While I was over in Europe, went out at the edge of darkness to do some shooting, and I learned something. (This is just me catching up, really. I’m sure lots of folks already use this technique.)
When confronted with dicey shutter speeds without a tripod handy, my traditional approach is to hold steady, obviously, and also find something to brace on. (My tripod was where it usually is, back at the hotel room.) For the above I rested my elbows on a railing. Then I went to continuous high on the drive, settled in, and started bursting the camera. Hits and misses, as always, but sheer volume dictated I would have a reasonable number of sharp images.
My wife Annie, who’s got a terrific eye, was right next to me, shooting quite a bit slower. She counseled me that I should go to a feature called mirror lock up, available on lots of camera models. (In Nikons it’s up on the ring where you dial in your shooting mode, labeled Mup.) In this mode, the mirror swings up and out of the way, and the shutter opening is not immediate, as in normal operation. There is a lag between the mirror bouncing upwards (which can be the cause of vibration within the camera, and loss of sharpness as a result) and the actual picture being taken.
Now, this was news to me, as I’m sure it is not to most folks. But, seeing as we’re heading into 2012 and I’m still working on my first rough draft of the nineties, it comes as no surprise.
It’s one of those bells and whistles features I generally overlook, mostly because I still use the cameras, as fancy as they are, about the way a blacksmith uses a hammer and an anvil. But, it was cool. I started shooting in that mode, while Annie started humming the theme from Space Odyssey. (Joe make discovery!)
Looking at our respective takes later, her results were consistently sharper than mine. So it was a good outing, and I learned something. A walk with Annie, camera in hand, beautiful sunset, and I learned something? Christmas came early.