this when I push the camera forward. It's remarkably steady and definitely worth a try as you already have it attached to the camera.

  • Paulo Jordao Photography June 25, 2008 04:19 pm

    Cool tricks... Great post I will try few of this positions. Thanks for the high quality posts that you write here in your blog
    Paulo Jordao

  • Author: Natalie Norton June 25, 2008 02:13 pm

    One and all:

    Trust you me. . . no one needs a near full frame eye full of my tooshie. :)


  • mintrax June 25, 2008 02:01 pm

    I notice many stance techniques here but the best solution I have found is to ALWAYS shoot in burst mode. You take say 6 of them is going to be the best you can get. It has improved my success rate immensely.

  • Bastaman June 25, 2008 01:46 pm

    Thanks to DPS for the techniques. I have already giving teaching these techniques to my students so that they can shoot a grwt picture without any shaking error. Finally these are really great tips.

    Thanks again.

  • TH June 25, 2008 12:59 pm

    I've seen POD beanbags, but one day I had to go out without one, and I just brought along a face towel which is moldable into different shapes/heights, and soft enough for my camera to sit snugly on. Only catch is that you have to find a surface with the height you desire.
    With a two-second delay for each shot, you get a nice image, just like if you used a tripod.

  • Bro June 25, 2008 09:36 am

    great tips, i always use my riends shoulder as a very flexable and adjustable tripod

  • nate June 25, 2008 05:49 am

    This is fantastic info.


  • Jackpee June 25, 2008 05:43 am

    I've heard that holding your elbows firmly against your sides, taking a shoulder-width stance, and holding the viewfinder right up against your eye is a good way to go. I think that would be more effective and more comfortable than holding your elbows together or in front of you.

  • Ragnar June 25, 2008 04:50 am

    I completely agree with Jason on the bolt, string, washer method, see

  • David June 25, 2008 04:30 am

    Ohh almost forgot. Another good tip is a wired or wireless shutter release. Prop your camera onto a solid surface or a tripod and being snapping away with 0 shake :)

  • David June 25, 2008 04:28 am

    Great Tips!

  • Michelle McCormack June 25, 2008 04:20 am

    Don't forget: Stop Drinking

  • Peter Liu June 25, 2008 03:44 am

    Very cool! Thanks for the tips. I've used a couple of these, but didn't know the others. Learn something new every day! :)

  • Wiggy June 25, 2008 03:30 am

    Thanks for your tips. Who needs a tripod now? ;)

  • Mike June 25, 2008 01:43 am

    The behavior that causes the most camera shake (most of the time) is actually pressing the button. Hook a remote up to your camera and use that instead (as you can just squeeze it and press with your thumb). Reduces a lot of camera shake.

  • SomeAudioGuy June 25, 2008 01:17 am

    Those are GREAT!
    I have pretty shaky hands, and there will be times where I just don't pull out the camera (like low light) because I know I just can't make the shot work and I don't have a tripod.

    I'll give these a shot!

  • ShannonS June 25, 2008 12:53 am

    I found this bean bag stabilizer online.

    However, being a cheapskate, I discovered that you can make one yourself very cheaply. I believe one of the other commentors mentioned it.

    You can also often find these cheap beanbags in toy departments.


  • only1cinn June 25, 2008 12:52 am

    Thanks for the great tips everyone! I'm a newbie, and need all the help I can get!!:)

  • Alex June 25, 2008 12:50 am

    Uh, what's up with the red scribble marks over your bum?

  • ED June 25, 2008 12:19 am

    Use the shutter timer function found in most cameras. I have found that pressing the shutter release button often introduces unnecessary shake.

  • Rick Cain June 25, 2008 12:15 am

    A collapsible monopod really comes in handy, and its pretty portable. Good tips, but you might need some therapy about your self-esteem issue concerning your butt.

  • Rob Sorfleet June 25, 2008 12:11 am

    Although I am not a professional photographer I was given an old SLR camera, when I was younger, that belonged to my grandfather. In the camera case was a length of string with a washer at one end and a screw at the other end. My father told me that my grandfather used it as a sort of tripod by fastening the screw into the camera base where a tripod would normally be fastened and then he held the string taught by putting his foot onto the washer and pulling the string tight by raising the camera to his eye. This would help to steady the camera so he could take better pictures.

  • Clark Griffiths June 24, 2008 11:47 pm

    Here is a great video from youtube done by world famous photographer Joe Mcnally. It explains the camera grip he uses when shooting in the field.

  • Black Owl Studio June 24, 2008 11:25 pm

    Great advice, I'd like to add a few.

    Breathing is first and foremost. As you squeeze the shutter, exhale gently. This is the same advice as we were given in the Army during shooting training.

    Second, just get a beanbag. My wife makes Sage beanbags, but any will work, and set the camera on it, wrap it around a half-rolled down window, on the wet fence, on the side of a rock, use your beanbag, protect your camera.

    SHUTTER SPEED. Go faster. Seriously. Set your camera to A/Tv
    and crank it to double the focal length. ie; if you are shooting a 100mm lens, set your shutter speed to 1/250. and use your exposure compensation if it's darker than you like, you can also shoot in RAW/NEF mode and nondestructively adjust the exposure.

    I rarely use a tripod and I have a fairly heavy D300 w/70-300mm Sigma on it alot. Pics are on the link above. I shoot from the deck of a moving ferry daily.


  • Tom King June 24, 2008 10:25 pm

    Good stuff! Thanks for sharing. You crack me up!

  • Jimmy Dowipe June 24, 2008 09:35 pm

    Wow dude, very good tips. very good tips indeed.


  • Marc June 24, 2008 09:16 pm

    thanks :D great tips

  • curtis June 24, 2008 05:43 pm

    Great tips!

    But tell me, why'd ya score out your bum?!?!


  • Matt Moran June 24, 2008 05:09 pm

    Much the same as shooting a gun really. That crouched position with the elbow on the knee is a classic.

  • buns June 24, 2008 04:45 pm

    "kindly ignore"


  • gravity June 24, 2008 04:42 pm

  • subcorpus June 24, 2008 04:40 pm

    i'm gonna try these this weekend ...
    lets see how these positions work for me eh ...
    thanks for this ... appreciated ...

  • Mike A June 24, 2008 04:02 pm

    An army trained sniper taught me one-- shoot (literally for him) while you're exhaling rather than inhaling, because your body tends to be more still while exhaling. Not as good as leaning on something, but a decent trick in a jam, or with wide to intermediate lenses.

    Happy shooting (photographs!)

  • Anonymous June 24, 2008 03:52 pm

    Hold a point-and-shoot camera against your nose.

  • Matt June 24, 2008 03:19 pm

    I experiments and found one grip that works decently. What you do is hold the grip of the camera in your fist, like a roll of quarters when you want to punch, and trigger with your thumb. Think pistol grip, and use your thumb to fire.

    It has the effect of letting you get good pressure on the grip and also trigger with the thumb, the digit that is most appropriate for working 90 degrees off from the rest of the hand. The pressure is good as it has the effect of locking the wrist and stabilizing that joint.

    I am loving all of the suggestions. Thanks guys!

  • Igor June 24, 2008 03:19 pm

    My way to reduce lens shake is to increase the mass of camera. So it's better for example to use light camera with battery grip. Or you can construct additional heavy ballast. I sometimes connect a small bag with several stones to little tripod plate that is attached to my camera beneath. The shape of this plate allows to hang a ballast.

    I use this technique in my country house when shooting birds at trees or macro. Actually I like to move from point to point when shooting so tripod is not alway helps me.

    I know it will take you some time to construct this but it's funny. And if there is no another alternatives to reduce camera shake, this solution will help to achieve some sharp images.

  • jhuntarun June 24, 2008 02:47 pm

    thanks for the tips. I will definitely try this techniques.

  • Paul June 24, 2008 01:47 pm

    I've sometimes held the camera with one end jammed up against a wall, doorframe or similar for support, and the strap wrapped around my hand (mostly in case I slip and drop the camera!).

  • Supercheapcamera June 24, 2008 01:29 pm

    Bad advice starting from photo 1. The feet need to be spread a bit and the left one in front (for right handed people)

    try google

  • Sean June 24, 2008 11:16 am

    The machine gun hold is a tough one to get any benefit from with shorter lenses. I found a more effective tip from Scott Kelby's The Digital Photography Book when hand holding a shorter lens.

    The tip was from photographer Joel Lipovetsky and what he termed "The Death Grip." It involves hand-holding the camera with the strap wrapped around your arm just above the elbow. Then you wrap it around the outside of your wrist and pull it tight. The book includes a photo that makes the idea very clear, but I am unable to load it into the comment section here.

    Bottom line though is that it is very effective regardless of what lens you are using.

  • Luke June 24, 2008 10:44 am

    Following on from alot of commenters above, I think that an overlooked suggestion for avoiding shake is - "Find something to lean/press/prop yourself against." A tree, a bench, a lamp-post, a wall, anything that you can brace yourself or your hand, or the lens against will reduce the number of axes you need to actively support the camera/lens in.

    Another cheat is to use a String Tripod - - it's basically a piece of cord which you attach to your camera and it gives you something to brace against to again, reduce the axes you have to work in.

  • Jennifer June 24, 2008 09:09 am

    Natalie you are so, so awesome!
    Wrapping the strap tightly around your elbow and wrist can help. Also, leaning against a solid object helps, as well as using a mono pod (a little more convenient than a tripod). Thanks for the tips!

  • Nick June 24, 2008 07:33 am

    I like these tips. There is one that is similar to the machine gun hold. Take a medium sized tripod, attach your camera to it, fix it in the position as if you are doing a vertical shot, lock it in place, fold up your tripod with your camera still attached, and hold it in the sniper position (machine gun position) with the tripod over opposite arm. You can also use a monopod. I found this to work best when working steady shots but need to move around alot! Sometimes just setting up a tripod doesn't work because when you need to move there isn't time to readjust your tripod!


  • badfrog June 24, 2008 07:25 am

    Proper breathing and balance as taught in Tai Chi or Yoga makes a huge difference. I do a lot of field camera work for CTV, and can't always use a tripod. Also I use the old trick of tying a cord around the retaining screw, stepping on the other end of the cord, and pushing up to take away the slack. Works.

  • duncan June 24, 2008 07:03 am

    i'm a big fan of wrapping the camera strap around my hand a good few times to keep the camera close and tight to my head.

    also... be aware of your breathing: same techniques as rifle shooting apply: breathe out before taking a shot.

  • Jason June 24, 2008 06:55 am

    Have you ever thought about something like this?

    A bolt, a string, and a big washer is all you need for a cheap stabilizer.

  • 3afsa June 24, 2008 06:36 am

    Wow !!! great tips,
    I like the "The Machine Gun Hold" technique most, very helpful and steady.

  • senaz June 24, 2008 06:12 am

    great tips, since i'm not fond carrying around a tripod..thanks nat!

  • Craig Colvin June 24, 2008 05:41 am

    Another technique in conjunction with these tips is to shoot in burst mode and take 3-8 shots. This increases the chance of getting a nice stable shot.

  • David June 24, 2008 05:36 am

    Before getting my dSLR, I used a medium-sized tripod as a "rifle stock" and shot pictures using the same techniques used in shooting a rifle. Unfortunately that tripod doesn't work as well with the dSLR (different weight distribution) so I'm back to learning new techniques. The ones presented here will really come in handy.

  • Geotography June 24, 2008 05:33 am

    your article is great and you are awesome! Thanks. Here is my tip: I made a 10-inch long bean bag with 2.5 pounds of navy beans and two socks (one inside the other, double-lined). When I am doing street photography and traveling light, I pack that beanbag into a small fanny pack that I sling around my shoulder. I use this versatile bean bag in a multitude of ways and it works great for me along with all of your tips and the tips of others commenting.



  • John June 24, 2008 04:56 am

    I always carry the Joby GorillaPod in my camera bag and find it very useful in lots of situations where a standard tripod would not give me the ideal position (and I hate taking a huge tripod with me...)

  • richard June 24, 2008 04:25 am

    EXCELLENT article. Why use a tripod when you can make a tribod? I don't like carrying around a tripod for shoots. This is helpful. THANK YOU!

  • Luis Galindes June 24, 2008 04:13 am

    I could watch you demonstrate anti-camera shake positions all day.

    Bravo on the ultra sexy demo ;)

  • SB June 24, 2008 04:06 am

    One thing that I do to reduce camera shake when I don't have a tripod is to brace myself against something sturdy and use the self-timer. I found that not having to use my muscle to operate the shutter release allows me to significantly reduce camera movement.

  • zhylax June 24, 2008 04:05 am

    coool... I might try these out someday.
    I use Nikon D60 with VR 18-55 kit lens but I just can't figure out how the VR works since I still get blurry and shakey images.

    anyway great tips and great thanks!

  • Jozef Nagy June 24, 2008 03:42 am

    Great tips. I can't believe how identical these tips are to shooting a firearm. For any of you who go shooting, these tips are already well ingrained in your muscle memory.

    "Shooting" a firearm or a camera requires the same principle of breath control and stability. Now if only my shooting was as accurate as my low-light photography...

  • Kent June 24, 2008 03:23 am

    I use the cam pod - ( when a tripod is to awkward.

  • Leorolim June 24, 2008 03:12 am

    Great advices!
    Reminds me of the U.S. Army Sniper training manual :D
    Because we are to become sharpshooters ;)


  • Steve June 24, 2008 03:12 am

    Wall, bean bag, arms tucked in are my favorite steadiers. Some of the postions are probably great for those of us not approaching 50 and with an extra 20lb ballast of our own.

  • Mari June 24, 2008 02:49 am

    Thank you so much!!!! I'm constantly getting the jitter warning - even on my image stabilized lens. I just can't seem to hold still enough. Plus, I shoot bands in low light contantly, so they're always moving - I'm always moving - well, you get the picture. These tips will help tons!!

  • K June 24, 2008 02:43 am

    How does tensing your arms to force your elbows in reduce shake? My hands shake noticeably more if I'm exerting my arms to keep the elbows together, while my upper arms bend back to hold the camera. I don't get it.

  • anamika June 24, 2008 02:28 am

    I also carry a mini table-top tripod in my camera bag; came in very handy when taking night illumination shots at Mt Rushmore.

  • anamika June 24, 2008 02:24 am

    Things I try include:
    - Leaning against a solid surface.
    - Digging my arms in, standing with feet apart and exhaling before clicking.
    - Also kneeling or squatting with as much contact with a solid surface as possible so as to avoid any swaying or bouncing (#6 looks a bit unsteady to me).

  • João Almeida June 24, 2008 02:07 am

    Another vote for using a wall, a post or something similar and allways have a pocket size tripod on your bag, while not being perfect it's better than nothing.

  • Bill June 24, 2008 02:04 am

    I haven't tried this yet, but this DIY video seems to offer a good tip for a cheap and easy-to-transport way to increase stability while maintaining flexibility:

  • Shelly June 24, 2008 01:47 am

    Another excellent article! More and more things I can use as I become a better photographer. Thank you.

  • Rosh June 24, 2008 01:25 am

    Also, Her hand seems off. The palm of her hand should be more at the base or even turned other other way. It looks very uncomfortable.


  • Rosh June 24, 2008 01:23 am

    When I'm in need of a slower shutter speed I'll use my 135 2.8. It's a shorter lens and not has heavy. I can still get compression and tight shots with little to zero movement. Especially good for events.

    I'm not a fan of tri-pods, they are too constricting (unless it's a long exposure).

    Remember, don't judge a photographer by the size of their lens.


  • Tomi Satryatomo June 24, 2008 01:06 am

    I've used all the techniques mentioned above, except no.6, + tips shared by Mathieau, but I find it more effective to train myself to breathe slower. Jogging, swimming, cycling and other kind of aerobic exercises should be able to help us breathe in slower pace. The best is, of course, yoga.

  • dezza June 24, 2008 01:02 am

    The tips are good but I think the footing is terrible!
    Especially in #1 and #2, the feet should be shoulder width apart..keeping your feet close together as shown in the photo will not stabilize your body from swaying...

  • Raymond Chan June 24, 2008 12:56 am

    Er.. get a tripod? =P

  • Robert June 24, 2008 12:46 am

    What you refer to as the "machine gun" position (I'd call it "foxhole supported" :) ) works well leaning up to something and is very steady. You lean your body up against the wall / side of the car / etc. and drape your left arm and shoulder against the top, pivoting your right shoulder to point the camera. Actually most of these have very much in common with shooting positions except #6, which doesn't look real steady to me.

  • Andre June 24, 2008 12:41 am

    Here's a tip I use: Have a small tripod (like a GorillaPod) attached to the camera. Even pressing this against your stomach or chest will stabilize the camera very nicely.

  • hlngre23 June 24, 2008 12:29 am

    Great tips, thank you! Although I love my tripod I don't always want to have to carry it around so these tips will really come in handy.

  • Mathieu June 24, 2008 12:21 am

    Great tips, thank you very much! Here's a few tips of my own to reduce camera shake.
    Put your camera on a steady surface, such as a table, a wall, anything solid that won't move.
    Lean yourself on a wall or a lamppost.
    Get closer to your subject, the less you have to zoom, the less your lens will shake.

    Cheers, Mathieu