Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Stop The Shakes
Tips for getting your sharpest photos ever
|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
|Freddy Nock on his record-breaking tightrope walk to celebrate the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Jungfrau Railway. Wanting to freeze him in midstride, I used a shutter speed of 1⁄640 sec. at ƒ/7.1 on my 180mm lens on a Nikon D3x body with the ISO set at 100.|
One of the most common issues a potentially strong photo can suffer from is blur caused by camera shake, yet it's something that can be eliminated easily by proper holding of the camera, use of a tripod, and understanding what shutter speed necessitates a switch from handholding to a tripod. Understanding what causes camera shake and what can be done to avoid it can help ensure that you capture the beauty of a place, and avoid returning home with disappointingly soft images.
SHAKE, BLUR OR OUT OF FOCUS?
Often the word "blur" is used to describe the areas of an image that are out of focus. Let's not use that word in this case. Instead, let's describe the areas that were not captured within the depth of field of the camera lens as they are: out of focus.
That's not necessarily a bad thing. Selective focus—using the lens' aperture to limit depth of field and direct attention to what's important in the image—is one of the most important tools a photographer can use. Like many other professional photographers, I shoot in aperture-priority mode because I want to constantly be aware of, and control, my depth of field, while keeping an eye on my shutter speed to not let it fall below the minimum that's required for a given situation.
For my style of photography, I prefer my subjects to be tack sharp, so it's rare for me to shoot at less than 1/125 sec. if there's a person or other moving subject in my frame. Even a person standing still is still moving to some degree.
The photojournalist's mantra is "ƒ/8, 1/250, and be there." Breaking that down, an aperture of ƒ/8 will normally ensure enough depth of field to have the subject of the photo in focus; the 1⁄250 sec. shutter speed will be fast enough to stop or slow down the action to define it; and "be there" means that the photographer is prepared (or lucky) enough to be at the right place at the right time to get the shot. For our purposes, we're focusing on shutter speed.
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