BASIC PHOTOGRAPHIC TECHNIQUES
Today, photography is characterized by a rapid
growth in the development of technology and ideas.
Each year, millions of pictures are taken and an
astonishing array of new films, cameras and imaging
systems enter the market.
One of the great attractions of the photography
field is the ease with which basic skills can be learned.
Unlike some of the older arts that take years of
training to produce an acceptable product, anyone can
quickly learn how to take a picture; however,
photographic techniques must be mastered before you
can become an accomplished photographer;
therefore, mastery of the basic fundamentals is the
foundation upon which you will build your
photographic and professional skills as a Navy
Photographers Mate. The photographic techniques
presented in this chapter are essential in producing
quality photographs, and you can apply each of these
fundamentals, to some extent, each time you take a
KEEPING THE CAMERA STEADY
Many photographs have been ruined because of
camera movement. Unless you want a blurred
picture, keeping your camera steady when shooting
is crucial. The longer the exposure or focal-length
lens you use, the more crucial holding your camera
steady becomes; therefore, there are many instances
when the use of a tripod or some other type of camera
support is necessary.
The following section provides general guidelines
for the various methods used to support a camera to
ensure quality results. These are not necessarily the
only or even the best ways to support a camera. You
should practice supporting your camera using various
methods; then select those that are most appropriate
for the situation and the subject being photographed.
Practice should include all the camera functions you
normally use on actual photographic assignments.
Concentrate on composing through the viewfinder,
focusing, selecting shutter speeds and f/stops, holding
the flash off the camera, depressing the shutter release,
and winding the film.
HANDHOLDING THE CAMERA
Of the various methods to keep your camera
steady, the best is to use a tripod, but often you may
not have one with you or the situation makes the use
of a tripod impossible. In these situations, if you use
proper precautions, it is possible to take high-quality
pictures using hand-held methods.
Under normal circumstances, you should not
handhold your camera at shutter speeds longer than
about 1/60 second. When a long lens is used, this
becomes even more critical, because the images
produced by long lenses are affected more by camera
movement. Also, it is more difficult to control the
weight and greater size of a long lens when it is
hand-held. As a general rule, the slowest
recommended shutter speed is the reciprocal of the
focal length of the lens; for example, when you are
using a 500mm lens, the slowest shutter speed you
should use is 1/500 second. When handholding your
camera, be sure to have a good, solid, but not tense
grip on the camera. Use your whole body as a firm
support. Your elbows should be close to your body and
your feet spread apart to provide good balance. In this
position your body is acting as a tripod. When
possible, you should try steadying yourself by leaning
against something solid like a wall, tree, or post.
When using an eye-level camera, press the camera
against your forehead and face. A waist-level camera
should be pulled solidly against your body. Just before
releasing the shutter, take a deep breath, let out part
of the air-hold the rest, and squeeze the shutter release
as if firing a gun.
When nothing is available to support your camera
other than yourself, try sitting down, squatting, or
kneeling, and firmly rest your elbows on one or both
knees. When you are taking low-angle photographs,
lying on the ground with the camera in front of you is
another simple way to keep the camera reasonably