I just thought this may help some folks. I had promised myself that I would not write camera operation tutorials, but I guess I have changed my mind. All of them are based on my experience and learning as a retired, and still learning, full time photographer. So here goes my first one, hope you enjoy it.
First and foremost read the instruction manual that came with the camera. Nothing will improve your photographs like reading your manual and asking questions. I am retired and somewhat disabled, and no longer employed as a photographer. I love questions, they help me learn, there is no such thing as a stupid one, so please feel free to ask away. (email@example.com)
This tutorial is aimed at the beginning point-and-shoot photographer. Beginning DSLR photographers may get something out of hints and secrets.
A well focused photograph is clear and crisp in the areas that are important to tell the story you want to in the photograph. This means that certain areas in a photograph can be out-of-focus because you as the photographer have decided to make them out-of-focus.
There are several reasons why photographs are blurred, and out-of-focus. An out-of-focus photograph that is caused by camera movement is blurred all over, and nothing is crisp and clear.
1: Camera movement. (Covered in this tutorial.)
2: Subject Movement. (Covered in a different tutorial.)
3: Depth of field selection. (Covered in a different tutorial.)
4: Long shutter speed. (Covered in a different tutorial.)
5: Using the wrong focus mode, Macro, Landscape. (Covered in a different tutorial.)
6: Photographers choice. (Covered in a different tutorial.)
Example: This photograph was taken on my recent trip. Since I was in such a hurry because people were walking between me and the subject I did not take time for the camera to focus.
If a picture shows blur and is out of focus all over the entire photograph, then more than likely the camera was moved, shaken or not allowed to focus properly. When the shutter button is press it opens the camera’s shutter and it starts recording the picture, any movement will be recorded as a blur on the entire photograph, (Exception panning to stop action of a moving object, covered in another tutorial.). The camera must be kept perfectly still during this period, if it is moved you get a messy blur, like the example above..
1: I always use a tripod, whenever posible. This will dramatically reduce the number of blurred photographs you take. Tripods can cost from 10 USD to thousands of dollars. They vary in weight and ability to stop camera shake. I have found a well constructed metal one works well. I also have carbon fiber one that is light and easy to use. My studio one weighs 12 pounds. It is up to you how much weight you want to carry. I still cannot believe how much two pounds can weigh on the way up a mountain. The head (Camera holder on top of the tripod.) should have good movement up and down, and rotation. If you can afford one with an attachment that comes off the head and attaches to the camera for easy mounting on and off the camera to tripod, get one. The tripod should at least come up to your shoulder height, better eye height. (Look at these places to study tripods, B&H, Adorama, BeachCamera) (Sidebar, I am not funded or reimbursed by any vendor, but have found these folks to be honest and reliable suppliers of photographic equipment. Adorama has a woderful training video area that is free.) (This is not a rule, because I hate rules, but, ALWAYS USE A TRIPOD, LOL.)
2: If no tripod is available, (Many places will no longer allow you to use one, just some bureaucratic stupidity. Sorry for the rant.), you can use a monopod which is a one leg tripod. Much like a walking stick, it expands and has a camera head on it. These are hard to get use to and do not work as well as tripods, but are far superior to hand held. (Look at these places to study monopods,B&H, Adorama, BeachCamera)
Secret: I tie a strap on my monopod and put it around my neck. When pulled tight I open my legs to sholder length and have a nice tripod.
3: Hand held: this is the least efective of the three, but if you must shoot hand held then you can use these tips. If you look at most people when they shoot hand held their elbows are flying around like a wounded chicken’s wings. First pull those elbows streight down and as close to your sides as possible, and then lock them there. Brace the camera with the palm of your left hand, and gently push the shutter HALF WAY with your index finger of the right hand. This allows the camera to focus lock on your subject. If you do not wait for the camera to focus lock and push the shutter release all the way down, then the camera will pause and wait for focus, and then the shutter fires and any movement will blur your photo. Most digital and film cameras have a focused lock indication in the viewfinder, or a light that turns on or beeps when the camera is focus locked. Slowly and gently push the shutter button the rest of the way to complete the exposure. If you can possibly set your camera on a table, fence, wall, anything to support it or lean against a wall, tree, fence yourself, this will greatly improve your keepers.
Note: Once the auto focus indicator comes on you can hold down the shutter button half way you can move the focus area off of the subject and it will continue to be in focus as long as the button is held half way down.
Most cameras today when shooting in the auto focus mode send out a signal from the camera to the subject to measure where to focus. It is located on the front of the camera do not block it with your fingers, or your camera will not focus.
Most cameras have a hard time focusing in low light. some have a focusing lamp to assist the focus, it is also located on the front of the camera. Do not block this with your hands.
Secret: I often use the auto timer to take the picture especially for stills and landscapes. Set the auto timer, focus and compose the picture, push the shutter button and two seconds later click goes the shutter, no shake.)
Thanks for reading, I really hope this helps your photography.
Let the light in. Have a blast photographing everything, Walt.
Any questions, adds or found errors are more than welcome. (firstname.lastname@example.org)