Cable Release

Stop pressing the Button

Whenever you press the shitter release button on your camera you introduce an element of camera shake. It can’t be helped. At faster shutter speeds (or under bright light conditions) this camera shake is not a factor and will have no effect of the image you take. But at lower speeds or in darker environments then this slight shaking will result in a slight blurring. This increases as the speed reduces still further.

Camera “shake” technology gets better all the time. In the latest cameras and smart phones it’s at the point where the images are just that good. But ultimately we want to aid the process of taking great pin-sharp images and not rely the technology, no matter how good it is.

Mechanical cable release for SLR
Mechanical cable release for SLR

As well as a tripod, you should consider a camera release mechanism. These come as either cable types or remotes. And they can also be used on some of the newer smart phones.

Cables

These are just thin cables that screw into the camera’s shutter release button. They’re normally around 12 inches long (30cm), although you can get longer ones if required. You hold the other end between the index finger and middle finger and press the button, on the end, with your thumb.

button cable release for SLR
button cable release for SLR

Because the cable is flexible and shake your thumb introduces into pressing the button is dampened within the cable and not transferred to the camera. The result is a perfect crisp shot.

Remotes

remote release for SLR
remote release for SLR

These consist of two parts. The remote, which has the shutter release button and a small receiver, that attaches to the camera. This approach uses either radio or the more common infra-red to link the remote to the receiver.

The remote is my preference because they allow you to be away from the camera and your completely isolated from it. It allows you to change arrangements of objects and retake the shot without going backwards and forwards to the camera.

Mobiles

There are ways to connect your cell phone to your camera. It’s called tethering. Normally this is specific software produced by your camera manufacturer and it allows you to control all the cameras functions from your phone or tablet.

Click here for more in details on how to use one

Low Light Photography

The world of photography has moved so much since the dawn of digital. The flexibility, in camera adjustments and the ability to see the image taken, immediately – are immense.

The Aperture Shutter Relationship

Aperture and shutter relationship are (1) both optical and (2) interdependent. They both control the amount of light that gets to the cameras sensor. There is a ideal setting where the light hitting the sensor is at its optimum, let’s call it 1-to-1. then if you increase one of the settings to 2, you have to compensate by decreasing the other setting by half so we get 2-to-1/2.

Changing the combination controls depth of field (see this article) or shutter speed (see this article)

In a dark, low light environment, we change both the aperture and shutter speed to allow more light in so that the image is usable. But there are limits to this and compromises to be made. Increasing the shutter speed to much introduces camera shake. Whereas increasing aperture reduces depth of field. But in the digit photography world we have a third control, described next.

Digital photography also brought a new control to us, the ISO setting. Originally, in the old film world, the ISO (also referred to as the ASA number) represented the speed of the film. You put the film in the camera and set it’s ASA number to the value on the film canister. But not anymore.

The ISO number has become a third control, that you can alter between shots. It acts like the gain control in an amplifier. The best way to describe this control is like the volume control on an AM radio.

Obviously the volume control makes the sound (or noise if my teenagers have tuned the radio) louder or softer. But sometimes, when the AM signal is weak, you have to increase the volume much more for normally listening and that introduces NOISE.

Noise works the same way when you dial in a higher ISO number on your camera (because of low light). The light source is low and so you compensate by increasing the cameras sensitivity but as you do this the image quality suffers and will look more and more grainy as the ISO goes up.

Low Light tips

Software to the rescue

This is the only control on the camera where optics aren’t used, it’s purely electronic and because of this computer algorithms are used to compensate for the high gain (high ISO) in the image. As the years have gone by so the algorithms have evolved and the images are getting better and better in low light and at night.

Long Telephoto Lenses

The Issues with long telephoto lenses

Long 500 to 1000mm lens

Well first there’s the size. Lenses in the 300mm range and above tend to be big and heavy. As designers try to make the lenses faster ( bigger aperture) to let in more light so the size and weight of the lens increases, exponentially heavier as the auto focus mechanism gets bigger to handle the bigger elements inside the lens.

But more light allows shorter depth of field shots but more importantly faster shutter speeds. It’s a trade-off between the final result of the image and the size/portability of the lens.

Such lenses need a good support, there’s just no way to get a steady shot at anything but the highest shutter speeds. A good sturdy tripod is a must, a monopod can act as alternative.

Monopods are great for being able to manoeuvre your camera (and big lens) quickly. And they’re a good compromise between stability and portability. And more important is they help you get the shot, especially in fast moving action settings, such as sports venues.

But tripods, (make sure it’s adequate enough for your biggest, heaviest lens) along with a cable release will produce the best image that the camera/lens combination are capable of. But in these situations your somewhat anticipating the shot, where the action might be. So, as with everything in life, there’s a compromise. a trade-off between rock solid and pin sharp images –to – portability and getting a shot, any shot. As long as shot has the essence of what you require within the physical constraints of the physics.

More tips for using a long Lens