Using a Remote Shutter Release

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Aya Sofya, Istanbul, Turkey
A remote shutter release is simply a device that allows you to trip the shutter of your camera without touching the camera itself.  Mine attaches to the camera with a cable; others operate wirelessly.  These are the kinds of devices that many photographers consider too much of a hassle to bother with, but once you get into the habit of using them, they actually make your life as a photographer much easier.  There are two types of situations when using a remote shutter release can be extremely helpful to you.

Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey
  1. When you need your camera absolutely still.  Even when your camera is attached to a good tripod, pressing the shutter can move the camera ever so slightly, and at slower shutter speeds, this can be a problem.  I'm in the habit now of using a remote shutter release whenever I use my tripod.  I have the release in my hand, and when I have the exposure and composition I want, I press the button.  It's just as easy as using the shutter on the camera; it's just not on the camera.
    Several years ago I was in Istanbul Turkey [gallery], and from the top of my hotel, you could see the Aya Sofya.  I had no tripod, and my remote shutter release had broken.  At dusk I took a whole roll of photographs of the Aya Sofya (I was using slide film); I found a way to situate my camera on my camera bag to give me the composition I wanted.  When I came home, had my slides developed, and every single photograph was slightly blurry.  I'll never get those photos back.  The next time I went to Istanbul, I made sure I had a working remote shutter release with me.  The photo above was taken when I was properly prepared.
  2. Whenever you want to be able to be free from looking in your camera when shooting your picture.  Portrait photographers can benefit greatly from this, since they can look at their subjects when taking pictures.  For me, when shooting flowers on a breezy day, it gets tiresome looking through the viewfinder until the breeze stops.  With a cable release, I can stand up, watch the flower and wait, then immediately trip the shutter when the breeze stops.  One note of caution with this, though.  When outdoors, always cover your viewfinder with a cloth if you're shooting without looking through the viewfinder.  Sunlight entering the viewfinder can alter your exposure.
Flowers at Brookside Gardens
(I needed the cable release to put a diffusing filter close to the buds)
Anymore, photography without my cable release just seems strange.  It's like that feeling you have when you're outdoors and don't have your keys or your wallet in your pocket.  It just doesn't feel right.  It should be the same with your remote shutter release. If you don't have one, they're cheap. Treat yourself to a new photographic toy and use it to take pictures as often as you use your car keys to drive.


  1. I recently tried to photo fireworks using a tripod and a remote thought i was taking lots of photos but only took 10 what did i do wrong?


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