I’m sure that everyone can think of a time when their photos have come out blurry as a result of “camera shake.” Camera shake happens when the shutter speed isn’t fast enough, and small movements from the photographer’s hands cause the lens to move slightly while the shutter is still open.
One thing that will help is to set your shutter speed equal to or faster than the focal length of the lens you’re using. So with a 100mm lens you should use at least a 1/100th of a second shutter speed to eliminate camera shake.
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The reason for this is because as the lens magnifies your subject, it also magnifies any vibrations coming from your camera.
If flash is not an option and you are shooting in a low-lit area, your shutter will need to be open longer. . . which increases the risk of camera shake. Whenever you find yourself in this situation, try a few of the following techniques:
Use the widest aperture available
The aperture of a camera is the opening inside of the lens that lets the light in. The wider you can make this opening, the better, because letting in more light through the aperture will allow you to use a faster shutter speed.
Remember, the lower your aperture number is, the wider the opening inside of the lens is. (For example, f/2.8 is a wider opening than f/8.)
Select a higher ISO value
The ISO setting on your camera is the camera’s sensitivity to light. If you choose a higher ISO setting you will be able to use a faster shutter speed and/or a higher aperture value. However, the greater the ISO setting you select, the grainier your photo will become.
This graininess in your photographs is known as “noise” which is basically small distortions of the true image. The higher the ISO the greater the noise will be, so select your ISO setting carefully.
Set your camera on something
Anytime you can set your camera down on something steady, you’ll find it much easier to get great images. If your camera is stable, you can take pictures using slower shutter speeds without having to worry about blur.
If you must hold your camera, it’s a good idea to set your feet shoulder-width or wider, and try to make yourself like a tripod. Another option is to lean up against something and brace your body that way. And when you’re shooting, tuck your elbow close against your body to add even more stability.
Control your breathing
This technique is stolen from marksmanship, but it works just as well in photography. When you breathe you are moving ever-so-slightly, and moving your camera as well. . . even if it doesn’t feel like you are.
An easy way to reduce breathing movement is to breathe in, exhale, then at the end of the exhale hold your breath and take the photo. This is a really simple way to reduce shake in low-lit conditions.
So the next time you’re in a low-light situation, try one of these five techniques. With any luck, you should be able to drastically improve the quality of your photos—and perhaps avoid camera shake (and blurry photos) completely.
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