The title is a bit of showmanship. The “secret” won’t be surprising to you. The way to go about it might hold some surprises. Whether you use a digital SLR or a simple camera phone, the steps I talk about below will help in getting sharper images.
The way to get sharp photos is a three step process.
- Hold the Camera Steady
- Focus, Focus, Focus
- Proper Exposure
1. Hold the Camera Steady. This is the reason for most blurry photos since the dawn of photography. I’ve always had a steady hand and have been successful at getting sharp photos hand-held down to 1/15th of a second. Last year, I learned a new technique which has allowed me to get some as slow as 1/4th of a second. Below, is a 7 1/2 minute video by National Geographic photographer, Joe McNally, about the technique he calls, “Da Grip”.
If you need rock still, a tripod and remote shutter release is a must. I don’t use a tripod often unless I know I will be needing multi-second shutter times like for fireworks, waterfalls or night photography. I do find the image stabilized lenses made today have greatly helped me in getting sharp hand-held photos. Along with using tehniques like Joe McNally’s Da Grip.
2. Focus, Focus, Focus. Focus is extremely important whether you want to selectively focus on one element in the frame shooting with wide open apertures or put everything in focus from front to back using apertures like f/16 or f/22. Understand how your camera focuses. Some cameras have up to 51 focus points while others have only 5 or less. If you have not reviewed it in awhile, this is a good time to pull out your camera’s manual (you do know where it is, right?) and read up on your camera’s focusing capabilities.
3. Proper Exposure. Getting the proper aperture (f-stop), shutter speed and ISO is critical and keeps post processing to a minimum. The less you have to tweak a digital image, the clearer it will look. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend getting the book, “Understanding Exposure” by Bryan Peterson. I read this book every year to remind me it’s not about what the camera can do but what the photographer does to make great pictures.