No Matter What, I Always Get Blurry Photos! What Gives?

One of the most frustrating things we face as photographers is getting back from a shoot, looking over your the gallery and realizing that a majority of photos that you thought were amazing as you took them, are not as sharp as you had hoped. Blurry photos can be one of the most disheartening things to face as a photographer. The good news is you can take control of your photo taking and get back on track to doing what you love.

Maybe you have been wondering: Why does it seem like my photos are blurry all the time? What am I missing? Let’s take a look at the 4 main culprits of blurry photos.

Your Subject is Out Of Focus

One of the things to be on the watch for is where you have your focus point set. Sometimes, even the slightest movement after selecting our focus point could cause the subject that we intended to be in focus to be out of focus. DSLR these days can come with more than 50 focus points depending on the manufacturer, so you need to be fully aware of where your camera’s focus point is.

For example, a good rule of thumb while taking a portrait is to focus on the eye. However, if your focus point is set to anywhere else on the image, either by selecting a different spot or re-composing causes your focus point to change, your photo will be out of focus. There is no real fix for this after the fact. You will want to ensure that you have the right part of the image that you are intending to be in focus selected through your focus point selection.

Something else to keep in mind, you want to take advantage of using your AF mode (Auto Focus) as opposed to attempting manual focus. This will take away the guess work and let the camera do what it needs to.

One other reason to be aware of, is your aperture setting. If we are intending to shoot ‘wide open’, or at the apertures lowest number (let’s say a 50mm lens f/1.8) we could risk the depth of field being too shallow, causing part of our subject to be out of focus unintentionally. To learn more about the role of aperture in your photography, read this article here.

blurry photos

Notice that the front pile of lava rock is clearly out of focus but the back pile is in clear focus. 

Blurry Photos

Here the front pile of lava rock has been selected as the subject to be in focus and the background is not. 

Your Subject is in Motion

Let’s use the example of a moving train. Artistically, some photographers will intentionally slow down their shutter to capture the effect of motion in the photo while other parts of the photo appear sharp, and in focus. However, if you are not intentionally utilizing this method to achieve something similar, it would be an undesired look to your photo.

Often, taking photos of children can cause blur if your shutter is not raised to a faster shutter speed.  This can be especially challenging when we are taking photos at night, or late evening, as we want to make sure that enough light is getting through the lens, and onto the cameras sensor.

You will want to make sure that your shutter speed is set high enough, to prevent capturing motion from your subject. If you are shooting indoors, or at night, you may need to increase your ISO setting, or employ the use of a speedlite.

Blurry Photos

Notice the focus is not crisp as the child is running. 

Camera Shake

Similar to your subject being in motion, is also the chance that your camera could move when taking a picture and resulting in a blurry photo. One of the best scenarios to understand this, is shooting in late evening light, using slower shutter speeds. Even depressing the shutter release button could cause unintended blur in your photo.

One way to handle this, just as in the previous case, is to use a higher ISO setting so that you can raise your shutter speed. It is also recommended that if you are not using a tripod, to brace the camera as close to your body as possible while composing the sot through the viewfinder. This will prevent a lot of motion that comes from naturally holding the camera out in front of you.

Keep your elbows in towards you (I like to call this T-Rex arms) and hold the camera steadily while you peer through the viewfinder at your subject.

You may also want to utilize your surroundings and lean firmly against a firmly set structure, like a lamp post, side of a building or anything else that you could use to prevent your camera from moving while you are taking your photos.

Blurry Photos

Depth Of Field

One other reason to be aware of, is your aperture setting. If we are intending to shoot ‘wide open’, or at the apertures lowest number (let’s say a 50mm lens f/1.8) we could risk the depth of field being too shallow, causing part of our subject to be out of focus unintentionally. To learn more about the role of aperture in your photography, read this article here.

Of course, your depth of field is essential to make your photos stand out from the pack, so this is not to say that you should NOT shoot wide open. In fact, this is crucial to master especially if you are looking to shoot wedding photography, portraits, and newborn photos.

However, our photos can fall short of what we are looking for if we are not careful with out aperture settings.

To give you some context, let’s say that you are wanting to take a landscape photo of a mountain range, and are wanting all those nice little details to stand out including the sky. In this instance, you would want to use a higher aperture, or f-stop number, like f/11 to f/16 to get the whole photo in focus.

But let’s say that you are doing some portraits for a family during the fall, and while you want to get the color from all the warm tones around, you’d like to get that nice smooth bokeh background behind the family. In this case, you would want to shoot with a lower aperture number that would still get everyone in focus, but blur out the background for the desired portrait effect. Speaking of taking family photos, you need to read this article here if you are serious about taking your photo skills to the next level.

Here’s a quick video from Cole on how to fix blurry photos!

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel

Conclusion

And there you have it, thefour main reasons that photos become blurry, and guidance on how to correct them. The great news, is that you are now one step closer to mastering your photography!

Stay Classy Classmates!

Jay