Photographers | What's The Best Way To Avoid Blur?

A surfer, catching the late afternoon rays at Bells Beach, Australia.

Folks often ask me about ways to avoid blur. Assuming you've focused carefully and accurately on your subject you'd assume you'd be able to achieve a sharp result. 

Changing Aperture Or ISO To Avoid Blur

However, if subject (e.g., people, clouds or water) or camera movement results, during the process of tripping the camera's shutter, you could try to counteract it in your next exposure by opening the lens's aperture wider (e.g., f/4 instead of f/5.6 or f/8) or, alternatively, by increasing your camera's ISO.

Both options will have the effect of increasing the camera's Shutter Speed automatically on anything other than Manual Exposure. 

A whole in a wall acts as a frame onto a colorful detail in the La Boca tourist region of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Remember that the faster the Shutter Speed the less chance that movement, either camera or subject related, will have an adverse effect on your image.  

With the latest DSLR or Mirrorless cameras I think the decision to increase the ISO is more and more appealing. With an older DSLR camera (e.g., one released five years ago, or more) care should be taken as noise can be introduced at ISO's of 800 or higher.

I made the above image in the La Boca tourist precinct in Buenos Aires, Argentina. By setting my camera to ISO 1600 I was able to achieve a Shutter Speed of 1/15 second which was sufficient to make a sharp image of this colorful scene without the use of a tripod.

The mist swirls around a rock formation, acting as a silent sentinel, on Huangshan (i.e., Yellow Mountain) in Eastern China.

Employ Your Tripod To Avoid Blur

End of day was approaching when I made this photo on Huangshan (i.e., Yellow Mountain) in Eastern China. Actually it was my birthday, which makes the image especially important to me.

I closed my lens's aperture down to f/16 and set my camera to ISO 100 so as to achieve the relatively slow Shutter Speed of 1/6 second so as to blur the swirling mist in the scene. I employed my tripod to prevent camera shake while the slow Shutter Speed allowed me to record blur/movement selectively. I've long found the notion of blur within a sharp image to be a very poetic concept.

HDR - An Added Complication

Any noise associated with files tends to be amplified when they are combined into the single, composite image during HDR post processing.

To reduce the likelihood of this problem I'd be checking each file, at 100% magnification, for noise and applying noise reduction in Lightroom prior to combining the images into a single composite image within your HDR application of choice.

RAW Or JPEG - What’s Your Preference?

Under ideal circumstances you'd be working in RAW and moving the histogram as far to the right as possible, without letting anything other than specular (i.e., pure white) areas hitting the right hand edge of the histogram.

To do so it's usually best to lower your camera’s Shutter Speed as that won't interfere with the desired Depth Of Field (DOF).

Of course if you're not fully committed to processing all your RAW files on the desktop set your camera to JPEG and allow the camera to do a reasonable job of processing them for you.

In this case it's not about what's best, its about what's the most appropriate option for you. And for most folks, as they don't want to process images on the desktop, JPEF is the most appropriate option. 

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru