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Camera Shake

Avoiding Blurry Images Due to Camera Shake

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Blurry images are the bane of many photographers and often it can seem like a mystery as to why the image came out blurry. The most common cause for blurry images is camera shake.

Camera Shake
Camera shake means that during the exposure the camera moved. This movement can be very small and still create blurry images. There are four main causes of camera shake.

Holding the Camera Incorrectly
Camera shake can be reduced by holding your camera correctly. Whether you use a point-and-shoot or SLR camera, this hold is basically the same.
  • Hold the camera close to your body
  • Tuck your elbows in against the side of your body
  • Keep a firm but relaxed grip on the camera
  • Stand with your legs approximately a shoulder-width apart
The goal of these points is to stabilize your body and the camera so that the camera is as still as possible when shooting.

Common Technique Errors
There are some common mistakes during shooting that can increase camera shake. Avoid these common errors and your images will be much clearer.
  • Stabbing the shutter release button instead of pressing it
  • Moving the camera from you eye quickly after a shot instead of holding it at your eye a moment after the shutter is complete
Slow Shutter Speed
While slow shutter speed is generally necessary in night photography, it is a huge cause of blurry images. Slow shutter speed is generally considered the greater of 1/60 of a second or anything under the focal length of the lens. For example, if you are using a 300mm lens, a shutter speed of 1/300 of a second may still be too slow for a clear image. However, if you are using a 28mm lens, 1/60 of a second is considered slow. Slow shutter speeds are a problem because the human hand is not steady. Large lenses such as 300mm increase the weight on the hand and create shake. Using a high shutter speed decreases the amount of time of the exposure and the amount of shake that can be transferred to the film.

Unstable Support
Setting the camera on an unstable support for long exposure times is a very common cause of camera shake. While using a remote release is a great way to reduce shake from support issues, there are some supports that will never be stable.
  • Overextended Tripods
  • Vehicles That are Running
  • Boats and Floating Docks
  • A Friend's Back
Find a stable support, such as a soft backpack set on a flat rock, and use a remote release to overcome camera shake from unstable support.

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