Blurry Pictures – Tips from Saint John Photographer Miranda O’Leary

Saint John PhotographerTips from Saint John Photographer Miranda O’Leary on How to Avoid Blurry Photos

Blurry pictures can be a caused by a few issues:
•    camera movement
•    too low of a shutter speed
•    out of focus

This is a general overview of shutter speeds that you may find helpful to avoid taking blurry photos. All situations are different, but, these are safe numbers to go from.

Blurry Pictures – Shooter Movement

For issues when dealing with camera movement caused by the shooter moving it can be easily corrected with a tripod.  If you have a steady hand most shooters can hand hold a camera at 1/60 shutter speed and have no issues as long as the subject you’re shooting is pretty still. If you set your shutter speed any lower then 1/60 using hand held, you will more then likely see blurriness in your photos.  If you don’t have a tripod available you can always lean against a wall to keep your hands more still.  I always sturdy my feet, take deep breath, then breath out a little and press the shutter. The camera movement can be that sensitive that even a breath can throw it off. Check your manual to see if you have Image Stabilization built into your camera.  It can also be helpful in dealing with these issues (Note: this is not ideal for fast subject moving subjects).

Here is a sample or me hand holding my camera at 1/4 shutter and at 1/60 shutter.

Blurry Pictures – Subject Movement

If you have a subject that is moving, a child for example, they can move around very fast. You’re looking for memories and a blurry shot is not one you will want to treasure forever.  It varies depending on your light source, but I usually photograph kids around 1/125 shutter speed or higher.  Hand held is good at this speed and I can run after the kids and catch all their action.

During faster action, such as dancing or sports, the shutter speed needs to be set even higher to be able to freeze the fast motion. I would suggest 1/250 shutter speed or higher. Here is an example of my daughter playing the piano. I took one at 1/60 shutter she was playing fast and you can see some blur, I asked her to play fast again but put my settings to 1/250 shutter to freeze her motion more.

Blurry Pictures – Focus

Blurry photos sometimes result from missing the focus.  This happens all the time to people. The camera needs to see some light or an area of contrast for the auto focus to work properly on your camera. You will see missed focus a lot when your shooting in low lit areas.  You may want to attempt manual focus, or start pre-focusing.  Basically you aim your camera viewfinder at the exact center of your frame at the part of the subject you want to focus on. Hit your shutter button down half way and then you can move your camera over or to do the placement or composition you want your portrait to look. Once your ready push the shutter down the rest of the way and take your picture. Below I missed the focus and then tried again with holding down the shutter half way then once it focused I moved my camera over a bit.  Her hands were off to the side in the composition but it still held it’s focus, then I pressed the shutter all the way.

Blurry Pictures – Use Flash

Another great tool you can use to freeze movement is your flash. Don’t be scared to use your flash when you are having trouble freezing movement. It’s not always possible to use a flash so hopefully these guidelines will help you a bit when your faced with faster paces. This  was taken at 1/60 with the flash to freeze her movement.

non blurry photo / blurry picture - piano using flash

I wanted to help you out a bit with understanding how shutter speed works and how you can move it around to work better for you when shooting in different conditions…and how to prevent those disappointing blurry pictures from creeping into your home photo shoots!

Hopefully you grabbed something out of this that will be helpful for you.  :)

If you have something special you want to capture for posterity…something you want to make sure to get some great shots, give me a call and I’ll make sure to avoid those blurry photos…I promise :-)


Leave a Comment