TutorPics – Hand-held Motion Blurring

hand held motion blurring

TutorPics – Learning Camera Skills from our BAD pictures


This image was hand-held in bright sunlight with a 250mm lens.

Shooting Notes:

• The bird looks fairly sharp until you zoom on it all the way.  The background blurring is understandable, given the length of the lens (250mm) coupled with the distance from the subject, even though the aperture isn’t at optimum for maximum DOF compression.

• The main problem here is blurring caused by the lens magnification.  When you magnify the subject, you also magnify all movements – whether by the subject, the camera, or both.  The rule for hand-held shots calls for a shutter speed of NOT LESS THAN 1/250th, but the shooter chose – or the camera’s metering chose – 1/200th instead:  Not fast enough to arrest the movement with “a thinner slice of time”.   The bottom line?  She should NOT return her new lens until she tries the same shot – either keeping her shutter speed well above (faster than) 1/250th.  What about using a tripod?  Great suggestion if it was a dead calm day, but any wind would have made a tripod irrelevant for this shot.

rockin robin cropEditing Notes:

• The image begs a major crop to make the subject more prominent, but the lack of sharpness remains.  The original image was about 3000 pixels wide.  That left us with only about 800 pixels on the long side for this cropped version.  To be clear:  Even shooting at the largest size that our cameras can produce has nothing to do with fixing a blurred image in post.  In fact, don’t look to any editor for a miracle sharpening cure.  Just to be thorough, I applied the powerful “high-pass filter” sharpening technique before uploading this cropped version.


TutorPics – Yellow Frog

TutorPics – Learning Camera Skills from our BAD pictures


This image was taken in aperture priority from a tripod inside a zoo building during the daytime.  Some bright light source has blown out highlights in the subject.  Blown highlights are areas that are “clipped” to pure white, and that lack detail of any kind.

Shooting Notes:

•  Clipping occured here in the brighter areas probably because the ISO setting (AKA “film speed” in film cameras) is way too high for a room lit with daylight like this one..  The ISO control can either be set on “auto” or locked into a fixed value, which is likely what happened here.

•  As for the light reflection on the glass, the tripod might have been moved… but the angle and background of the frog is good.   To keep that, the shooter might have tried  putting the camera on 2-second shutter delay, and taken those seconds to just step to the side enough to block the light source with his body.  One caveat on that idea:  If he can block the light fine, but the risk then is becoming a new reflection in the glass himself.  There’s a reason photographers tend to wear solid dark clothing!

Editing Notes:

• This image is a lost cause.  Levels or curves adjustments are the textbook remedies for overexposures, but not for blown highlights like those in the brightest areas of the glass and frog.   If the photographer had a better version he might be able to clone from there, but if he has a better version why bother?


This is one of those images that technology may be able to fix some day, but in the meantime it’s giving us a great reason to learn how to avoid the problems in the first place.