Camera Support Tips for Sharp and Clear Photography

At one point or another all of us have probably heard something to the effect that using a tripod is the best way of getting clear, sharp photos. While this may be true, many of us get intimidated by the idea of dragging around a 10 pound accessory. This is especially true if you are talking about nature photography and you may be hiking several miles to get to your destination.

"Flying Bob's" captured by Gautham Narayan

“Flying Bob’s” by Gautham Narayan

The whole point of using a tripod is to offer your camera extra support. Some people hold their camera in their hands with their elbows out to the side. This offers absolutely no support and is the reason why a surprising number of otherwise decent photos end up in the “Oops, that didn’t turn out like I expected” pile.

Even if you do nothing else, tuck your arms in tightly to your chest. Note, I did NOT say to your side. Use your arms to form your own tripod. From camera, to arms, to body you should be forming a V to support your camera most of the time.

Learn how and when to breathe. If you happen to be hiking or climbing in an area that is really steep and you are running short of breath that is NOT a good time to take a photo. Learn from hunters who have been doing this for a long time. Visualize your subject, inhale, hold your breath, slowly press the shutter button, then slowly exhale.

"Rowes' Wharf at Night" captured by Gautham Narayan

“Rowes’ Wharf at Night” by Gautham Narayan

When walking, try a monopod for extra support. A monopod (for obvious reasons) is usually a third the weight of a tripod. A monopod allows you to brace your camera against a solid surface. In fact, when used as a walking stick, it also allows you to brace yourself against a solid surface.

Use a bean bag for extra support. Many people try to use a branch, rock, or even the hood of a car for extra support. The problem with that is, in most cases the surface is still not flat, and so your camera may rock or shift while taking the photo. A bean bag just slightly bigger than your camera body will help mold the camera to the surface you are trying to lean against.

Use some string for extra support. This is mainly used for cameras with big lenses. Tie one end of the string around the toe of your shoe and the other around the lens of the camera. With your arms tucked in as mentioned in the first photo tip, pull up slightly. As long as there is tension on the string, you KNOW you are not shaking the camera.

Photo captured by Stuart May

photo by Stuart May

Or, use a tripod anyway. You don’t have to use a tripod that will support a big 4×5 camera with a bellows. Light weight tripods are available at very reasonable prices. Sometimes, photographers avoid these because they are too light weight and may become unstable in the wind. The solution is simple: take your string and tie a rock to the middle column of your tripod, or use your camera bag to weight it down. This has the same effect as using a heavier duty tripod, plus it weighs less and costs less to begin with.

Instead of singing, “Oops, I did it again” when it comes to your blurry photos, use these photo tips to start singing “We will ROCK you” about your award winning photographs.

About the Author
Award winning writer/photographer Tedric Garrison has 30 years experience in photography ( As a graphic art major, he has a unique perspective. His photo eBook “Your Creative Edge” proves creativity can be taught. Today, he shares his wealth of knowledge with the world through his website.

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3 responses to “Camera Support Tips for Sharp and Clear Photography”

  1. Julie says:

    I have a tremor in my left (supporting) hand. I find that using my breath helps a lot but what I do is hold my breath for just a second or two and press the shutter release while I’m breathing out – if possible best if I hum a bit. Holding my breath seems to accentuate my heart beat and tremor and a slow breath out using some of my muscles to make a sound seems to steady it. Just thought I’d share. I always forget the string trick – I’m going to try it tomorrow.

  2. Mark says:

    “other wise descent photos”???


    How many mistakes can you make in one sentence?

    The more expensive tripods are much lighter and very easy to carry.

  3. Julia says:

    I agree with Julie. Better to take a breath, exhale gently and the press shutter. Body is not then tensed.

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