My photos are blurry HELP!

February 17, 2016

We have been playing in the snow and sledding a fair amount in the last few days.  It occurred to me how tough getting a good picture of my kids sledding down the hill can be.  As if getting a nice picture of your kid is not hard enough.  Let's add to the madness by making them come hurling at you and you have to dodge them and half a dozen other kids.  Then there is also the fact that you are freezing and probably have to take a glove off to take the picture.  Because of all this, let me provide you with several ideas to help you take better clearer pictures of your kids when they are moving, whether it be sledding or running to make a basket on the court.  These tips will be helpful anytime motion is involved.

Tip #1: You will need to leave auto mode.  I know that is a scary idea, so maybe take half in auto and the other half out of auto. When your camera is in auto mode it is doing all the thinking, not you.  You may have your eye on your kid sledding, but the camera decided the patch of grass showing through the snow was the focus and now your picture is blurry.

Tip #2: Use "s" mode or shutter speed (ss) for action shots.  This mode is available on point and shoot camera, you do not need a DSLR to learn about shutter speed. This mode allows your camera to do a fair amount of thinking, but leaves you in control of two things shutter speed and focal point.  Let's just deal with shutter speed for the moment.  The faster your object is moving the higher you want your shutter speed set at.  For example, if I have two adults sitting still I would shoot at 1/80, or with little kids sitting still I aim for 1/120.  Kids fidget and wiggle a ton, so you need to up your shutter speed to compensate.  Now if I am taking pictures of a bike race or a kid sledding I will try 1/500 to begin.  If you are getting nice results, try backing off and lowering the shutter speed.  The lower the shutter speed, the more light you will be able to let into your camera and the brighter the photo.

Tip #3: Where is your focal point?  Have you ever taken a picture and it looks great on your LCD, but then when you load it on the computer the tree next to your subject is crystal clear, but your subject is soft (blurry?)  That is probably because you let your camera pick the focal point.  Your camera can only focus on one spot. It is not possible for a lens to focus on two spots at the same time.  When you look through your viewfinder, you see a bunch of dots or small boxes. Those points show you where you are focused.  If you do not see those points check your manual to see how to turn them on.  This is critical information for you to have when picking a focus point.  This is another reason not to use auto mode.  Your camera will not let you change your focal points in auto mode.

Tip #4: Make yourself into a tripod or use a tripod.  Ideally you would use a tripod to eliminate your hand shake on the camera.  Lets be real for a moment.  I am not taking my kids sledding with a tripod.  So instead turn yourself into a tripod by tucking your elbows in tight next to you sides.  This will help minimize your hand shake and make the picture clearer.

Tip #5: Take lots of pictures!  I do not take six pictures and hope they come out and neither should you.  Have you ever noticed when you have your pictures taken by a professional they take hundreds of pictures, but you only see dozens?  That is because not every shot turn outs for anyone!  So the more pictures you take the more likely you will be able to get a shot like the one on the left instead of the one on the right!

Good luck and happy sledding!