The #1 piece of advice I give my students for getting a beautiful fluid stabilized video recording (no shakey parts) is to use a quality tripod with a quality tripod head. But there are times when you find yourself either without a tripod or not allowed to use one (like in a museum or highly trafficked area). Luckily, even though we only have two legs, there are some very simple things we can do to use our body as a tripod.
Here are 5 ways to use your body to help improve the stability of your video capture.
1. Make your Body a Tripod (DUH!)
There’s a reason photographers spend so much money on tripods… they help give you a stable shot and minimize blur! However, for handheld shots you can use your body as a tripod. Simply spread your legs apart wide to provide stability and bend your knees a little. By spreading your legs apart wider than your normal stance (instead of standing with your feet close together which makes your whole body prone to wobbling) you give yourself a stronger more fortified base. By bending your knees slightly, you give yourself some built-in shock absorbtion.
2. Lock your Elbows into your Body
Keeping your arms as tight into your body as possible also works for stability. Then, by bracing your camera against your shoulder and using the viewfinder also helps with stabilization. The further the camera is away from your center of gravity (upper body) the harder it is to keep steady.
3. Use your Shoulder Strap
If you are primarily focusing by looking at your LCD shorten your shoulder strap to use it as a short but strong contact point (like a tripod).
Then put the strap around your neck and hold the camera with both thumbs placed underneath while tucking in your elbows. This way, when you’re using shorter lenses (or older manual lenses with large focus rings), you can support the camera with your thumbs while focusing with your ring and middle fingers. Again, using your whole body (this time with a shoulder strap around your neck) as a stable base.
4. Get Down on One Knee
We’ve all got different body types and different ailments, but if your body allows for it, get down on one knee. Then, place your elbow supporting your camera on your raised knee and use it as a mini-tripod. Not only will it allow you to anchor and stabilize your shot, but you’ll also have a pretty good pivot point to track any action you may be shooting.
5. Brace Yourself!
Find something to brace your body against (tree, wall, counter, etc). The more body weight you place on the object while leaning, the better. This really helps stabilize your recording.