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Shaky photos? You're holding your smartphone wrong. Try this

Here's how to hold your phone to get the steadiest shots possible.
The constellation Orion over Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

The constellation Orion over Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

I'm amazed just how good modern smartphone are at taking photos in low light. I remember when capturing stars required a big camera, a tripod, and a lot of patience. 

Now I can do that with a smartphone.

The above is a handheld shot taken in Snowdonia, North Wales, UK.

Here's another of a roundhouse, again taken in North Wales.

The constellation Pegasus over a roundhouse in North Wales, UK

The constellation Pegasus over a roundhouse in North Wales, UK

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

How do you hold your smartphone to take photos? If you're like the majority, it's something like this, pinched between index finger and thumb on one hand, and middle finger and thumb on the other.

Not a very stable way to hold a smartphone

Not a very stable way to hold a smartphone

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

This isn't the best ways to hold a smartphone. Not only does it translate any finger tremors to the smartphone, but it's also not that stable, and I've lost count of the number of people I've seen drop their phones holding it like this, especially if there's a little wind.

You can get away with this in good conditions, but in low light or in windy conditions, you'll get a lot of ruined photos.

There's a better way.

This way.

A better way

A better way

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Here's what this looks like from the front:

Here's what it looks like from the front

Here's what it looks like from the front

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Here I'm using my thumb on the volume button to trigger the shutter button, rather than tapping the screen.

This is a far more stable, secure way to hold a smartphone. It takes a little bit of reprogramming the muscle memory to pull it off smoothly, but after a little practice you'll have it figured out.

This hand position is not only good for low light photos, but also for windy conditions. 

It also works for shooting vertically.

Sand drifting in high winds, Talacre Lighthouse, North Wales, UK

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

A few more tips for steadier shots:

  • Keep your elbows tucked in to the side of your body as much as possible.
  • Brace yourself legs or hips (not abdomen, chest, or back -- those body parts move as your breath) against something that doesn't move.
  • Take a deep breath before pressing the shutter, and start exhaling slowly as you squeeze the shutter.

However, for the best possible results, nothing beats a smartphone clamp attached to a tripod or a clamp, especially if you want to take rock-steady video. 

Have fun!

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