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Avoiding Blurred Photographs

Updated on July 10, 2010

Many factors enter when taking crisp clear photos.

Mind the lighting, focus and weather when photographing flowers. The use of complimentary colors also helps to create good photographs.
Mind the lighting, focus and weather when photographing flowers. The use of complimentary colors also helps to create good photographs.
Photographing paintings requires the use of a tripod and good, strong, even, bounced lighting.
Photographing paintings requires the use of a tripod and good, strong, even, bounced lighting.
If handled right, you should be able to capture many subtle color variations in your photograph.
If handled right, you should be able to capture many subtle color variations in your photograph.
Choice of background can go far to enhance your subject.
Choice of background can go far to enhance your subject.
Sometimes, timing can be everything!
Sometimes, timing can be everything!
Though some shots may be tempting, they wind up blurry. For these, a manual focus is a must.
Though some shots may be tempting, they wind up blurry. For these, a manual focus is a must.

Tips for taking good photographs

I was traveling via the Vancouver sky-train and had my digital camera out and at the ready. It was a beautiful fall day with leaves in resplendent glory in magenta, crimson, amber, burnt sienna, yellow and shades of faded green. Inspired, I prepared the camera to grab some images of these trees as the sky train raced past each in turn. They were so gorgeous that I thought that this level of beauty would not last and I wanted to capture it, perhaps to do paintings later during the gray days of winter. When I got home and uploaded the pictures, most of them turned out totally useless. A few were salvageable, but only if viewed at low resolution. I was disappointed and had to go out later and take them from the street.

Whether you have a standard snapshot camera, a 35 mm SLR or the digital variations of these, no one wants to discover that their cherished photographs are blurred and less than what they expected or attempted to achieve. Sometimes the subject is moving and sometimes the photographer is moving, such as someone who is in pursuit of a news image. There are some rules to follow for best results.

Use a tripod when possible. There is nothing that can stabilize a camera as well as the use of a tripod. Failing that, one can use a mono-pod or brace yourself and the camera against a steady object like a tree or lamp post. This is especially true for low light situations. No matter how careful we are, when the photograph is taken by just holding and clicking the camera, there will be some movement. Now this won’t be a problem if the subject is brightly lit and you are using a high shutter speed setting, but for dim light, this can be a problem. In evening or night shots, merely holding the camera will not work. It must be steadied one way or another. Further, you may need a shutter trigger device in order to prevent jiggling the camera with depressing the shutter as normal.

Use a high speed setting. Whenever possible select a high speed film as you can use the higher shutter speeds for taking your photographs. Higher shutter speeds mean a shorter time that the film or CCD is exposed to light. This s an excellent choice for photographing high subjects like birds in flight horse races and sporting events. High speed films tend to be grainy but CCDs do not have this problem especially if your camera has built n light amplification. Now some low light situations cause a digital version of graininess. More recent and higher end digital cameras have solved this problem.

Use a flash or augmented lighting in a low light situation. The use of a flash must be done with care otherwise you will have to use software to get the red-eye out your loved ones eyes. For this you will have to use ether a bounced flash or an offset flash. Many higher end cameras will allow you to use a bounced flash (light bounced from and angle other than head on). These cameras will often allow you to remove the flash and set it up to one side to allow for a type of indirect lighting. Some photographers use various bounce screens and umbrellas. These can be cumbersome and useful only for professional portraiture or professional film making. For best general use it is best to use indirect or bounced flash.

With some subjects, it is easier to get clear and non-blurred photographs. Among these are scenery, architecture and flowers. Flowers however, can be adversely affected by the wind, making clear photography difficult. Either wait for the wind to die down, or come back another day If possible. If you are photographing friends and family, get them to be still and check the lighting. If you are shooting moving scenes like sports, then consider using the video setting on your digital camera. By using video processing software, you can later break the video down scene by scene and select the best frames.

Many cameras that are made today, are fixed on auto-focus. This seldom works the way you want. It is better to get one with a manual focus so that you can be sure before you depress the shutter. Older style SLR cameras usually are equipped with a manual focus. Newer cameras often rely only on auto-focus and also have only a digital display. Most digital displays are drowned out in strong sun, making it difficult even to aim the camera properly. As far as digital photography is concerned, if possible, make sure you have a manual view finder as well as the digital display. You should also pick a camera that has a manual focus as a choice from auto-focus. These two additions will go a long way to eliminate many blurry photographs.

Zoomed or telescopic images are much harder to stabilize than normal ranged focused ones. If you are going to use zoom photograph to get closer to your target that can’t be reached otherwise you must use a tripod. A timed shutter release will also help to eliminate shake. Now some contemporary digital cameras claim to compensate for shaking, but you should assume that a steady camera is best, even with these. Forget about using a flash for telescopic or zoom photography as the light from the flash will dissipate too much to be of use. Turn off the flash if shooting the moon or stars.

When in motion, try to lock on and follow the target. This type of photography can only be perfected by lots of practice. It is something akin to skeet shooting. You have to follow and even anticipate your target. If you pursue this direction expect a lot of dud photographs. Take more in order to increase chances of getting a few good ones. Occasionally you will get a good one. The chance of creating an artistic masterpiece of photography is what makes this attractive.

Sometimes you may be able to enhance photographs after the fact, using sophisticated software, but this is more of an afterthought. It is better to strive for a good shot at the get-go.

Shoot with the sun almost behind you or to one side if possible. The sun is an excellent source of natural light but with consideration. The sun will allow for the use of slower films for that cherished detail. CCD technology is not as dependent upon this as film types. The sun should ideally be off to one side or at an angle to the subject of interest. The sun in line with your subject will make the subject silhouette. Behind you the sun will tend to wash out the subject making it flat looking..

Try to get the image in a shaded area to avoid harsh contrasts. Sometimes the best solution is to shoot on cloudy days in order to get better shading. This is equivalent to using bounce flash in a controlled indoor environment.


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