The lady who was taking a picture of her left ear didn’t. Not that is until I (gently, very gently) turned the camera over – because she was looking through the wrong end of the viewfinder. I’ve often wondered how long she had been doing that with her camera. The resulting snaps of her holiday in Italy might best be described as ‘Travels With My Ear’.
Now admittedly, this was pre-digital and viewfinders have mostly been replaced by screens on the back of the camera that you generally can’t see in bright sunshine and end up peering and blinking at or, if you’re anything like me, swearing at. Or the screen could be on the front if you’re taking a selfie. Personally I prefer photobombing other peoples selfies. Far more fun but can be a little dangerous.
Well, now we’ve established that the lens of the camera should point towards the subject, how best to hold it? With image stabilised cameras, on the end of a very long stick using one hand can work. (Please note: Cameras stuck to the ends of sticks should ideally be attached securely and not, as I once had the startling pleasure of witnessing, with sticky tape and chewing gum).
That said, even image stabilized cameras work best if held steady. And as the light fades, this becomes increasingly important. So dear reader, please try and get into the pro’s habit of holding your camera correctly at all times. And this doesn’t mean rolling around on the floor saying: ‘Nice! Yeah baby! Give me that look again! Beautiful! Love it baby! Yeah, lick your lips…’ and all the other tedious things hip and trendy photographers say when they are trying to get into a sweet young things pants. I mean, take a good picture. So I’ve been told.
The thing to do is make yourself a tripod. No, not build a tripod – be a tripod.
Legs apart (slightly apart will do fine, we don’t want to scare the horses) so that you are balanced. Then tuck your elbows into your ribs, one hand supporting the camera body (which ideally should be pressed against your eye if you have a viewfinder) leaving the other hand to control the shutter release with a light touch. Your body then becomes almost as ridged as a tripod with your camera at the point. If you can stop breathing at the critical moment of shutter release, so much the better. (If you keep falling over after taking the picture, try starting breathing again a little sooner).
Should you be wearing a cap at the time, turn it back to front. (Not applicable to hip young things as it will be permanently that way anyway).This is doubly important as long cap-peaks can accidentally cover some cameras flash and/or metering systems. Along with this benefit, the adopted stance as described will make you look pro-like and attractive to women. Or if you’re over thirty, an idiot. Or if you have also chosen to wear a ponytail below a balding pate, a double idiot. But the important thing is your pictures stand a better chance of being sharp and in focus. Two very different things actually which I’ll cover in another post along with how to press the shutter.