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Photography: Preventing blur

1 poolside trees

Today’s photo isn’t particularly interesting, but there is a lot of detail. You can see the fine branches of the trees and the ripples on the water.  The image could have been much sharper, but I managed an interesting effect with a filter. I also kept the camera very still and used quite a fast speed.

Stable camera

Lots of things can move when you’re taking a photograph to make those tiny details blurred. You can sway a little, if your stance isn’t firm enough. So it helps to have your feet apart, perhaps one in front of the other to give you stability. Many small compact cameras only have a rear screen to use as a viewfinder, so too do phones. If you have a viewfinder, then use it. Holding the camera close to the body will make it more stable.

Moving subjects

You might be shooting a moving subject that you don’t want to be blurred then you can choose a faster speed or use the camera’s sports setting. Remember too with landscapes that trees move in the wind and birds fly in and out of the picture. This can give you a sense of movement and the blurred images add to the image, but sometimes you want a fast shot that freezes the movement. If the subject is a person walking or a speeding car, then choose the camera speed accordingly.

Speed and aperture

A narrow aperture is better for landscapes, because it gives depth of field, but it allows less light into the camera and so you need a slower speed. That can result in some blur. It’s always a compromise. Increasing the ISO will make the sensor a little more sensitive to light.

1 1 newton road

For this shot I had to think about moving cars, the wind blowing across the valley and vibration. The vibration is partly compensated by a lens that has VR (vibration reduction). A good stance helps with the cross wind and the cars whizzing past.

Crisp images

If you want the kind of really crisp images that you see in professional photos and on calendars, then you need to hold the camera very still. The way to do this is to use a tripod. You can even trigger the shutter release using remote control. I find it very difficult to use a tripod in most of the locations I go to. I am beginning to plan taking shots and so will be using my tripod more in the future.

The weather

We can’t do much about the weather, except try to adjust to it. As I have written this today, we have had wind, rain and snow in England. That was just in the last hour! Pay attention to light, that is what we are capturing; reflected light. We can get interesting images all year around and make them more interesting by using filters and with creative editing.

I’ve only used two images today, I haven’t taken many new ones. I’m waiting for spring and more light. Not long to go now!

Please comment if you have a thought or a question. You can also follow me on Twitter.

8 responses

  1. Good article. One small point – a smaller aperture, not wider, gives greater depth of field. Unfortunately as the aperture gets smaller its f-stop number increases, which causes lots of confusion 🙂

    11, February 2014 at 11:44 am

    • Hi Steve,

      Yes, narrow aperture. It was snowing when I wrote that. Brain Freeze! I photographed some of the floods this afternoon. I haven’t checked the photos yet. I used the sports setting, so much movement and constantly changing light. There were 2 horses stranded in the middle of the river. It’s more like a stream usually, it was wide and in flood today. Eve on a horrible day like today I do try to get an interesting shot. It also adds to the history of the place.

      11, February 2014 at 7:24 pm

      • I hope you’ve thawed out 🙂

        11, February 2014 at 7:27 pm

  2. Hi Mike, Yes, unintended blurs can really ruin a picture. I read once that you should find a fixed object to rest your camera upon when taking a photo, such as a fence post. I have a portable tripod but I never happen to have it with me so I’m always looking for fixed objects. But often those fixed objects aren’t at the ideal height for the shot.

    I remember your very cool train station edits where the train seemed blurry in some shots, giving the effect of speed. That can be a fascinating effect!

    11, February 2014 at 12:22 pm

    • Hi Carolyn,

      Yes, sometimes we want blurred objects like a speeding car or train, but blurred pigeons ruined one of my shots. The interesting thing is in good light, you can make some shots amazingly clear and so they are great for enlargements as big as 5 feet wide. I often rest on something because tripods are difficult. Especially at night for slow speeds. I get good shots of of the window because I can lean on the windowsill and no shivering because it’s warm. I took pictures of the floods today, I’ll check them out later. I even drove through a flood on a narrow lane. We even had snow this morning!

      Thanks for the comment. I’ll try another comment on your site when I have another free moment!

      11, February 2014 at 6:00 pm

  3. Pingback: The Review: A week of floods | Mike10613's Blog

  4. I don’t like when my pictures turn out blurry. But that happens more with my cell phone than anything.

    19, February 2014 at 11:05 am

    • Hi,

      Yes, it’s very hard to keep a cell phone still while you take the shot. I was asked to use one to photograph someone when I was out on Sunday. I got the sun behind me and the subject well lit but couldn’t see the screen on the phone! Holding it still was hard too. Try leaning on something while you take the photo and keep one foot in from of the other apart to steady yourself.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      19, February 2014 at 3:49 pm

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