Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Golden Rules of Photography #1

How to Hand Hold a Camera

This is a photograph of a stained glass window that I liked so much, I promptly sent it off to my photography agent with some additional shots, and fully expected to see it on sale via their website.

But, it was rejected by my agent, because it failed their stringent QC (quality control) processes. The reason given for the fail was "Camera Shake". I was surprised, to say the least, because to the naked eye there doesn't appear to be any shakiness in it. Although I have a heavy camera, and I was using it with a long zoom lens (70 - 200mm) I consider myself to be pretty good at holding it steady.

I used Adobe Lightroom software to look at the EXIF metadata about the image - which gives details of the exposure settings, and camera and lens used, and the "truth" unfolded in front of my eyes. The shutter speed I used was 1/60th sec (one sixtieth of a second). Not that slow, photographically speaking but perhaps too slow to hand hold a heavy camera with a long, heavy lens attached, pointed upwards at a window. And this is where I should have applied today's Golden Rule...

When hand-holding a camera, use a shutter speed that is faster than the longest focal length of the lens.

This is only a general "rule of thumb" which I break all the time -and sometimes get away with it. But, it can be a useful guide to help ensure that your images stay as crisp and sharp as possible.

For a prime lens, the focal length is the length of the lens. For a zoom lens, you should use the maximum focal length that the zoom goes to - so for a 24 - 70mm zoom, you need to set the shutter speed at above 1/70th of a second.

For my shot, with a zoom lens with a maximum focal length of 200mm, I should have followed the rule and set at least 1/250th of a second as the shutter speed. This, in theory, would, have helped me keep the heavy camera steadier and avoided "camera shake".

By the way, I checked my image at 100% in Photoshop - and I see a tiny bit of blur around the hands and face! Damn those eagle-eyed QC people!

See the first link below, for another important Power's "Golden Rule" of photography.

Golden Rules of Photography #2

1 comment:

  1. Very good and timely article Stephen. I've just been through a similar excercise with one of my Alamy images that only under Exif Examination did I see the facts! Its the "P" mode on my camera that does it for me!



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