Sometimes, an artistic blur can be beautiful. However, if that wasn’t what you were going for, it can be disappointing. Low-quality lenses, shutter speeds that are too low, shaking hands… all of these can cause blurs. Find the root of the problem and correct it using our tips to stay in the clear!
Clean your lens!
Cleaning your lenses on a regular basis will help you take better photos. Automatic cameras and cell phones are no exception. Fingerprints can easily appear on devices that we carry in our bags without using a protective case. Wiping the lens quickly with a soft cloth before you take a photo won’t hurt!
Avoid the digital zoom function
Unlike when you use the optical zoom function, picture quality drops when you use the digital zoom function—to the point that it’ll blur your shot. Instead of actually zooming in, like an optical zoom does, the digital zoom re-frames the photo in full resolution by blowing up the central part of the image, making it drop from 10 megapixels to only 2 or 3.
In low light conditions, your camera will take longer to capture the light. During this time, you need to stay still! To do so, lean against a table or wall, or rest your elbows against your chest and hold your breath. The best thing to do is to mount your camera on a tripod and use the self-timer. If you’re taking a picture of someone, ask them not to move either. Whatever you lose in naturalness, you’ll gain in image quality!
Step back... a little
The temptation to get close to a subject is great, especially when you know the downside of using the digital zoom function. Be careful not to get too close though, as your camera will be unable to focus. Your best bet is to back up a bit and re-frame your photo later using an image editing software, like Picasa.
Double-check your photo
This may seem obvious, but nonetheless, you should preview your photo. That way, you’ll be able to assess the sharpness of the picture, and if need be, adjust your settings.
Correct it or live with it
You can correct a slight blur by using photo retouching software. Whether you use Photoshop, Gimp or Camera Raw, the command you want to use is usually under “Filter/Render/Sharpen.” You’ll then have to play with the “Gain” and “Threshold” settings and check your image. “Gain” will make your image look sharper, but also increase the noise (the “grainy” finish), while the “Threshold” will allow you to lower the noise. If your photo is completely blurry, it’ll be a waste of time to fiddle around with photo retouching software. You’ll just have to live with it, or insist on the beauty and romantic quality of an artistic blur...