Tiger's Crest Photography
Many individuals use their DSLR with the preset and automatic modes activated and do not understand why they get blurry images, especially when shooting indoors or in low light settings. It is important to understand that DSLR cameras do not work the same way that point-and-shoot cameras work. Event the automatic settings of the DSLR cameras are designed to be used with some anticipation that you understand the automatically selected settings. That maybe why when you shoot with a point-and-shoot camera, you do not necessarily see the shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings displayed DSLR cameras display those settings. Pay attention and make sure you understand what they mean and how each effects the photo you are about to produce.
Auto Focus Settings
The DSLR cameras come with the automatic focus point selection activated. I like the initiative and really appreciate the capabilities of modern technology but I do not think the camera is capable of reading your mind as to which part of the frame to focus on. Turn off the auto focus point selection option, set it on the middle point of the camera. This way you know exactly what will be in focus. Point the middle dot on the area you want to focus on, half press the shutter release button, move to the desired frame and shoot.
I rarely use the multi-point automatic focus feature on the camera. 99% of the time they focus on an item that is the closest to the camera and usually that’s not always what I want to do. It is a really good way to mess up your landscape photos or have a portrait where the focus is on the shoulder and not the eyes!
Often people continue using other automatic settings on the camera without understanding the drawbacks. The [Auto} or usually [P] setting of the camera is really a bad choice, especially when shooting indoors or outdoors at low light (in the evening or at night). The automatic setting of the camera sets the stutter speed, aperture and often the ISO in relation to one another to give you a “well lit” image. This means that you might be shooting at a really slow shutter speed. When shooting without a tripod and the Automatic settings give you a shutter-speed lower than 1/80 I really recommend switching to a manual or part manual mode where you can set the shutter speed to 1/100 or faster to avoid noticeable camera shaking and a blurry image.
Tripod and other Support
If you are shooting at low lights and you are shooting people, a tripod may of little to no help (control your shutter speed as described above). However, if you are shooting landscape and architectural scenes, a tripod is a great tool to use. I would never shoot without a tripod at night. At night shoots my shutter speeds vary anywhere from 1 second to the max of my camera’s 30 seconds. Anything slower than 1/80 of a second is not something to be used without a tripod.
Sometimes when it is not too dark but there not enough light, you can try to firmly hold your camera, make sure your elbows are leaning against your body to mimic the stability you get with a tripod. Waving your camera in the air is just not going to work when it dark!