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Wednesday, 23 April 2014


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You might consider seeing a neurologist about the possibility of Parkinson's disease. There
are pharmaceuticals which can help. They are
helping me.

Very keen observation Mike, it happens the same to me. When I have a good shot in front of me, and don't have IS I tend to become anxious about the resulting sharpness and my hands shake more than a bit. Since I have my EM5 I get more relaxed, just by knowing that I have the IS. I have been able to shoot up to 2 Sec. exposure and get quite decent sharpness with IS on and lenses up to normal, 50mm equivalent, and I am 62 yo.

Mike: Burst shooting and Shake Reduction in PSCC/CS6 will solve most of the photoyips. I have a student with a tremor and both these techniques help. Of course, there's always the tripod...egad.

No problem here. I have always sucked at holding the camera steady. That's 50+ years. Things can only get better from here.

Yips on the pool table? Does a simple cut shot that you're made dozens of times before sometimes seem impossible? Or miss a very easy side-pocket bank shot?

[Yes, I do struggle with that too. In that case it's partially or all physical, because I have rotator cuff problems in my right shoulder and because, well, I'm not very coordinated. Controlling my right arm is probably the biggest problem with my stroke.

My teacher, tragically, had to give up pool almost entirely because of "essential tremor" (Google it) in his right hand and arm. It doesn't affect his left hand and arm. In his otherwise great teaching video (see http://www.poollessons.com/ ), he had to get his friend Mark Wilson to do the demonstration shots. (Jerry's still a fantastic teacher though.) --Mike]

"I knew as soon as I made the exposures that I'd held every single test shot rock-steady. Sure enough, even the one-second exposures were dead sharp."

You're kidding.

[I'm absolutely not. It was the only time in my life I've ever successfully handheld any speed remotely that slow. Surprised the heck out of me at the time, and I gave up on "handholding tests"! --Mike]

The answer to the problem may well be on your bookshelf already, Mike. You are of an age and a turn of mind which leads me to suspect you have a copy of Eugen Herrigel's Zen in the Art of Archery hidden away somewhere. If you're more in the mood for fiction, re-read Salinger's Seymour, an Introduction.

The cure for the yips is not easy … but it can be effortless.

My own record for a long hand-held shot is something in the nature of 30 seconds with an 80mm lens on an elderly Yashika-Mat TLR with Tri-X film: a photograph of a Christmas light display shot for a small-town weekly newspaper when I was 17 years old. I was wedged against a tree, gloveless at about -30º (Fahrenheit in those days, even in Canada), and the exposure was limited by the length of time I could hold my breath and not shiver. (Hm, it's probably significant that I was focussed completely on my breathing during the exposure, and not on the photograph at all.)

The yips are also a problem with professional tennis players, most notably affecting their serve or service motion. Both Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic have suffered from the yips during serving, and it significantly impacted their results and ranking as a consequence. It does appear to often have a neurological basis, and I've watched science programs that describe it that the neurological connections that create the "muscle memory" of the movement actually breaking down, so that the muscles simply cannot function correctly to produce the movement. This would explain Ben Hogan's "freezing" when trying to put, and he's right, there's virtually nothing he could do about it; his brain would override his cognitive intent.

Regarding the yips inducing motion blur at low shutter speeds, everyone is probably different in this regards, and as you say, some of it might be psychological. Interestingly, when shooting motorsports, all the pros I know actually turn off the lens-based image stabilization because it gets in the way of creating "clean" panning shots. The lens gyros will actually cause the lens to move or bump when "spinning up" during the panning movement.IS is quite useful when shooting handheld at low shutter speed in low available light.

Just a note regarding IS on Fujis: the zoom lenses, the 18-55 and the 55-200, have optical image stabilization built into the lenses, implemented the same as Canon and Nikon do on their lenses. And it works really well. Fuji, like Canikon, probably feel that in-lens IS is of limited value when using short focal length lenses like the 23mm prime you are using. Canon has long held the view that IS works best in implemented in lenses rather than bodies, something that is open to debate, clearly. Seems that Fuji does, too.

IS has made me so relaxed that I've become careless, at least with noncritical snaps at moderate shutter speeds. It shows when I use a camera with no IS.

But for critical stuff at low or moderate shutter speed, I use burst mode whether I have IS or not, sometimes along with a short timer delay. For cameras that have threaded remote sockets, those screw-on shutter extensions seem to help.

Is there a particular type or direction of shake that plagues particular people? I think my most common type of shake (for shutter speeds within reason) involves moving the entire shutter side of the camera downward, as if I'm trying to depress the shutter with my arm, from the elbow or shoulder. It just occurs to me for the first time that this may have something to do with the way I was taught to pluck and strum the guitar.

A note for Dan Montgomery: If you left the engine running when you stopped, and rested either the camera or your hand against the partly open winndow (or elsewhere in the car) the car's vibration may have contributed to your blur. Its surprising how you can get accustomed to normal car vibration and not notice it, but on most cars its definnitely there.

How about prescribing (yourself) the symptom? But seriously! Next time you have to make do with a shutterspeed of 1/30 or longer, really make an effort to shake or tremble. Or you could inquire with musician friends how they deal with stage fright. (But it's a pity this blocks the Fuji-road. Unless you stop disliking zooms - the 18-55mm is a very good lens, I regard it as three primes in one, and has IS.)

Good luck!

Well, if everything else should fail, there's always the photographer's best friend, the tripod.
Yes, yes, I know it's anathema, what with all this high ISO frenzy and everything, but I can't do without my tripod for exposures longer than 1/30. (No, I don't have Parkinson...) I don't feel diminished in any way when I use it. On the contrary, there's no substitute for the tripod when I seek for accurate compositions. It's inconvenient, and it's fiddly to set up, but at the end of the day it is worth all the trouble.

This may sound absurd but try closing your eyes in the second just before you're ready to press the shutter. It has the effect of shutting off a big sensory stream to your brain for just a moment, rather like a slow blink. It has worked for me when shooting fast-moving scenes.

It's a good analogy. I've got a personal experience that's tied to an earlier post on exposure -- it's to do with my 50mm lenses (both summicron-Ms).

After switching from my 35, for a while I was noticing I couldn't handhold reliably at 1/15 or 1/30. I thought that was OK, since the focal length was different. But then I switched to my collapsible 50 and the difference was noticable -- I could handhold slower, maybe half a stop (ignoring technical differences in the qualities of the lens of course).

I still don't know what it was, the 100g lighter lens, the ergonomics of the lens (smaller barrel), but whatever it is I'm much more comfortable on that old 50!

It's almost as if I've switched putter ... only the other way round since I've gone to a vintage blade and it works better!

How about that, eh?


You don't have the yips, you've got stress induced shaking of the same kind that affects people who shoot rifles and bows. You can learn to suppress it (or learn to shoot when you're not doing it.)

The yips are something totally different, and it affects chipping as well as putting. (For those who don't play golf, chipping is a very short-range shot done with with regular clubs, rather than a putter, but with a somewhat putt-like stroke.) My long-time golf partner, who was a PGA teaching pro, came down with the chipping yips (he already had the putting yips) and it was an awful thing to watch. He managed to work his way out of them in a couple of years, but fears their return. He almost quit golf, after a lifetime of playing, because of the chipping yips.

There's been a lot of research on the yips, and some people think there's actually an instant of unconsciousness as you try to make the forward motion; and that when you regain consciousness, you tend to jerk your arms forward, rather than putting smoothly and in control. My friend knew (both with putting and chipping) when he was likely to yip, but couldn't stop it. The yips come basically at the peak of concentration, and result in a large uncontrolled movement. My friend would be lining up a chip, say, fifteen yards from the pin, perhaps five yards off the green, and sometimes would miss the green entirely, as the ball flew over it, or sideways. This would almost always happen when he had a good score going -- say on the twelfth hole, and he was at par or a stroke under. He had missed the green with the approach shot. He would then need a relatively simply chip, and a good putt, to make another par. This is a move he had practiced and played literally thousands of times, and requires no more energy than a soft hand-clap. Instead, he'd knock the ball over the green, or sideways, and for quite some distance. Then, trying to recover, he'd do it again. When he finally got the ball in the hole, instead of scoring a four, as he should have, or a five at the worst, he'd have scored a seven or an eight, and ruined his round.

Some people have said that yips mostly affect people who shoot by feel -- the very best players -- rather than mechanically. They say that if you practice a very mechanical stroke, and attempt to eliminate feel altogether, you can beat the yips. My friend tried that, and it may have helped, although good players have a very hard time trying to play without feel. Also, the yips seem mostly to affect the small muscles of the wrists and forearms, so that with the putting yips, which he also had, he was able to fix it by using a long putter, which takes the hands out of the equation.

With tension related shake, you can learn control techniques to limit the movement. I understand that some Olympic-level rifle shooters try to shoot between heartbeats, to eliminate even that much movement. I shoot a bow, and I've learned that when I'm at the peak of the draw, if I take a short breath and then exhale and then deliberately relax, I can hit what I'm aiming at.

That does not work with yips. The yips are more like the uncontrolled leg kicks you sometimes get at night while dreaming...

You could also try turning your coffee bean roaster down a notch ;-)

Here's a guaranteed cure, and you already have the required gear. Tripod!

One of the biggest reasons I topped out in my "nine-ball career" and was eventually never able to move past those most significant tourneys or matches, was due to a form of the Yips.

After nearly twenty years of struggling with it, I personally believe there is a condition, unique to pool players, that prevents us from playing our best game (or even close to it) at certain times or under certain conditions. It's not (always) just a simple case of cracking under pressure either, as many pool doctors would diagnose it. Even though this particular variant of the yips often does kick in and decimate your talent during important matches, which can by nature be a little tense, there are as many other games, every bit as tense or even more so, where your stroke just sings, and you freewheel your way into the money. So nay to those who would dismiss it as nothing more than inability to display grace under pressure.

There are those players who positively thrive on the high pressure of important matches and seem to posses that enviable trait of becoming increasingly more focused and exacting as the stakes, or their name on the leader board, rise. In the case of players like that it becomes pretty hard to dismiss that sudden, inexplicable loss of stroke - and subsequent loss of the match or even the tournament - to simple pressure or lack of killer instinct. Nope, it's the Pool Yips for sure and I'd have given my left nu...ahem...I mean, my left LEG, for anyone who could have cured me of it.

I use a similar trick to John Leathwick's: the shutter delay. On my previous Nikon, it was about a half-second and on this one it's a whole second. It works wonderfully on SLRs—you learn to use that second after the mirror has swung up to steady and shakes and listen for the click.

The downside: it's the only way I can shoot SLRs at low shutter speeds now. (Again, psychological.) I have no problems with the X100's near-silent shutter and lack of vibration.

One benefit of the high ISO capabilities on digital cameras is the fact you bump up the shutter speed ;-)

I'd prefer a sharp + slightly noisy image over a blurry image with no noise.

I used to have a problem of involuntary flinching when barbers approached me with clippers. Not a fear response, just a tic. I discovered that if I initiated some other muscle movement just at the moment of contact, it prevented the tic. Exhaling usually works, and sometimes rhythmically tapping a toe. The trick might work for you if you can find a muscle that doesn't cause the camera to shake, and focus your mind briefly on that.

I forgot to add: when I was about 10, one of my dad's friends gave me this great tip to stay steady when shooting slow.

He told me to cycle my breathing, slowly and calmly but methodically and that at the point when I've completed my breathing in cycle and my lungs are full to smoothly synchronise the shutter press.

That tip has never left me and like a belly putter it takes the physical thought around your shutter finger and transfers it to a larger muscle group that is used to doing what it is doing (i.e. breathing). Try it!



Is there a threaded shutter release in the XT-1? You could try a soft release, I've always found it helps a lot, and I use them (mini Tom Abrahmson variety) whenever I can.

If I were you, you me, and I were giving you advice, I'd probably say:

Give yourself an assignment where you try to capture the subject's movement rather than freeze it. I bet after doing this for a while you'd get rid of the yips when shooting still shots.

The picture of Ben Hogan is great, with lovely black and white tone.

I don't at all doubt the existence of physical / psychological disorders that can affect stability, but as Jamie suggested above, mass helps stability. It gives your muscles something to do besides twitch, and the increased mass has more inertia.
I know that I am far more stable with a heavier camera. As I've gotten older, I've become more of a 'leaner' --a wall, a tree, a car, or parking meter. For jobs that require no flash I use the old trick of the leica table top tripod with the taller head (or the cast aluminum manfrotto) to brace against almost any surface. I even occasionally use a variation of the old string stabilizer--a 5-6' piece of 1/2" wide nylon strap attached to a 1/4-20 bail screw on one end and a small piece of hard rubber on the other. Drop it, step on it, pull it to tension with the camera, and Bob's you Uncle, as they say.

Focal length seems to be an important factor to me; I can hand-hold far longer exposures with ultrawides (90° or wider) than with normal lenses. Perhaps this too is a "placebo effect"?

[No, not at all--the longer the lens, the more movement is magnified. The slowest handholdable shutter speed was long thought to be the approximate inverse of focal length--1/30th for a 35mm lens, 1/125th for a 135mm lens, etc. --Mike]

Last thursday, at 4:10 AM. approx, Saturn went behind the Moon. I recorded the rare event handholding my Iphone 5s against the eyepiece of a small refractor telescope I have. Since the event was unique, and once its over, there is no way to go back, my hands shook much more than usual. Telescope magnification was around 110x, amplifying vibrations horrendously. I thought results would be disastrous, but the built in stabilization of the Iphone camera, plus the shake filter included in Final Cut Pro, help me to make an OK video. Here is the link:


I strongly recommend seeing it at full 1080p resolution and full screen.

As a golfer who has had the yips, I would 100% concur with Mr. Tanaka about closing your eyes before shooting. When putting,I would get myself all aligned ect to the point of when I would normally pull the trigger, then close my eyes and pull the trigger. It works amazingly well! It takes a bit of courage when money is on the line, but after yipping a few you know you have nothing to lose. And interestingly, after awhile, I found I stopped having the yips and could open my eyes again.

I was just playing around with touch focus on an EOS M (i.e., touch a spot on the LCD preview, camera focuses on that spot and trips shutter), and thinking that since fine motor control has been decoupled from shutter actuation, this process is essentially yip-proof. (In essence like the timer-delay trick.) At least on the human side of the equation.

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