Got the Shakes? Tips for avoiding blur when using your digital camera.

Got the shakes? Don’t confuse out-of-focus blur with artistic blur when shooting with your digital camera.  Artistic blur can be quite pleasing especially when shooting action photos.  Panning while shooting sports or street scenes can yield some highly dramatic shots, but blur, due to a poorly focused camera, is not acceptable; it’s simply bad photography.

Tips for setting your camera under LOW LIGHT conditions!

Do you like shooting sunrises?  Sunsets?  In the bush shots?  Nighttime events?  Concert hall shots?  Due to the camera’s need to open the aperture and slow down the shutter speed, under low-light conditions, blur is unavoidable if you are hand-holding your camera.  Here are some tips to help you achieve better photos.

Tip #1: Get your camera out of your hand.  If you don’t have a tripod then “jam” your camera down onto something like a bean bag or a balloon filled with sand.   Set it on a fence railing or a flat rock, anything, just to get it out of your hand.  Then use your self-timer.  Select the option in your camera’s drive menu, focus your camera with a half push on the shutter button, and then a full push to activate the self-timer.  By the time your camera takes the picture, it will be perfectly still.

Tip #2: Hate carrying around that cumbersome metal tripod?  Try a mono-pod, or better still, a cool twistable tripod called a, “Gorillapod,” or a “Bottle Cap” tripod.   The Gorillapod is an ingenious device that allows a photographer to twist the bendable legs onto any surface, like a tree or fence post.  While it’s not strong enough to hold a very large camera with heavy battery pack, it is perfect for most other digital cameras.  The Bottle Cap tripod, on the other hand, uses a simple pop bottle as a stand.  Here’s a great review on both devices.

Tip #3: Change your ISO.  This is your digital camera’s “film” speed.  Of course, you don’t have any film, but this is the digital equivalent of old-fashioned film speeds.  Set your ISO to 50 or 100 in bright daylight, but opt for larger (faster) speeds like 400 or 800 in low-light conditions.

Tip #4: Slow down your camera’s shutter speed, after placing your camera on a tripod or a firm level surface.  Select “shutter priority” and then allow your camera to automatically set the camera’s aperture opening.

Tip #5: Open your camera’s aperture wider using a SMALLER F-stop number (remember the smaller the number, the wider the opening).  Opt for “aperture priority,” set your F-stop, and allow your camera to automatically set the shutter speed.

Tip #6: Choose one of your camera’s scene modes like sunset, or night scene which is normally represented by a crescent moon with a star icon.  The camera will set all the necessary parameters, but you must still jam the camera or set it on a tripod.


Modern day digital cameras are very clever with all their bells and whistles, but a photographer is still better off making some decisions on his or her own.  Remember the issue of digital lag?  The more the camera must decide, while in AUTO mode, the slower the camera’s response will be.

In addition, some things never change.  People shake!  No one can hand-hold a camera in low light, and expect in-focus shots.  A tripod was a must with film cameras and it is still a must for digital cameras.  And with the advent of clever devices like the Gorillapod and the Bottle Cap Tripod, there is no excuse not to have clear well-focused shots under lowlight conditions.

P.S. If you aren’t using another clever device called photo management software, you are missing the boat.  PicaJet will assist you in locating a specific digital photograph weeks, if not years later.  Give this award-winning software a try.

Sheree Zielke

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