Stabilizing Handheld Panoramic Shots

When it comes to panoramic photography, a tripod is your friend.  A stable platform, precise measurement for rotation, and a bubble level.  Of course there’ll be times when you’ve left it in the car or aren’t even allowed to use it on a shoot.  That’s okay, a little bit of body work can go a long way.

Handheld Techniques

If you have to shoot your panoramic images without a tripod, you’ll need to adjust your handheld shooting technique.

Try wrapping the camera strap around your elbow.  This allows you to place tension on the strap so it is taut. The tension is a useful way to constrain the camera movement and make it more an extension of your body.

  1. Hold the camera in front of your body so its strap hangs downward.
  2. Slip your arm through the strap so it goes just past your elbow.
  3. Wrap your hand around the outside edge of the strap and grab the camera body.
  4. Press your elbow into the strap to increase tension on the strap and stabilize the camera.

An alternative approach is to twist the strap once and wrap it around your shoulder blade.

Creating the Pan

To pan the camera smoothly, you’ll need to properly position your body.

  1. Square your body up with your subject.
  2. Spread your feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Rotate at the waist and twist body while keeping your shoulders and camera in close to your body.

This post sponsored by Adorama – More than a camera store


About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus as well as an author on Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.

Posted on June 17, 2011, in Gear, Panoramic and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. If it’s a small room, or there are near and far objects. Holding the camera and pivoting at the waist creates parallac errors that can’t be fixed with software. (the bush in the foreground in one shot is gone in the next).

    Better would be to pivot the camera in your hand- replicating the ideal of pivoting the camera around the center point as closely as possible.

  2. Richard Harrington

    Just depends how much you are turning. The top figure set has the camera close to the body. The bottom figure is just an alternative.

    Like I said, tripod is always best…. but Photoshop’s merge commands have gotten pretty forgiving. In know way is handheld shooting best practices… but it is a reality for many.

  1. Pingback: Daily Digest For Wednesday, June 22, 2011 | Henry's Photo Club