If everything in your image is blurred, including any foreground and background objects, it probably means that your camera moved during the exposure. First, ensure that you are supporting your camera properly. If you are shooting with an SLR camera, you’ll be holding the grip with your right hand, your finger placed on the shutter button. Most people find the best way to support the camera with your left hand is to cup your hand under the
lens with your palm facing upwards, and your hand wrapped around the barrel of the lens. This also enables you to zoom the lens, or manually tweak the focus, when necessary. It also really helps to tuck your elbows in to your sides, and, if you know that you are pushing it a bit on the shutter speed, find something solid like a tree or a wall to lean against.
This is a well-known guideline, but just to recap, the golden rule regarding the slowest shutter speeds for hand-held shooting is to use the focal length you are shooting at as the shutter speed. For example, if you are shooting with a 50 mm lens, you will want to use a shutter speed of 1/50 of a second or faster to avoid camera shake. If you are shooting at 200 mm, you will want a shutter speed of 1/200 of a second or higher. The longer the focal length, the faster your shutter speed needs to be.
Image Stabilization (Canon) or Vibration Reduction (Nikon) will also help and usually provides two or more stops of stabilization. If you have three stops of stabilization, you could get away with a shutter speed as low as 1/25 of a second at 200 mm. The problem with going this slow is that you may start to see blur because of subject movement, so the focal-length-as-shutter-speed rule is a good base to work with, but care is still needed.
The most obvious alternative to holding a camera by hand is to use a tripod and, as long as you buy something sturdy enough to hold your gear and withstand a bit of wind, that will certainly help in most cases. There are, however, still many variables to bear in mind, and we’ll look at those in an upcoming Craft & Vision publication.
by: MARTIN BAILEY
Photography Tips To Make Sharper Images (Part 4: Moving Subjects) by: Martin Bailey
Photography Tips To Make Sharper Images (Part 3: Focus Error) by: Martin Bailey
Photography Tips To Make Sharper Images (Part 2: Subject Movement) by: Martin Bailey
Photography Tips To Make Sharper Images (Part 1: Camera Shake) by: Martin Bailey