One of the biggest problems with photography these days is taking blurry photos. If you find yourself wondering, why you have blurry pictures, chances are you’re doing something wrong.
But don’t worry. Today, we’re going to learn how to fix blurry photos and take clearer, sharper photos. We’re also going to learn some neat tricks to be a better photographer.
Why Are Your Pictures Blurry?
Photos can be blurry for several reasons. It could be that you don’t have the correct focus, or that your camera isn’t stable and your hands are shaking, causing blurry photographs, or it could also be something a little more complicated like your ISO is too high or your shutter speed is too slow.
Here are the top five reasons why your pictures are blurry.
If you’re using the incorrect shutter speed, you’re going to get blurry photographs. The way to fix this is to increase your shutter speed. The faster your shutter speed, the less likely you are to take a blurry photograph. If your shutter speed is quick enough, there’s no chance for the camera to shake.
Shutter speed is critical in handheld mode. No human on earth can hold their camera completely still to compensate for a slow shutter speed. Anything over 1/60th of a second is too long for handheld mode.
The best thing to do is set your shutter speed to half of your lens’s focal length. For example, if you have a 200mm lens, your shutter speed needs to be at 1/200th of a second. And if you have a 20mm focal length, drop your shutter speed down to 1/20th of a second.
Depth of Field & Aperture
One of the most confusing things for beginner photographers is perfecting the use of the aperture and mastering depth of field. Depth of field is important for capturing clear photos. The wider your aperture is, the shallower your depth of field becomes.
To make sense of this, just remember that if you have a wide aperture, only a small portion of your picture is going to be sharp. Depth of field is how you take a portrait with the model’s face sharp and the background blurry. But this same technique, using a wide aperture, can cause a landscape to look blurry with just a small piece of it sharp.
To correct this, try starting with an aperture of f/8. If you need to achieve a greater depth of field, simply use a smaller aperture. Experiment with different apertures and shutter speeds to achieve sharper photos.
One of the biggest mistakes with new photographers is trying to jack up the ISO as high as possible thinking that a higher ISO setting will equal better photographs. But this isn’t how it works.
A higher ISO setting will result in too much noise in your photograph. This means whenever you take a photo, it can appear softer than it should and even a little blurry. In daylight, an ISO setting of 6400 can make a portrait unbearably blurry.
To take the sharpest photos possible, make sure that you keep your ISO settings at the absolute lowest. A good way to test for the perfect setting is to photograph the same thing at different ISO levels to check the differences.
Camera shake is above all the most common cause of blurry photographs. This is especially true in handheld mode. Even the slightest amount of shaking from you can result in horrendously blurred photographs.
The best way to correct camera shake is to get the right posture. You want to support your camera properly, generally by holding your lens below with whichever hand isn’t dominant and keeping your elbows tucked to your sides.
You also want to hold your breath when taking the photograph or be sure to exhale slowly to reduce the vibrations. Think of it as the world pauses for your photograph, and so too does your breath.
If you have a solid surface handy, try steadying yourself and using your elbows like a tripod.
Use a Tripod
The best way to keep your camera stable is by using a tripod. Because a tripod can keep your camera steady basically forever, you can use smaller apertures and lower ISO settings along with longer shutter speeds. Tripods also help to give you a better focus.
The only thing with using a tripod is that it needs to be perched on a surface that’s not going to move. Passing traffic can cause the tripod to shake. So can people walking close by. Make sure your tripod is on a stable surface to achieve the clearest photos possible.
As a side note, make sure that you buy a quality tripod. If you buy a cheap tripod, chances are you could get blurry photos because the weight of your camera alone makes the cheap tripod vibrate.
And Lastly, always turn off the image stabilization when utilizing a tripod. Image stabilization causes your camera to constantly look for movement to mitigate. Since there is no movement at all with a tripod, you have no need for the image stabilization. If you’ve been using the tripod with image stabilization active, this could be the reason your photos are blurry.
Use Burst Mode
Try shooting in burst mode to capture the sharpest photos. If you’re trying to target a moving subject, burst mode will increase your chances of getting that perfect shot. Plus, you can choose which frame is your favorite from the action sequence. For sports and wildlife photography, burst mode is essential to not taking blurry photographs.
That said, you may notice that the first and last pictures in a set of burst shots are going to be blurry. This is because of the movement that happens when you press and release the shutter. Simply avoid blurry photos by choosing the ones in the middle of the sequence.
Trust Manual Mode
Manual mode is the best friend of professional photographers. Autofocus is definitely a great tool, but if you want to take truly amazing photos, you need to master how to focus your camera manually to get exactly what you’re after.
This is especially true when using a tripod. If you want to find the exact focus spot to get the sharpest pictures, all you need is the live view mode of your camera and manual focus to make the slightest adjustments. This will yield the greatest sharpness and reduce any chance of blurry photos.
Keep Your Lens Clean
This should go without saying, but keeping the glass of your lens clean and free of smears is going to dramatically improve the quality of your photographs. If you have a dirty lens, your pictures are probably going to be ruined. This is even true with the lens on your cell phone, which when dirty can lead to blurry selfies.
The best way to rectify this is to make a habit of cleaning your lens glass on a regular basis. You should also keep your viewfinder clean. If you take care of your equipment, your equipment will take care of you!
Master the Art of Focus
Mastering the art of focus is going to improve your photographs dramatically. One of the reasons that your photos might be coming out blurry is that you’ve been focusing on the wrong part of the image.
To take the best photos, ensure that your focus point is directed at the proper element in your photograph. For example, if you’re taking a picture of a person, make sure that you focus on them and not on the background by mistake.
Also, understanding how to focus while taking a photo is critical. When you’re aiming at your subject, you need to press the shutter button only halfway to make your camera focus before fully pressing the shutter down and taking the photo.
You also need to ensure that you’re using the right focus mode with your camera. There are three focus modes normally available.
Continuous focus is used for photographing something that’s moving. Once you’ve focused on the subject, this mode will help the camera to keep tracking that very same subject without losing focus.
One-shot focus is when the camera focuses on what you’re pointing at and will not refocus so long as you have the button pressed down.
Autofocus is great for beginners. Autofocus switches between single and continuous depending on your subject. For an amateur, autofocus is a great way to take beautiful photographs without fully understanding how focus modes operate.
However, autofocus isn’t always reliable and could be the reason you’re taking blurry photos. If you find yourself asking, “Why are my pictures blurry?” try switching between focus modes to improve your shots.
When all your photos start coming out blurry, you need to change the way you’re taking pictures. Try experimenting with different shutter speeds, with different focus options, and with modes you haven’t used before. Switch up your depth of field, use a tripod, and even take a break to recalibrate yourself.
To answer the original question: Why are my pictures blurry? Blurry photos are just a part of being a photographer. The best way to take better photos is to continue experimenting and growing as a photographer!