1. Camera Shake:
Camera shake is the most common cause of blurry photos. The camera will select a slow shutter speed in low light situations where you’re not using flash. If you handhold at this shutter speed, you will have camera shake and there’s nothing you can do in the post production process to remedy it. So let’s look at a couple of ways to prevent it before you take the shot. If you don’t want to use flash, use a tripod. Just remember you can get camera shake using a tripod if you press the shutter forcefully. Gently press the shutter down, if you’re still getting camera shake, consider using a cable release. If you don’t have a cable release, use the timer function on your camera. If you don’t have a tripod, place your camera on a stable surface like a table. The general rule of thumb when handholding your camera is to use a shutter speed that is 1/lens focal length or faster, i.e. when shooting with a 100mm lens, your shutter speed should be 1/100th second or faster. The other option is to increase your ISO, but the trade-off is possible loss of quality (grainy/noisy photos).
2. Depth of field:
The larger your depth of field, f3.5 as an example, the less of your subject will be in focus. The technique is used to blur certain areas of the image like the background in portrait photos. In group photos that were taken at f5.6, you’ll often see the people at the back are blurred while the front row is in focus. Fix this by increasing your fstop, f11 should work well for large groups, f8 for smaller groups. When photographing small subjects like jewelry, it’s very difficult (often impossible) to get the full item in focus. The further the lens is from the subject, the more of it will be in focus. This could count to your advantage – play around with subjects like flowers and get in as close as you can to create interesting focus areas.
3. Focusing on the wrong part of the picture:
Make sure you focus your camera’s focus point on the subject you’d like in focus. If you have a problem with blurry photos, check to see if the background is in focus, while your subject is out of focus. If this is the case, practice focusing on the subject. The more you use your camera, the more comfortable you’ll become with it’s autofocus feature. Make sure you don’t accidentally switch over to manual focus, if you’re expecting to use autofocus and the camera’s set to manual focus, the image will be blurred.
4. Subject movement:
If you’re photographing a fast moving subject like someone playing sports, make sure your shutter speed is fast. A nice technique is to “pan” your subject: focus on the moving subject, and move your camera with the subject. The result is a subject that’s in focus, and a blurred backround, indicating speed.
5. Dirty lens:
If your lens is dirty, don’t expect to get sharp images. Don’t just clean your lenses (or filters) with anything – you could scratch and damage them. I use a Lenspen – an indispensable addition to any camera owner’s inventory. It’s inexpensive, has a brush on the one end that cleans specs of dust off the lens, and a tip covered in cleaning compound on the other end that cleans fingerprints etc. It’s a good idea to permanently fit your lens with a UV filter. It absorbs ultraviolet rays, and gives clearer, sharper pictures with less haze. If the filter’s surface gets damaged, it’s a lot less heartbreaking to replace than a lens.
Happy ‘sharp’ shooting!
Marinda Van Zyl is a South African photographer that specializes in weddings and fashion photography, but also shoots concerts, products, events etc. Visit http://www.marinda.co.za to view some of her work, as well as articles on photography and photoshop tutorials.
Like This Article?
Don't Miss The Next One!
Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current: