3 Tips for Avoiding Blurry Photos of Kids

Kids playing at a wedding
Kids playing at a wedding

We all love recording our kids growing years, which seem to pass all too quickly, but the results can be disappointing sometimes when our pictures come out blurry.

Sometimes it’s because we miss the focus point and get lovely sharp backgrounds with an out of focus offspring. Just make sure that the focus point doesn’t drift off of our main subject if he or she isn’t in the centre of the picture.

Mostly – it’s because we are using a shutter speed that is too slow for the amount of light available. Kiddies leap about all over the place, and it can be quite difficult to catch those golden moments sharply. So here are three tips that can help you capture sharp images.

Understanding Shutter Speed – A slow shutter speed means that anything moving within the picture could be blurry, so a fast shutter speed is needed.

 

1. Increase the ISO speed on the camera.

  • If indoors, try an ISO speed of 800 or above. Although it may result in unwanted noise effects in the picture, at least it will be sharper. And to be quite honest, unless you are making massive prints, it shouldn’t show too much.

 

2. Choose the right Mode.

  • Aperture priority automatic.
    If your camera or phone allows you more control of its settings, choose a larger aperture. This may be done by setting the camera on aperture priority automatic (shown as ‘A’ or ‘Av’ on your camera dial) and adjusting the aperture to one of the smaller numbers such as 2.8 or 4. This will have the effect of increasing the shutter speed. Be aware that it may still need an increase on the ISO settings to get a really high shutter speed in a dark room.
  • Shutter priority automatic.
    Alternatively, set the camera control dial to shutter speed priority (shown as ‘S’ or ‘Tv’ on your camera dial), and dial in a shutter speed of 125 or above. The camera will then alter the aperture and/or ISO speed to make sure that your picture is exposed correctly. The faster the shutter speed, the better the camera will be at freezing any motion.
  • Choose sport mode.
    Choosing the sport icon on you camera dial will make the camera use a higher shutter speed to help freeze any motion.
Camera Dial
The letters and icons on a Camera Mode Dial

 

3. Make better use of light.

The best way of increasing the shutter speed, would be to increase the available light. If indoors, open curtains, and turn on all the interior lighting. This may help enough, but you still may need to combine this with points one and two above.
If you camera has a built-in flash, turning it on will help to freeze any motion blurring. Whilst using on camera flash can be effective, there are some drawbacks to its use.

  • It can give unwanted ‘Red-Eye’ effect, where the light from the flash bounces back from the retinas of the subject and gives a spooky and evil-looking child! Some cameras have a red-eye setting for the flash which will help to cut this.
  • The range is often under 2 meters, so you need to be quite close to your subject.
  • The light can be harsh and unflattering.
  • The child may not like the flash of light.

By far the best way of making better use of the light, is to go outside and use natural daylight, there is plenty of it, it doesn’t need batteries and its free. Still remember to keep an eye on your shutter speed and try to keep it as high as possible.

 

Just spending a little time and thought on how you use your camera or phone, will help you capture those important moments of the childs formative years. And you will be proud to show everyone how good-looking your child is, and secretly knowing that the picture is sharp because you made sure that it was.

 

Graham Taylor

 

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