8 Tips to get Sharp Pictures
Hello from Spain!
I’m so happy to be able to share in this article some things I’ve learned about photography from this side of the world!
When we decided to do photography as a business, I remember looking at many many many photography blogs for inspiration. There were two things that got my attention the most: color and sharpness. Bright colored photographs with tack sharp subjects. Subjects that “popped” from a beautiful creamy background. In developing my style, I wanted that to be a part of my photography. I knew a lot about shooting manual, but for some reason I could not get that amazing sharpness that I kept seeing all over the internet. It became one of my main focuses and I began to google, read books, and practice to achieve what I wanted. Soon I was able to see the results! I loved zooming all the way on the eyes of the subject when editing pictures and seeing perfect focused eye lashes. Here is what helped me the most to accomplish it! If you have more tips, I would love to hear it!
1. Choose the right lens. I started photography using zoom lenses. They were just comfortable and convenient to me. I didn’t have to move around a lot during sessions, especially for children photography. After a lot of research, I soon found out that prime lenses could give me sharper images. It meant I had to move around more during photo sessions, but I didn’t mind giving up comfort to obtain sharper images. I bought a Canon 50mm 1.4 to start with. Boy did I see a change! Being able to shoot pictures wide open to get an amazing bokeh and seeing that the eye lashes were still tack sharp was amazing! There are many wonderful zoom lenses that can give you perfectly sharp images too, but as a personal preference and after trying some zoom lenses, I personally prefer using prime lenses. If you are still wanting to use zoom lenses, I suggest you to use the 24-70mm 2.8 and the 70-300mm 2.8. My dream lens is the 85mm 1.2! But I use my 50mm 1.4 90% of the time and my 28mm 1.8 for specific effects (like the picture in the middle of a road in Madrid city). My 28mm doesn’t give me the creamy background I like, but I love the effect it makes with the background for portraits. If you don’t want to make an investment without trying a lens first, you can rent one! I did this to try the zoom lenses I needed for wedding photography.
2. Focus on the eyes. When I’m doing a photo session, I make sure I focus on the eye of the subject. If, for example, the subject is posing in a way that his head is closer to the camera than his legs and I just focus on his legs, the face won’t be as focused. So it’s very important to always focus on the eyes, unless you are trying to accomplish a different effect.
3. When you have trouble focusing, use the center focal point. Sometimes it can be hard for the camera to focus, like when there is low light or when the sun is in front of you. Using the center focal point will be more effective since it’s the strongest one. You can either switch focal points as you take pictures or use the center focal point and recompose. I personally like using the center focal point and recomposing and it’s how I’ve obtained fewer blurry images. But I suggest you to try yourself and compare results.
4. Make sure the camera shutter speed is fast enough. I do a lot of family and children photo sessions and I love taking pictures of families tickling each other, hugging, laughing, playing, jumping… So I never shoot at a shutter speed slower than 1/250. If I’m taking pictures of a person that can stand still, I might shoot at 1/125. But the faster the speed, the more you will avoid blurry images if the subject moves. If the kids are running or jumping, I would suggest to use a speed faster than 1/250. I’ve heard many photographers say they are able to shoot portraits at 1/60 with no problems though! But I always stick to 1/125 or 1/250 to avoid surprises 🙂
5. Don’t take pictures at the maximum aperture of your lens. If your lens can open at a maximum of 1.4, set your aperture at 1.8 or 2.2. I personally like setting the aperture at 2.8 to have a larger focal distance in case the subject moves, especially for close ups when photographing children. But I love the effect and creamy background when I set the aperture at 1.2 or 1.4 and how the eyes pop. It’s a matter of practice and trying different ways! Don’t forget if you are taking group pictures, it is best to set it at a closer aperture like f8 or f11 or even more, depending on how many people are in the group, to make sure they all are focused, especially if there are some of them standing at a different focal distance from the others.
6. Focus before every picture. I take a lot of pictures of each pose. If I don’t focus right before every single time I push the shutter, and the camera or I accidentally focus wrong, then all the images for that pose will be blurry.
7. Light. Learn all you can about lighting. I’ve found it does make a difference too!
8. Back Button Focus. I personally do not use this tool, but I have heard wonderful things and would love to start using it soon!
Thank you for reading this article! These changes made a big difference in my pictures and I hope it can be helpful to you! I strongly suggest you to try and practice and find what works best for you!
Have a wonderful day!
JoyandJames Sumpter says
Love that your article was posted! Great tips! I’m always studying up on better focus techniques..thx
Lou Ann Keiser says
Enjoyed seeing your pictures and reading about your ideas. Congratulations on your article!
I just started using back button focus rather than focus and recompose. It definitely takes some getting used to and re-training your brain but I think I like it better. It seems to keep me more accurate. I use primarily zoom lenses though so I’m not sure how it works for primes. I need to rent a good one and find out 🙂