There are many factors that go into making a great photo vs just another snapshot. One of the primary elements of a great photo is that the subject is clear and in focus. Camera shake is one of the biggest obstacles that photography beginners face with their images. In this article I’m going to share some professional photography tips I have used over the years to achieve perfect focus in my photography.
Avoiding Camera Shake With Shutter Speed
When you take a photo the shutter inside your camera opens, the image is recorded and then the shutter closes again. Any camera movement while the shutter is open will result in blurring. The longer the shutter is open, the more noticeable the blur will become. This is called camera shake.
Where I often see photographers making mistakes related to camera shake is in the art of hand-holding shots. Here’s a golden rule to follow. When hand-holding, you’re shutter speed should always be greater than your focal length. This means if you’re shooting with your lens set at 60mm, you’re shutter speed needs to be 1/60 second or faster. If you’re trying to hand-hold this shot at 1/15 then you’re, without a doubt, going to produce a blurry photo.
Another thing to consider is your camera. Non-professional DSLR cameras are not full frame. This means there is a crop factor that must be calculated. This number will be either 1.5 or 1.6 depending on if you use Nikon or Canon. Simply take the focal length and multiple it by the crop factor of your body to get your true focal length.
More Pro Tips For Sharper Photos
A tripod is designed to stabilize the camera and lens. When hand-holding shots, your body becomes the tripod. Here are some tricks for self-stabilization.
Hold your breath before taking the shot. Hunters use this tactic all the time. Get your subject composed in your sights, take a deep breath, hold it, and fire.
Brace yourself. Find a solid object to lean against. It’s not uncommon to find me leaning against trees, walls, cars, doorways, boulders, or anything else that can support my body.
Don’t just crouch down. Many photographers will crouch into a lower position where their feet are still the only part of their body touching the ground. Sometimes this works but after a long day of shooting or during a fast-paced session you will notice it often doesn’t work at all. Don’t be afraid to get dirty. Sit down or lay on the ground. Do whatever it takes to stabilize your body.
Keep your elbows closer to your body. Yes, I’ve seen the movies where famous fashion photographers are jumping around with their arms going everywhere shooting a million images a minute. They will direct the shoot by pointing towards the model with one hand and shooting with the camera in the other. That looks great, but this is the real world. Hold your camera firmly with both hands and keep your arms close to your body for a sharper shot.
Here’s the final pro photography tip for avoiding blurry photos. Use a combination of everything above. When you don’t have optimal lighting you should check your shutter speed, brace against a stable object, position yourself into a stabilized stance, take a deep breath, and shoot. Follow these photography tips and you will see an immediate improvement in your photos.
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