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Is your Camera Trying to Shake, Rattle and Roll?

By Edited Dec 11, 2013 2 7

Blaaa, Blurry photo's again.

You pay the cashier, hurry out the door, open the envelope. Your best friends birthday party was a smashing success and you were able to take the photos. Then there it is again. That feeling of disappointment when you see your photographs are blurry again. Why? Why? Why? Why does this problem keep haunting you?

I don't expect that it will make you feel any better, but...

It really does happen to lots of people

Camera's are smart. They know how to check light, find faces, focus and even fix many problems before they ever happen. So why do you keep getting blurry photographs?

Most people have blurry photographs for one reason. There just isn't enough light for the photograph you are taking.

What's light have to do with it?

Well, camera's are using the light to decide what setting make sense for each photograph you take. When you take a photograph the camera adjust something called the shutter speed.

Okay, so what's shutter speed?

Shutter speed determines how long the shutter will stay open, allowing light to enter the camera. Just like your kitchen sink, when you turn on the water. The longer you leave the facet on the more water comes through.

So why does this cause blurry photos?

The longer the shutter is open the more light comes in. That's the good side of things. The problem is this. The longer the shutter is open, the more movement can effect the photograph. However, today is your lucky day, because you control a lot of the movement while the shutter is open.

Is poor technique causing your blurry photographs?

Two things can move at just the wrong time, leaving you with a blurry photo.

Sit Still!

Moving subjects will often cause blurry photographs. Unfortunately, you can't often change this part of the problem.

No, YOU sit still....

That's right, when you have the camera in your hand you must be still. When the camera move just fraction of an inch the movement is multiplied several times over in the scene you are photographing.

Can you improve you technique?

You sure can. Actually, one of the easiest way to prevent blurring of photographs caused by camera shake is to simply use a tripod. The tripod locks the camera down, preventing even the slightest movement from appearing in your photographs.

But if you can't use a tripod?

When you can't use a tripod you have to get creative. You must find some way to keep your hands and the camera from moving. Sometimes this is as easy as leaning against a wall or doorway. The solid structure will often give the stability needed to help steady your hand.

Another option is to set the camera on a flat surface to steady your hand or even use the camera timer so you aren't moving at all.

So, What did we cover?

The next time you are the family photographer, use these techniques to steady your hand and add clarity to your photographs.

1.   Use a tripod
2.   Lean against a wall or doorway
3.   Use a flat surface
4.   Set your camera's timer

How do I know it works?

These techniques are best used with at little practice. Take your digital camera to a dim area to practice. You will find that a couple of practice shoots using these techniques will work wonders at the next birthday party.



Sep 5, 2011 1:39am
I saw a neat gadget for photographers travelling without a tripod. It looks like a small tilt and pan head that attaches to a drink bottle with a 28.5mm to a 30.5mm head. I imagine a full bottle would be needed to give it some stability. It also clamps to a car window or book. Neat! It was called a Kathmandu Camera Pod.
Sep 5, 2011 10:22pm
Your tip about leaning against a wall or doorway is super! I will certainly give this a try. Thanks for sharing, and welcome to IB.
Sep 15, 2011 6:31pm
Often people are using the wrong mode on their equipment. Forcing the point and shoot camera to portrait mode or to night mode for example can help. When left on auto the camera will often deliver disappointing results such as blurry images. Whenever I feel a mode is more appropriate for a certain shot I switch from auto to that specific mode.

Also experiment with the iso setting of your camera. Higher iso = sensor more sensible to light = less light needed = less blurry images. Remember that even if your camera can go up to 1200iso, you probably don't want to push it that far. Over 400 iso most camera will give you grainy pictures.
Sep 19, 2011 4:32pm
Lean against a wall or doorway, why I did not think of this. Thanks for sharing this easy tip.
Sep 20, 2011 4:45pm
I always make sure to use a tripod when taking night photographs as they tend to look very blurry with the minimum movement.
Nov 1, 2011 11:02am
Great points. I need to brush up on my camera techniques.
Nov 4, 2011 2:53pm
last few years I'm trying to improve my photography skills but I'm still far, far away from average professional painter. Always finding something new. Thanks.
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