NC Photography Places Project Research by Emma Richford

How to Reduce Camera Shake.

Tripods- Using a solid Stable Tripod will reduce camera shake. The heavier the tripod & the thicker the tripod legs the more stable the camera will be. Tripods have a maximum support weight so if your camera equipment is heavier (ie telescopic lens) you should use a tripod made to take the weight. Tripods come made in 3 materials, the traditional aluminium (left) Basalt (middle) and carbon fibre (right). Though the Aluminium is heavier it is the most stable, but if you are not using heavy camera equipment it is a little extreme, they also have issues like metal expansion in heat and sticking to your hands in extreme cold. The Basalt tripods are a recent addition they are cheap but are not as stable. Carbon fibre tripods are more stable than Basalt tripods but not as stable as aluminium tripods, at head height they are more unstable but have greater stability if not extended to the full height, the closer to the ground the more stable, they are lighter than aluminium tripods. The centre column in tripods can cause more instability if they are raised. Which ever tripod you use, you can always increase its stability by weighting it down, especially useful in windy conditions.

Other factors in reducing Camera shake are;

Camera Strap- Especially in windy conditions the strap can blow about causing camera shake, its best to secure it or remove it.

Hands- Simple touching the camera can cause camera shake, using a timer on your camera will solve this.

Image Stabilization- When using a tripod this function can actually cause camera shake, it is always best to switch off stabilization which can be found on the lens as a sliding switch.

Mirror-Up Motion- The Mirror which allows you to see an image correctly through your lens needs to move up before the shutter can open to take the picture, this motion can cause camera shake. You can reduce this by using the Mirror up setting in your camera, or in some cameras there is a delayed exposure setting, or using the timer on your camera.

Longer focal lengths are affected more by camera shake, as to are Slower shutter speeds. Where ever possible use the shortest focal length & faster shutter speed.

Built in Camera Flash

Before using the built in flash it is important to remember that its range is between 2 - 12 feet, when taking portraits the flash will create shadows, if there is a wall behind your subject bring them further away from it.

Use the Flash Compensation settings on your camera to get the best flash exposure and reduce glare.

Your flash is not just for night shots, you can use it as a fill flash with other light sources including daylight, which will fill in the shadow areas, especially in harsh sunlight where there are strong shadows. Built in flash can also bring life to the eyes creating a lovely catch light. The built in flash is also great for back lit portraits and images.

When taking long exposures Portraits your flash can be used to freeze a person to prevent motion blur by using rear curtain flash or front curtain flash, whist still catching light trails or other effects from slow shutter speeds. Rear curtain flash can create some interesting motion movement whilst freezing the final movement.

One of the biggest disadvantages of a built in flash is the harsh light it produces. The smaller the area from which the light originates from the harsher the light, and because the flash is designed to fit neatly into your camera it is one of the harshest light sources you can come across. But you can also get diffusers for your built in flash, in varying styles and colours to create different affects, you can also bounce your flash either using a bit of white card or you can buy them to fit onto your camera which diffuses the light.

Continuous Light Sources

Continuous light Sources are simply sources of light that stay on as oppose to the various "flash lighting"

With in the indoor setting you have what is known as hot lights and cold lights.

For years, photographers have used photoflood, tungsten, quartz, and all kinds of continuous light sources that fall under the general heading of “hot lights.” These light sources have many advantages over flash: They can be inexpensive; they let you see the light as captured, allowing you to use your camera’s in-camera meter; and they are generally smaller and lighter than electronic flash units.

On the downside, working with hot lights often creates problems because of their colour temperature which needs to be compensated with your camera white balance settings.

But now "Cold lights" have come along way, those horrible fluorescent lighting that use to give a green tinge to photography have been improved. We now have daylight-balanced fluorescents which are a perfect light source for digital Photography and produces far less heat than "hot lights"

But Continuous lighting can be any source of light that's continuous, from a lit building, hand held torches to the light trails created with slow shutter speeds.

Painting with Light

Light painting, or light drawing, is a photographic technique in which exposures are made by moving a hand-held light source while taking a long exposure photograph, either to illuminate a subject or to shine a point of light directly at the camera, or by moving the camera itself during exposure The technique is used for both scientific and artistic purposes, as well as in commercial photography.

When lighting a subject using Painting with light you need your camera set to a long exposure of 30 seconds. The only thing that should be in the image when you first press the shutter is what you want to show up in the image. You then go in to the shot lighting your desired subject ensuring the light is pointing away from the camera so you don't light yourself and show up in the shot, you also have to keep moving as if you stop for more than two seconds you'll show up as a ghost in the image. You have to keep the light moving holding it for too long in one area could cause bright spot and harsh lines. The closer you get to the subject with your light the more abstract your subject will look.

Here is an example of a before and after light painting. Below is a link to the photographers website.


Reflectors are ideal for filling in shadows and expanding your light source, they also add a nice catch light in the eyes bringing a portrait to life and they can be used to bounce some backlight into an image.

They come in three main colours.

Silver can increase highlights and yield a high-contrast image. Great for black and white photography.

Gold produces a natural, golden warm fill that is great for sunsets or indoor portraits.

White produces an even, neutral-coloured bounce light that works beautifully as a fill light source.

Here you can see on the left the without and on the right the with reflector image. Below is a link to the website.


A flag is a device used in lighting mostly for still photography to block light. It can be used to cast a shadow, provide negative fill, or protect the lens from a flare.

Here you can see how a photographer has demonstrated with a series of images the effect flags can have on your image.

Below is the link to the photographers website


Diffusers spread and scatter light to create a much "softer light" this is particularly useful in portraiture as harsh lighting and harsh shadows can be quite unflattering. It is simply a bit of translucent material that you put between the light source and your subject.

But also in natural lighting conditions where the sunlight is too bright. Below you can see the before an after image a photographer took to demonstrate this.

Below is the link to the photographers website
  • Disclaimer; With the acception of the watermarked header image, all images are not my own and were obtained as examples on image searches or websites, links to photographers are included where ever possible.
Created By
Amethyst El


Created with images by darkday. - "Spark Pipe" • ballance5702 - "Light Painting at Myra's 18" • tunaolger - "light coloring phone light" • By_Jo - "radio steel wool swirl" • Marius Brede - "untitled image" • fotograf_akusma - "violin music painting with light" • Raventhorne - "wine bottle flames" • dilanranjith - "sparkler fireworks light paint"

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