Piccy piccy shake... fix my pics!
July 21, 2010 1:23 PM   Subscribe

PhotoFilter: I want fewer blurry photos! My hands are relatively steady, but I want to get better. Halp!

I'm trying to take better pics, especially on my iPhone(4) as I've seen some really lovely photos out there. Even in the perfect lighting, I still get these sad, blurry almost-good photos.

Though it usually takes a few tries, I do generally well on my image stabilized point & shoot, and I love a good macro. The things I do to steady my hands with my p&s, however, don't seem to translate when using my phone to snap a shot.

I'm not a jittery person and it doesn't come up in any other aspect of my life, so no doctor visits needed. However, my wrists are a little weak/I have repetitive stress strain, according to my ortho. Would that be a hindrance to stable photos?

Any tips/tricks (besides resting a camera/phone on a surface) to get steadier hands and photos?
posted by inmediasres to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Breathe like a sniper. Brace your upper arms against your body.
posted by availablelight at 1:25 PM on July 21, 2010

Two tricks:

1- (for iphone and P&S) brace your elbows against your belly when you hold up your camera to stabilize your arms.

2- (for the P&S) use a small eyelet screw the same size as your tripod mount and attach a long loop of string to the screw. Step on the string and pull until taut, voila instant stabilization.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 1:27 PM on July 21, 2010

The "arm tripod" where you brace your arms against your ribs is usually the best method. A camera with a real viewfinder that lets you also rest it against your face really helps too.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:30 PM on July 21, 2010

This applies if you're using automatic settings:

* Stop taking pictures in bad light. The camera attempts to compensate by lowering the shutter speed.
* Experiment with the camera's "sport" settings, which move the shutter speed toward faster speeds.
* Use a flash if necessary, and learn to use the flash to your advantage.
* Don't stand too close to your subjects -- there are possible depth of field issues.
* If possible, bracket your photos -- take the same shot at a variety of settings, so you can choose the best ones.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:41 PM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

String tripod!
posted by starman at 1:42 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't have one, but I remember reading that iPhones take the picture when you RELEASE the button, not when you press it. So you should hold your finger on the screen while composing, stabilizing, breathing (or whatever), and release at the right moment.
posted by bcwinters at 1:44 PM on July 21, 2010

Try holding your iPhone sideways, with both hands, you'll have better luck that way.

Also, I have an app on my 3G that I assume is available for the iPhone 4 called Mega Camera. What it does is when you click the shutter, it waits for a moment when your phone is relatively steady before actually taking the shot. It really does help get clearer pictures.
posted by malapropist at 1:46 PM on July 21, 2010

It won't help with blurry, but understanding the Rule of Thirds can certainly help you
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 2:04 PM on July 21, 2010

If you have an iPhone, you can buy the Camera Genius app which will solve your problem. It uses the camera's vibration/motion sensor to detect when the phone is steady enough for a sharp picture. It even displays the amount of vibration in a kind of meter.
posted by conrad53 at 2:21 PM on July 21, 2010

One neat trick is to use the multi-shot feature. Because the blur is pretty random, if you take three or five shots, it's more likely one of them will be lucky and unblurred. Also it can be caused by the shutter depress, and the shots in the middle don't have that. Easier than trying to take that one perfect shot.
posted by smackfu at 2:32 PM on July 21, 2010

For your iPhone 4: Try the free GorillaCam app. It has an anti-shake option: you press the button to take a pic just as you normally would, but the camera won't actually take the pic until you're holding still. I've found it very helpful! I'm guessing Camera Genius (recommended above) does the same thing. It's a super handy trick, not to mention a neat use of the sensors in the iPhone.

Also, the thing about keeping your elbows down... It seemed like pure silliness to me at first, but isn't silly at all. It sure will feel silly the first few times you do it, but it makes a difference. Try this right now: Pick up your camera and focus as if you were going to take a shot. Where were your elbows? If they were out to the sides at all, it's easier for your hands to be wobbly. But if your arms/elbows are pressed against the sides of your chest, your hands will be more stable while snapping a photo. When your elbows are out while taking a photo, it is referred to as Chicken Wings. And it isn't stable (but, dammit, I still do it sometimes).

Enjoy your iPhone 4! I have one, and I've been blown away by what that tiny camera can do. It has replaced my point & shoot completely.
posted by 2oh1 at 3:54 PM on July 21, 2010

Yeah, starman's string tripod is good cheap pocket magic!

Step on the string, and you've stopped all up/down movement and reduced your left/right movement to a point where the elbow brace suggestion will fix the rest. Hell, if you want to be hardcore or spot an irresistable shot, you could even step on your earbuds.
posted by Sallyfur at 5:37 PM on July 21, 2010

For what it's worth, a very successful nature photographer at a workshop in Santa Fe told me the only difference between a "serious regional talent" (how he described me) and a pro is a good tripod.
posted by Mertonian at 6:40 PM on July 21, 2010

I almost always set my camera against a flat surface before taking a shot, whether it's a doorway, table, pillar, or whatever. Once you start keeping an eye out, you'll find a lot of surfaces to stabilize your shot.
posted by redsparkler at 10:28 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've noticed that there is a bit of a delay with digital cameras between the button press (or release) and when it takes the shot. Wait a second or two after you hear the "shutter" click.
posted by gjc at 3:29 AM on July 22, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions! I'm not going to pick a best answer just yet, since I have to try them all first. There are definitely a few things up there that I haven't tried in the past.
posted by inmediasres at 2:36 PM on July 24, 2010

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