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gently press the shutter release

Gently Press The Shutter Release


The reasons why

Gently press the shutter release is a mantra every photographer should adopt. The act of gently pressing the shutter release is the alchemy that fixes your picture message in time forever. Camera shake has the power to ruin an otherwise great shot, like poor focus accuracy it has pre-potency. Pre-potency is the power to devalue all the following picture making stages.

The word “Gently” may also mean:

  •        Mildly
  •        Moderately
  •        Lightly
  •        Softly
  •        Slightly
gently press the shutter release
How to hold your camera properly before gently pressing the shutter

The main issue is stability and balance – here are a few tried and tested methods of keeping your camera steady.

1 Strike a pose

The way you hold your camera and stand have a lot to do with how steady you are. Stand with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart. Keeping your elbows close to your body will reduce camera-shake. Place one hand under your lens and use the other to brace the camera. Keep the camera close to your face, which means using the viewfinder, not the LCD. Don’t hold your breath that will just make it worse, instead, breathe deeply, as you exhale take the shot.


2 Get support

Lean your camera or yourself against something steady like a tree or lamp post.


3 Crouch, sit or lay down

You can brace your elbows on your knees from these positions, which can be a great help in keeping your camera steady. You can also try lying down on your stomach, and prop your elbows on the ground. Only to be recommended if you have the ability to get up again!

gently press the shutter release
Hot Hint
Don’t be caught out again by not knowing what shake free shutter speed you are capable of consistently hand-holding.
Gently press the shutter release.
Gently press the shutter release
Skill Embedding Exercise
The “how slow can you go” camera-shake Test

How slow can you go by gently pressing the shutter release?

gently press the shutter release

1 Take a reference shot with your camera on a tripod of the scene selected (with the image stabilisation turned off).

2 Take the camera off the tripod, Turn on Image Stabilisation.

3 Select Shutter Speed priority.

4 Choose a fixed low ISO.

5 Choose the longest focal length if you are using a zoom lens say 200 mm.

6 Choose a subject to focus on with fine detail.

7 Make the first handheld exposure at 1/ focal length of the lens in this example a 1/250.


gently press the shutter release

Example pictures of hand-held slow shutters speeds down to 1/10 Sec

gently press the shutter release
gently press the shutter release

8 Make a series of shots decreasing the shutter speed 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8 – gently pressing the shutter release.

9 Import the pictures into Lightroom.

10 Use the library Compare Mode by selecting the shot taken on a tripod and the first exposure of 1/250 hit C on the keyboard to enter the compare mode and zoom into 100%.

11 Now look at the fine detail in the picture – is it crisp and sharp?

12 Go through this review process using the tripod shot as the point of reference with each pair.

13 At what shutter speed does image sharpness become unacceptable?

14 Repeat the test process for the wide-angle end of the zoom – again gently pressing the shutter release.

This article is based on the first section of Chapter 12 of “The ABC of CameraWork Manual – how to see photographically” by Andy Beel


For more information about the ABC of CameraWork Manual click on the book cover opposite

gently press the shutter release
ABC of CameraWork Core Content




Understanding the reason for taking a picture and sharing it with a viewer




Any picture will either sing or sag depending on the effectiveness of the background




“Composition is the art of leaving things out”

Andy Beel FRPS


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Optimum exposure allows a variety of post-processing workflows to be used




Accurate focusing is vital to communicate a strong visual message to the viewer