The sniper

Even with OIS, shooting a long exposure is a challenging exercise. A traditional DSLR or an ultra-zoom prosumer digicam always include a viewfinder (VF). Using the VF basically anchor the camera to your face & reduces camera movement caused by your hand & body swaying, just like a sniper who anchor the butt of the rifle to the cheek.

Unfortunately, this isn’t possible on a camera phone. So the next best thing is to bend your hands, tuck in your elbow so you don’t look like a chicken, and bring the camera phone as close to your face as possible. This reduces arm movement. Next, set your legs apart so you look like an ‘A’ from the front. Remember when using this stance, your body should feel relaxed. If you feel any muscle strain, readjust your position.

The next important step is learning how to breathe. After your body has relaxed, inhale & exhale a few times, then empty your lungs halfway or more. If you can feel your heartbeat throughout your body, you’ve done the breathing exercise correctly.

When fully relaxed, you can feel your heartbeat affecting your arm movement & you can see the effect it has on your screen. It’ll be up & down with some slight sideways movement.

To minimise this up & down movement, capture the photo when your heartbeat comes because the upwards movement is slower than the downwards movement when the blood leaves your hands & gravity pulls your hands down.

If you notice sideways movement, try stepping your left leg forward or backward to see which position counters the sideway motion.

With this exercise, you should easily be able to use a shutter speed of 0.5s with no blur. If you master the technique, you can go up to 1s if you’re able to slow your heartbeat to 60bpm.

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