Long exposure hand holding techniques

Started 9 months ago | Discussions
tt321
tt321 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,933
Long exposure hand holding techniques
1

With IS improving fast, people have been reporting reliable multiple second hand held exposures. I wonder what kind of holding techniques they use.

When it approaches 1 second, my holding technique is completely gone. Investigations have shown that it is because I tend to perform larger and larger hand movements when I cannot see an image to aim. Then the aim wanders off far enough to saturate the IS.

I have had over 150mm FL shots taken at 1/5s to reasonable satisfaction. But 7.5mm past a second? No way. The tele improvements are multiple stops superior to the WA improvements, mostly because absolute time approaching 1s is no-no whatever the FL.

How do you keep the aim true for a long time without visual feedback?

GeorgianBay1939
GeorgianBay1939 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,044
Re: Long exposure hand holding techniques
4

tt321 wrote:

With IS improving fast, people have been reporting reliable multiple second hand held exposures. I wonder what kind of holding techniques they use.

When it approaches 1 second, my holding technique is completely gone. Investigations have shown that it is because I tend to perform larger and larger hand movements when I cannot see an image to aim. Then the aim wanders off far enough to saturate the IS.

I have had over 150mm FL shots taken at 1/5s to reasonable satisfaction. But 7.5mm past a second? No way. The tele improvements are multiple stops superior to the WA improvements, mostly because absolute time approaching 1s is no-no whatever the FL.

How do you keep the aim true for a long time without visual feedback?

Good subject!

I am not into the hand-held multiple second regime but I've tried exposures around 1 second on moonlit nights to capture "sparkles" in snow.

Although this is one of my better ones, it is not good enough to print, except on the obverse of a business card!  In this case I propped my elbow on the vehicle's window sill.

Go full size to see (blurry) sparkles of moonlight reflecting off of individual snow crystals.

I also cheat by using a walking staff with a loop in it when I am out for a walk in summer or the loop in my ski pole (summer and winter).  (I suppose I could carry my monopod and use the handgrip like a cane as a walking aid. But its too heavy.)

My lack of mobility has necessitated walking aids which double as photo aids.  By far, my most used aid is the sill of my vehicle's window, acting as a support for either my elbow or my hand.  I have tried window clamps with little success.

So I hope that we'll hear some really creative approaches on this thread.

Thanks you for starting the conversation.

-- hide signature --

Tom
The best part of growing old is having the opportunity to do so.
https://brtthome.com/

 GeorgianBay1939's gear list:GeorgianBay1939's gear list
Panasonic FZ1000 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH +10 more
richarddd
richarddd Veteran Member • Posts: 3,101
Re: Long exposure hand holding techniques
3

An alternative to holding for a long exposure:  Figure out how long you can hold steady.  Set that shutter speed. Set appropriate aperture for DOF. Use raw. Take a burst such that total exposure time is at least as long as you would have liked. Stack images in photoshop, align, convert to a smart object, average, then brighten.

This won't work well if the reason for a long exposure was to smooth flowing water or similar reasons, but it will reduce noise quite a bit.

 richarddd's gear list:richarddd's gear list
Sony RX100 III Olympus OM-D E-M5 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 R Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8 +4 more
tt321
OP tt321 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,933
Re: Long exposure hand holding techniques

richarddd wrote:

An alternative to holding for a long exposure: Figure out how long you can hold steady. Set that shutter speed. Set appropriate aperture for DOF. Use raw. Take a burst such that total exposure time is at least as long as you would have liked. Stack images in photoshop, align, convert to a smart object, average, then brighten.

This won't work well if the reason for a long exposure was to smooth flowing water or similar reasons, but it will reduce noise quite a bit.

Yes. This works to reduce noise, and makes for some interesting motion blur effects if the alignment can succeed.

However, the figuring out how long you can hold steady part is what I'm interested in. With people claiming that they can get 8-sec or more hand-holding to work under today's best IS, I wonder how they maintain the aim during multi-second blind periods.

Adrian Harris
Adrian Harris Veteran Member • Posts: 4,834
Re: Long exposure hand holding techniques
3

tt321 wrote:

With IS improving fast, people have been reporting reliable multiple second hand held exposures. I wonder what kind of holding techniques they use.

When it approaches 1 second, my holding technique is completely gone. Investigations have shown that it is because I tend to perform larger and larger hand movements when I cannot see an image to aim. Then the aim wanders off far enough to saturate the IS.

I have had over 150mm FL shots taken at 1/5s to reasonable satisfaction. But 7.5mm past a second? No way. The tele improvements are multiple stops superior to the WA improvements, mostly because absolute time approaching 1s is no-no whatever the FL.

How do you keep the aim true for a long time without visual feedback?

The image below was taken handheld with an EM1-Mk2 and an Olympus 9-18 lens.

I was meant to take a night shot of this area on a specific day for a challenge, unfortunately it was not only cold and bleak there was constant swirling misty drizzle to trying to keep rail of the lens front element was almost impossible - hence I really wished I wasn't there, didn't feel inspired and as my back was also hurting a lot, not surprisingly I couldn't be bothered to carry a tripod whilst trapsing around the village looking for something to shoot. Then when a long way from the car saw this scene which I thought had some potential. So I thought well here is my chance to try out this 'fabled' Olympus stabilisation - but in truth I now wished I had the tripod with me, but wasn't going back for it (I still just wanted to get on the road home and be warm and dry).

It was so dark I could hardly see this scene but hoped that something would become apparent. I found a wooden post on the jetty to lean on, held the camera firmly in both hands and waited for by breathing and heart rate to calm down (from the walking). Even so to get the exposure as short as this - the Exif says 6 seconds - I had to put the camera on ISO3200. I took about half a dozen shots in the hope that one would be sharp enough to use. As it happened almost all of them were usable, the only real difference being the framing of the image, - It was so dark I couldn't even see the boats I had in the picture until reviewing each shot on the very wet rear screen.

This was my first attempt at handheld long exposures and since then think nothing of taking a 2.5sec exposure with a wide lens. For me the important bit seems to be trying to hold your breath and staying calm and obviously find something to brace yourself against if at all possible.

Lympstone - Handheld - 6 seconds exposure - 16mm (FF34mm)..

PS: The image ended up scoring  highly - which was an unexpected bonus!

-- hide signature --
 Adrian Harris's gear list:Adrian Harris's gear list
Sony RX100 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 Sony SLT-A77 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 +1 more
MacOrneille Regular Member • Posts: 140
Re: Long exposure hand holding techniques

It wouldn't hurt to practice hand-holding binoculars.  You will see all the jitter in real time.

tt321
OP tt321 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,933
Re: Long exposure hand holding techniques

MacOrneille wrote:

It wouldn't hurt to practice hand-holding binoculars. You will see all the jitter in real time.

But binoculars provide feedback so you can work to keep the centre aim true. With cameras, during multi-second exposures, how does the operator maintain aim without feedback (seeing where the lens is aiming at).

tt321
OP tt321 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,933
Re: Long exposure hand holding techniques

Right. So not actually looking through the VF or LCD, just aim at a generally correct direction and keep as still as possible not bothered by the sudden disappearance of VF image. Sounds very reasonable. Must try. Thanks.

21William Regular Member • Posts: 131
Re: Long exposure hand holding techniques
1

Many years ago I was inside Warwick castle and wanted to take a picture with my Canon A1 film camera. The exposure neeeded with my 50mm f1.8 wide open was about 1/8 or maybe 1/16 of a second. I wrapped the camera strap round my head and twisted it effectively clamping the camera against my face and then stood against the nearest wall with my head pressed backwards and the shot came out absolutely fine.

tt321
OP tt321 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,933
Re: Long exposure hand holding techniques

21William wrote:

Many years ago I was inside Warwick castle and wanted to take a picture with my Canon A1 film camera. The exposure neeeded with my 50mm f1.8 wide open was about 1/8 or maybe 1/16 of a second. I wrapped the camera strap round my head and twisted it effectively clamping the camera against my face and then stood against the nearest wall with my head pressed backwards and the shot came out absolutely fine.

Excellent solution. Try it today and get reported for possible terrorist activity

Michael J Davis
Michael J Davis Veteran Member • Posts: 3,484
Re: Long exposure hand holding techniques

tt321 wrote:

With IS improving fast, people have been reporting reliable multiple second hand held exposures. I wonder what kind of holding techniques they use.

When it approaches 1 second, my holding technique is completely gone. Investigations have shown that it is because I tend to perform larger and larger hand movements when I cannot see an image to aim. Then the aim wanders off far enough to saturate the IS.

I have had over 150mm FL shots taken at 1/5s to reasonable satisfaction. But 7.5mm past a second? No way. The tele improvements are multiple stops superior to the WA improvements, mostly because absolute time approaching 1s is no-no whatever the FL.

How do you keep the aim true for a long time without visual feedback?

Visual fedback is the problem, as it generates a feedback loop where one corrects and then overcorrects, thus negating the intention. I often use a monopod, sometimes stuck out sideways to brace it against a wall.

Frankly.my approach is to imagine I'm a rock. Use whatever support is available and avoid thinking about it. Just concentrate on bracing the body using supports, back, elbows, stick, whatever, and DO NOT look through the vf. The more you want to correct, the more you'll think about correcting!

So I just grip the camera use whatever braces are available point in the right direction and fire the shutter.

Worst case scenario is to take your shoelaces tie them together end to end and one to the camera (tripod thread if poss.) and stand on the other end, pull firmly, point and shoot.

But frankly, I'm more likely to avoid handholding - brace the camera and use delayed shutter release. I's the movement firing the shutter that often ruins the shot!

Mike

-- hide signature --

Mike Davis
Photographing the public for over 60 years
www.flickr.com/photos/watchman

 Michael J Davis's gear list:Michael J Davis's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-45mm F3.5-5.6 ASPH OIS Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH +5 more
Peadingle
Peadingle Contributing Member • Posts: 970
Re: Long exposure hand holding techniques

Breathing control is quite important. It is something that you can practise at home.

-- hide signature --

"https://www.flickr.com/photos/6pix/"

 Peadingle's gear list:Peadingle's gear list
Samsung TL500 Canon PowerShot G1 X Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 Panasonic G85
maljo@inreach.com Veteran Member • Posts: 7,590
I can’t get sharp images over 1 second either
1

And I don’t care for high ISO images.  Hence, I use a tripod.

maljo

 maljo@inreach.com's gear list:maljo@inreach.com's gear list
Olympus E-M1 Nikon D500 Nikon D850
Adrian Harris
Adrian Harris Veteran Member • Posts: 4,834
Re: Long exposure hand holding techniques

tt321 wrote:

Right. So not actually looking through the VF or LCD, just aim at a generally correct direction and keep as still as possible not bothered by the sudden disappearance of VF image. Sounds very reasonable. Must try. Thanks.

Ah no it wasn't quite that vague, I could see a couple of the brighter parts of the scene - such as light in the church tower window, but I couldn't see much else, so framing the image was impossible. But I did have the camera held very tightly to my eye/face, as I find having it pressed to my head helps steady it from small wobbles.

If my hands are free holding the camera out in front, they do tend to wobble around a fair bit!

-- hide signature --
 Adrian Harris's gear list:Adrian Harris's gear list
Sony RX100 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 Sony SLT-A77 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 +1 more
Tommi K1 Senior Member • Posts: 5,426
Re: Long exposure hand holding techniques
1

tt321 wrote:

How do you keep the aim true for a long time without visual feedback?

  • Correct stance position, just like when shooting with a weapon.
  • Correct breathing control, just like when shooting with a weapon.
  • Correct shutter release button squeeze, just like when shooting with a weapon.
  • Suitable clothing to support your upperbody, just like when shooting with a weapon.
  • Suitable terrain/soil/platform/weather to stay still, just like when shooting with a weapon.

The only difference really is that camera is lighter, and it doesn't have recoil, but it is as sensitive for motion as a rifle is, but with long exposures it is more challenging to keep still while exposure starting from squeeze, when with weapon stationary time starts before and ends to squeeze.

tt321
OP tt321 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,933
Re: Long exposure hand holding techniques

Adrian Harris wrote:

tt321 wrote:

Right. So not actually looking through the VF or LCD, just aim at a generally correct direction and keep as still as possible not bothered by the sudden disappearance of VF image. Sounds very reasonable. Must try. Thanks.

Ah no it wasn't quite that vague, I could see a couple of the brighter parts of the scene - such as light in the church tower window, but I couldn't see much else, so framing the image was impossible. But I did have the camera held very tightly to my eye/face, as I find having it pressed to my head helps steady it from small wobbles.

If my hands are free holding the camera out in front, they do tend to wobble around a fair bit!

But during the exposure the VF goes black without any visual cues, would that not make it a bit unnerving so you start drifting a bit? This is what I experience.

tt321
OP tt321 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,933
Re: Long exposure hand holding techniques

Peadingle wrote:

Breathing control is quite important. It is something that you can practise at home.

This I do naturally after learning sharpshooting. And it never left me. However, shooting a firearm you also have visual feedback which is not suddenly taken away.

tt321
OP tt321 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,933
Re: Long exposure hand holding techniques

Michael J Davis wrote:

tt321 wrote:

With IS improving fast, people have been reporting reliable multiple second hand held exposures. I wonder what kind of holding techniques they use.

When it approaches 1 second, my holding technique is completely gone. Investigations have shown that it is because I tend to perform larger and larger hand movements when I cannot see an image to aim. Then the aim wanders off far enough to saturate the IS.

I have had over 150mm FL shots taken at 1/5s to reasonable satisfaction. But 7.5mm past a second? No way. The tele improvements are multiple stops superior to the WA improvements, mostly because absolute time approaching 1s is no-no whatever the FL.

How do you keep the aim true for a long time without visual feedback?

Visual fedback is the problem, as it generates a feedback loop where one corrects and then overcorrects, thus negating the intention.

This is so true, for my case. I must practice your method.

cf782 Contributing Member • Posts: 624
I used a sturdy tripod for long exposures...

The IS helps, but it is not as good as on a sturdy tripod, after tried on some product photos taken indoor (1/5 to 1/30 sec). I had to retake some photos with a tripod for those photos previously taken with my PEN-F with IS on, as they were not sharp enough due to camera shake being handheld.

I would use a sturdy tripod for shooting landscape, macros while turning off the IS on bodies or lens.

Thanks, Edward

 cf782's gear list:cf782's gear list
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 Fujifilm X100F Olympus E-1 Olympus E-5 Olympus PEN-F +10 more
cf782 Contributing Member • Posts: 624
Re: I can’t get sharp images over 1 second either

maljo@inreach.com wrote:

And I don’t care for high ISO images. Hence, I use a tripod.

maljo

People spent thousands on fine bodies and lenses, but without a sturdy supporting, it may result in blurry images, that's a big waste.

IMHO, people should pay more attention to camera supporting system to get sharp images rather than relying on IS. IS is helpful when there is no tripod available or a tripod is not allowed to use, but it is not going to replace a sturdy tripod.

Buying a right tripod and head at the beginning saves time and money. I started from $50 or so on a tripod, then replaced it a few times with better models, eventually got my Gitzo G3530S and RRS BH-55 - have wasted too much money on tripods. I hope I had bought my Gitzo G3530S and RRS BH-55 at the beginning.

 cf782's gear list:cf782's gear list
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 Fujifilm X100F Olympus E-1 Olympus E-5 Olympus PEN-F +10 more
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads