Nice to see the less exotic species getting some attention, fair bit of comment on 'soft' focus I'm definitely no expert but can only try to help. Re Richards comment on cropping, I don't know what he uses, but I crop using paint shop pro, and that always needs a touch with the sharpening tool after cropping, so it may be common to most systems. Like my namesake, I find centre focus is best, and try to be gentle with the release button, most dslr's seem to have the shutter release on the front of the hand grip, and any undue force will cause more movement than the old slr where the button was further back. I also seldom use a tripod, but was taught many years ago, to dig the left elbow into your body while holding the lens as near the end as possible, wrap the camera strap round your right wrist and pull tight against the shoulder, this helps to form a natural tripod (sounds awkward but does work, better using manual focus, as auto tries to twist the lens while you are holding it). oh yes as said two or three deep breaths then hold your breath Thanks to Aidan for giving me another excuse not to give up smoking, the shakes aren't a problem yet!
Hope some of this might be of some use, my recent rook was also a sit in the car and use the door as a rest. so use whatever works.