Monday, November 1, 2010

Blurry Photos

I spoke to a photography student of mine last night, who was having trouble with blurry photos. She just purchased a new Canon T1i and was getting great results from it. Then she started having one blurry photo after another. She asked me for advice.

The first thing I asked her was if her lens was clicked into place on her camera. It was. I asked if her lens was set to manual focus (mf). Nope, it was on autofocus (AF). She said she was having the blurry photo issue with both of her lenses. She mentioned that she used a tripod and a remote, to make sure that she didn't shake the camera while shooting. The blurring was even happening on auto mode (the dreaded green rectangle).

When she mentioned that she was having the problem with both lenses, I knew it had to be a non-mechanical issue. I asked her what type of lighting situations she was shooting in. Each time, she was shooting in low light, at sunrise or sunset. I asked her what the shutter speed was on one of the shots. It was slow, at 1/3 sec. Her f-stop was as low (wide opening in aperture) as it could be.

I asked her to turn her flash on and take a photo of something. She did and it came out sharp. The issue was that she wasn't getting enough light for a quick shutter speed and so the camera recorded some kind of movement. It could have been that the tripod wasn't locked down or that her subject was moving. She mentioned that it was windy. That could do it on either account.

Problem solved without a need to take a trip to the camera shop... except maybe for a lens with a wider aperture opening. The moral of the story is be sure to lock down your tripod and try not to expose a shot when the wind is blowing, unless you have a heavy duty, very secure tripod. The other lesson learned here is that, although her aperture could not go any wider, if she raised her ISO, her shutter speed capability could double. Yes, there might be some quality loss, as the shot could be noisy and the color could suffer, but at least she would get the shot. Watch those windy days.

Happy Shooting Everyone!

For more information on Mary Gulino and My Artist Loft workshops, visit

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