Let’s talk about blurry images for a minute.
Have you ever came back home from a session, thinking it was great? The light was good, your clients had a blast, and everything seemed to be going good until…You upload all your cards, all excited, only to find out your FAVORITE images are not as sharp as they looked on the back of the camera!!
I have been there friend!
And yes, it is frustrating!
But what’s more frustrating is not knowing how to prevent it from happening again!
So why is it? Why are your images not coming out as sharp as you want them to?
Here are five reasons to why you might be getting these pesky soft images!
1.YOUR SHUTTER SPEED IS TOO LOW-
The shutter speed is the length of time when the digital sensor inside the camera is exposed to light. The shutter speed is the element that responsible for freezing our subject.
A good rule of thumb to avoid blurry photos is to set the shutter to match or exceed (I always try to at least double) the focal length of the lens that you are using.
If you are using a 50 mm lens, you should always set your shutter to 1/100 or above to avoid camera shake/ blurry images.
Keep in mind that if you are photographing little kids (who are generally extremely fast & all over the place) you should set your shutter accordingly!
The faster the subject -> the higher the shutter.
A good rule of thumb when photographing the littles is to keep shutter above 1/250 (if possible)
2.YOUR APERTURE IS TOO WIDE
While nobody likes blurry photos, people usually tend to love blurry dreamy backgrounds. Those backgrounds are typically achieved while using a wider aperture, but using too wide of an aperture in the wrong situation can lead to a blurry/ out of focus shot instead.
The Aperture is the opening of the lens that allowed light to come in. It also determines the a distances where the image is in focus.
The wider the aperture -> the smaller the focal field ->the less in focus.
Which means photographing a group of people can become tricky with an open wide aperture, because the plane of focus (the area that is in focus) is very small.
My aperture rule of thumb:
One person – 1.2- 2
Two people – 2
Three & up – 2.2-2.8
Several rows of people – 4 <
Why would I not shoot a full family portrait with a wide open aperture? Like we mentioned above, the wider the aperture, the less is in focus (the smaller the plane of focus). I find that it is harder to keep all family members on the same plane of focus and avoid one of them to be blurry.
3. YOU ARE NOT USING THE CORRECT AF MODE
Every camera have several AF (Auto-focus) modes. When you are photographing movement I would highly advise you to make sure you are using AI-Servo focus mode. AI-Servo tracks focus on moving subjects. So as your subject moves closer or moves further away from you, your camera is constantly updating focus. If you have not been exploring this mode up until now, it might be the reason for missing focus in your images.
4.YOUR GEAR NEEDS MAINTENANCE
This is a big one, that I wish I knew when I was just starting out. When I was just starting out, I had so many times that I was missing focus and getting soft images and I couldn’t figure our why! My settings were correct, the light was good and I just kept missing the shot! It never once occurred to me that my camera needs to be professionally cleaned and checked in order to function smoothly. After sending it in for just the minimal cleaning/ maintenance check up, my images started looking crisp again! I recommend sending your gear at least once/ twice a year to get it cleaned & checked professionally.
5. THERE IS NOT ENOUGH LIGHT
As photographers, we love great light. Well, our cameras love light just as much. If you are trying to shoot in a super dark room, it would be harder to focus and the changes of you getting a softer image are significantly higher. Our cameras lock their focus based on the contrast, and it is harder for them to recognize contrast in darker situations.
September 20, 2019
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