Mirror Lockup…


I was recently reminded of a photography technique called ‘mirror lockup’.

Wikipedia can probably explain mirror lockup better than I can, but I will try to give a brief explanation… mirror lockup is a way to reduce camera shake while taking a photo.  When you take a photo with a SLR camera, once you press the shutter button the mirror flips up and then the shutter opens to take the photo.  Mirror lockup allows that mirror to flip up, the camera to settle from the shaking, then the shutter opens (usually with an additional pushing of the shutter button).

This technique is best done with a tripod and a remote shutter button.

Since I generally am a handheld photographer, I have not employed this technique very often.  I think I may have read my manual to see if my camera would do it when it was mentioned in a class about a year ago, but I don’t think I ever put it into practice… that is, until yesterday.

I have a hanging pot on my balcony of a Lantana plant and for some reason no matter when I try to take a photo (usually macro) I’m never happy with the results.  I have taken photos of small flowers before with no problem, but for some reason this particular plant has evaded my abilities.  I decided that perhaps it was camera shake that was the problem and decided to try mirror lockup.

Mirror Lockup

These are my results… (the second photos in this section employ mirror lockup)

Initially I was using a 50mm macro lens…



Then I switched to my 180mm macro lens…



The differences are very slight, but sometimes in macro photography it just might break a shot if it has camera shake.

To use mirror lockup most effectively, you should use a tripod and a remote. Check your camera manual for how to do mirror lockup… I use Canon and it is under custom features.

Make sure you focus first, then using your remote, press the shutter button (now your mirror has flipped up) allow a second for the camera to settle, then press the shutter button again (this time the shutter opens and the image is taken). Test it out for yourself, do you see a difference?

After my initial experimentation with mirror lockup vs. regular shooting… I started taking photos using mirror lockup exclusively…


It may just be this particular flower but it always comes out a little strange. Maybe it is that the petals face in many directions, I don’t know, but I always get surreal images…



Playing Around

Then I decided to add a black background using a black foam core board that I held behind the flowers…


lantana - black background


lantana - black background

In general I think this flower is just a difficult subject to photograph (maybe because it is in a hanging pot?)… whatever the reason for the strangeness, I do believe that mirror lockup has improved the images somewhat and it is something I think I will continue to explore in the future.

Q: Have you used mirror lockup before?  What where your results?

I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time…

Kind thoughts and comments are always welcome...

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