Making the Most of Long Exposure Handhelds
Kneeling and Sitting Positions
How you position your body and all components of it will make a significant difference. This subchapter will focus on the proper kneeling and sitting positions.
Let's say the weather is just beautiful and you won't dirty up your nice slacks, so the decision is made to "take a knee." For some, standing just isn't a good solution. I know plenty of rifle shooters that are terrible shots standing and amazing marksmen as soon as they reduce their profile to on a knee. I am not one of those people. And then I know those that are the exact opposite - kneeling causes them to personally embody the very idea of wasting ammunition, yet when standing they have a competition-tight grouping. The guy who taught me the above "Torso-Turn-Hip-Point" was one of those. For kneeling, there are a couple minor variations to the same basic position. This is your basic kneel:
Take note how the arm that is supporting the weight of the camera (left hand) is supported by my left knee, which has a strong, 90 degree, flat-footed plant on the ground. Notice as well how much I am leaning forward. Also, and this is where a lot of people get the kneeling position wrong: the elbow. I do not have it resting on my knee (i.e. elbow point on knee). Instead I have the meaty part of the back of my arm (the tricep muscle) on my knee. Here is another angle so you can see what I mean:
Some people prefer not to cant the arm inside but pointing straight in front of you. To this I say, "Shooter's Preference." But going back to not putting "bone on bone," this is what wrong looks like:
Because some of you of course won't believe me at face value (hell I wouldn't), I want you to test it. Assume the position (hehe) above, with your elbow straight on your knee. Then I want you to try to roll your elbow on your knee and just grind it. See how much it moves and how unstable it is? Now do the same test after putting the meaty part of your triceps onto your knee (or along the inside, as I depicted above). I'm definitely not going to say I told ya so...
For your back foot, there are two positions. First, you can have your foot on the ground, but not be sitting on it. The other is the exact opposite - rest your foot on the ground, and then sit down on top of your back foot. The latter is technically more stable, however I do not like it because I find it uncomfortable - when kneeling I like to lean far forward, and you can't do that and sit on your foot at the same time comfortably. At least I can't. Again, experiment with both and you will learn which your body naturally prefers.
Even more stable is the sitting position: I can stay here all day long. The sitting position has its benefits over standing or kneeling because of the obvious gain in stability, which occurs from having more of your body in contact with the ground (your "fourth point of contact"), as well as the lowering of your center of gravity. Not to be forgotten is its ability to be covert.
Sometimes you just cannot stand up. I found myself in this situation when I attended a Cirque du Soleil performance (I may or may not have not have snuck in my Canon G11, I can neither confirm nor deny). It was dark, I was in the middle of the audience, and couldn't stand up or get on a knee, so I had to play the cards I was dealt at the current moment - or not make an attempt at getting the shot. I don't know about you, but the latter just isn't one of my options.
That's the beautiful thing about knowing all of these positions - it allows you to be flexible and choose the one that best works for you in any given situation, thus making you a more adaptable (and thus successful) shooter.
For this position, the basic stance is as follows:
Just like with the kneeling above, you are not doing bone to bone. The only change, however, is that instead of resting your knee into the meaty party of your triceps, you are now resting your elbows (both of them) into the meaty part of your calves. You can go above the knee and put your elbows into your thighs, however I prefer doing it this way (as pictured) because, once again, it allows me to lean "into the weapon." See how these are all just variations of the same basic principles?
To further maximize your potential to stabilize (or if found yourself asking, "What calves?"), put your feet together, and instead of putting your elbows into your calves, rest your forearms along the insides of your legs.
And if you are ready to go the extra mile, you may find yourself even more stable (or not - again, Shooter's Preference) completely leaned forward.
Notice how in this position you find your elbows no longer being your support, however your triceps on your shins. And notice how my back has the same exact shape here as did kneeling? The fundamentals stay the same throughout. I know that is getting repetitive, but there is nothing the military does better - repetition, repetition, repetition.