In a previous article, I talked about how camera shake is your enemy in shooting photos at night. The reason being that camera shake introduces out of focus blurring that will mess up ANY long exposure shooting – not just at night.
The blurring may not be noticeable in smaller prints, but if you want something for the wall – you may find that shot you were so proud of isn’t any good at all!
In the first “anti-camera shake” tip I said you would need a tripod and that you should shoot with a timed shutter release or use a bulb. In this way you don’t introduce shake by depressing the shutter button.
Now for one last camera shake removal technique – most of the higher quality DSLR’s and SLR’s have a feature called the “mirror lockup”.
This is another photo tip that very few of us use, but it can make a big difference.
If you didn’t know, here is how it works… When you are looking through the viewfinder you are not looking directly through the lens. You are looking at a mirrored reflection. Actually it’s two reflections. It’s these reflections that turn over the image and let us see it the way it is… not upside down.
Light goes in through the lens, hits a mirror at 45 degrees, then bounces up into the viewfinder and off another prism surface and out into your eye.
That first 45 degree mirror is actually in front of the shutter and has to be lifted out of the way when the shutter is opened to let in light. The lifting and dropping of the mirror is that clicking sound you hear when you depress the shutter button.
That lifting motion causes camera shake. Admittedly it’s not very much, but enough to introduce blur.
When you are all set to take your tripod mounted, timed release, long exposure shot… lock up the mirror. This does exactly what it sounds like it does; it lifts the mirror, and locks it in place so there is no movement when the shot is taken.
BTW – After you lock up the mirror, give it a few seconds to let the camera settle before you shoot. There will be minor vibrations for a little while.
Don’t know if your camera has this feature? Check the manual! You shouldn’t have ANY buttons, switches or knobs on your camera that you don’t understand! They are all there for a reason.
If you want really good long exposure photographs – use a tripod, trip the shutter with a timed exposure and lock up the mirror. Then, as long as you don’t trip over the tripod, you will have amazing night time photography