Camera Class – Banish the Blur

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Welcome to our third week of camera class, where we give you some simple tips to improve your photography no matter what kind of camera you’re using!

We’ve already taken a look at the importance of light and lenses, this week it’s all about camera shake.

For photo fans, there are few worse feelings than taking a bunch of photos and only realising later that many of them have turned out blurry. In most cases, we want the subject of the snap to be in sharp focus, so avoiding blurriness is an absolute must.

Blurry photos are caused by two major factors – a shutter speed which was too slow to deal with the conditions and camera shake. Here are a few tips on how to beat these factors.

Use a TripodThis is maybe an obvious tip but taking the human factor out of holding the camera can have massive benefits. While you may think you are standing still, the human body is constantly in motion – with the rise and fall of your breath and even the pulse of blood capable of throwing off a shot.

A mechanical aid is an absolute must for any photographer but it doesn’t have to be a huge and expensive monstrosity. Small trips are easy to pack and provide enough stability for most shots and you don’t even have to use an actual tripod. Bean bags are a solid alternative and any flat surface will do in a pinch, or you can create one with your camera bag or lens cap.

Brace YourselfSometimes you just don’t have access to a tripod but fear not, you can still take a decent shot. Just find something steady to lean against, like a tree or wall. You can also brace the camera by tucking your elbows into your body, or by kneeling down and resting it on your leg.

Breathing is also important. Photographers suggest holding your breath and letting it out slowly, then gently squeezing the shutter button before you take another breath. It’s pretty close to the way rifle shooters talk about squeezing the trigger at the moment when the body is as relaxed as possible.

The Light FantasticAs with everything else in photography, light has a big part to play. If you’re looking to up the shutter speed, let there be more light. There are numerous ways to do this, from positioning your subject in a better direction or waiting for them to cross a brighter area to firing off the flash.

The higher the shutter speed, the more chance you have of freezing the action – if that is the effect you are after. If you are shooting in auto mode the camera will try its best to give you a blur-free shot but there’s no harm making its job easier, and potentially taking a better photo into the bargain.

For advanced users – one way to increase the amount of light is to manually set the f-stop at the lowest possible number for your camera. This will mean faster shooting speeds but a lower depth of field – which is the amount of the picture that’s in focus.

Take Your TimeSometimes you just have to be patient. That might mean waiting until what you want to take a picture of is better lit (like waiting for a cloud to pass) or even just pausing for a second or two to reduce shake before a shot.

But it’s always worth taking an extra few moments to take a great photo. One thing many photographers can forget is that cameras shooting red eye reduction will actually use the flash twice. The first flash is to make the pupils contract so less of the red part of the eye is visible, while the picture is actually taken on the second shot. This tip leads into our last one…

Double Check Your PhotosAs we said at the beginning, there’s nothing worse than coming back from a long day of taking photos to find that many of them are a blurry mess. This can happen for a number of reasons (the lens could even be dirty!) but you’ll never know unless you check.

So take a moment to review the pictures you’ve taken and try to snap another if you’re not happy with the result. You could even take a few exposures every time you’re snapping something important, as the sharpness is likely to vary from one to the next. And don’t be afraid to take a little more time to get the photo, and the memory, you really want!

Check out our other camera class posts here and find all the latest cameras and accessories (including tripods and much more) at Harvey Norman here.

In Short: In this weeks Camera Class, we’re taking a look at the causes of blurry photos and giving you some top tips for banishing the blur!

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