My Tripod is Broken (Hint, no it’s not)

One of the key reasons we use a tripod is because we need to shoot with a long exposure which we cannot hand hold. But sometimes we still can’t seem to get a sharp photo. Here are a few tips that might affect the sharpness of your photos.

woman with tripod1. Tripod Head

The first consideration is the head and the tripod itself. Do you have a sturdy tripod with a sturdy head? If it costs less than $50 new, it’s probably not stable enough. You also need to make sure that the head is rated for the amount of weight you put on it.

2. Camera Mount

Is the camera firmly mounted on the tripod? Very often photographers do not tighten their camera enough to the tripod head or quick release plate. Make sure your camera is firmly mounted.

3. Image Stabilization

Another reason may be your image stabilization. One of the best technological advances in photography is the advent of image stabilization (aka vibration reduction). This technology allows us to take handheld pictures at slower shutter speeds without blur from our own hand movement. However, if you have your camera mounted on a tripod, you MUST turn off your stabilization system. If the camera does not detect motion, it will create motion.

winter photographer tripod

4. Environment

Environmental factors can also cause havoc. Are you on firm ground? Many streets and sidewalks in cities do not provide a solid surface for long exposures due to underground subways or road traffic.  Balconies are also problematic as they often have some give; if someone walks next to you while you take a long exposure it will vibrate the camera. If you are on dirt, make sure to push your tripod all the way into the ground until it stops. If you don’t have a very sturdy tripod the slightest breeze can also cause the camera to move.

5. Photographer

Another cause of blurry photos while using a tripod is you. The simple act of pushing the button may cause the camera to move. To resolve this problem you can use the self-timer function on your camera, a cable release or a wireless release button.

man with tripod

An obvious cause that is often overlooked is you! Yes, you! Are you touching the tripod? Very often we find that people are leaning or holding onto their tripod which means you are moving it. Step away from it and let the camera do its thing.

6. Subject

The last cause may be the object you are photographing. Look closely to see whether or not it’s moving. Buildings sway, clouds move, as do bridges and other seemingly solid objects. The longer your shutter speed, the more likely you will see blur.

These are just a few items that may affect the sharpness of your photos. I hope you found this article helpful.

by Liz from New York City Photo Safari 

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