with Courtney Slazinik
Make Your Blurry Photos Tack Sharp With 6 Simple Tips
Manual Mode
Make Your Blurry Photos Tack Sharp With 6 Simple Tips

Are you wondering why you have blurry photos?

This is a common question that many photographers run into. We start learning manual mode and then we can’t figure out why our images are blurry instead of tack sharp.

There are several reasons your photos are blurry. Check out the reasons below.

Why are my photos blurry?

Two children jumping into a pool. It is not a blurry photo because the shutter speed was high enough to catch the motion.

Your shutter speed was too low

When photographing a moving subject or any person for that matter, you should keep your shutter speed above 1/125. I try not to let my shutter speed dip below that no matter who I’m shooting.

If you are photographing a fast moving toddler then I wouldn’t go below 1/250.

Photographing a running dog or child on a bike? Then I wouldn’t go below 1/500.

Be mindful of your shutter speed because if it is too low it creates a blurry image. You can also use a tripod if you have one handy or if you are working with macro photography.

Read more: 5 Tips for Freezing Motion in Photographs

You are shooting wide open

It’s so tempting when you get a lens that can shoot wide open at f/1.8 that you want to shoot there all the time. I recommend looking into either the 50mm 1.8 or the 35mm 1.8 if you want an affordable sharp lens.

I get it, you can get that blurry background you have been dreaming of.

However, if your aperture is too wide, then the focal point is so small and if your subject moves even slightly then your image will not be tack sharp.

A beautiful water fountain surrounded by gold and yellow flowers. The water in the background is blurry but the focal point of the flowers is tack sharp.

Plus, if you are photographing a portrait and your subject is facing the camera at an angle, if you are shooting wide open then one of the eyes may appear soft.

Stop down your aperture, I tend to keep mine around f/3.2, and you will immediately notice the difference. You will catch focus a lot more often and you will still get a beautiful blurred background.

Read more:
5 Reasons to Shoot in Manual Mode
Simple Guide to Understanding Aperture (and How to Use it)

You aren’t choosing your focal point

When shooting in manual mode you want to make sure that you are selecting your own focal point.

You should be using single focal point so you can decide exactly what you want to be in focus.

Remember that you can manually move your point and select exactly where you want your focus to fall. This is a very important step once you dive into composing beautiful photos.

Read more: Changing Your Focal Point

Your focal point fell on the wrong spot

When selecting your own focal point, the ideal place to put it is on your subject’s eye if you are photographing a person.

However, if the subject moves slightly your focal point may fall on their eye brow, ear, or hair. This could cause your image to look soft if the eyes are tack sharp.

The focus falls backwards so if you are taking a group picture, set your aperture appropriately and then focus on the eyes in the front.

Read more: 5 Ways to Create Catchlights

A child wearing purple glasses smiling at the camera. She has tack sharp eyes as the focus was placed to avoid a blurry photo.

You aren’t holding the camera correctly

Although cameras now have live view LCD screens where you can hold your camera out to view what you are photographing, this could cause some camera shake.

Instead, look through your view finder and lock your elbows. This will help you stabilize your camera for a sharper photo.

Or you could use a wall, lamp post, fence, anything to stabilize your body more!

Read more: Basic Photography Tips

You are using a poor quality lens

Ask any photographer and they will tell you that the quality of lens you have greatly affects the look of your images. The kit lens that comes with many DSLR cameras isn’t the highest quality of lenses.

Instead, you should purchase a lens like the ones mentioned early the 35mm or the Nifty 50 (50mm.)

Read more: Pet Photography: Focus and Lenses

A child wearing a pink bathing suit is walking on the beach out toward a bird.

Can you fix blurry photos?

The honest answer is …not always. Once it’s done, it’s pretty much done. There are some things you can do to try to enhance the photo to distract from the blurriness.

It SO important to try your best to get the shot right in camera first.

There are some post processing tips that could help the photo look less blurry by enhancing other things.

In reality I get blurry photos too, I am pretty sure every photographer does from time to time. But I challenge you to apply all of those 6 tips above and see how your blurry photos can become tack sharp. Also means less editing work for you!

Read more:
How Focus Stacking will Help You Create Sharper Photos

Child jumping on pink bed. Motion was caught by high shutter speed it is not a blurry photo even though there is movement.

Sharpen blurry photos

One tool I use in Lightroom that will help take away some of the blur is the sharpening tool.

In Lightroom, under the develop tab and then under the Detail Panel, you will see the sharpening tool. Play around with those settings and see if you are able to take away some of the blurry photo by sharpening it.

Lower the pixels

You might find that just making the image smaller will help make the blur not as noticeable. So when you are exporting, lower the PSI to around 1200.

This will help take away some blur but I don’t recommend printing a large, blurry photograph unless the blur was the intent hah!

Blurry photos are a thing of the past

Now that you know 6 super simple ways to help you get a tack sharp photo every time, what is stopping you?

You are very capable of shooting a photo and nailing the focus. But don’t worry if you somehow get another blurry photo, it happens to the best of us. Just keep shooting! You can tell blurry photos goodbye!

Read more tips on shooting sharp photos:
7 tips to take a sharp photo
Tips to achieve sharp focus
Back button focus: Do you BBF?

I have been wondering why my photos are blurry and now I know. Super easy to understand tips!
  • Suzi Owen
    April 19, 2017 at 6:21 PM

    Why, i was just saying that today…why are some of my photos blurry…low shutter speed, F/8. Why be late or in my case blurry. Low ISO… using manual and really need to learn more on setting creatively
    Th8s information was helpful and very easy to understand. Thanks Courtney

  • Mark Lemaster
    April 19, 2017 at 9:50 PM

    These are great tips. I would also consider using back button focus to the list as well. I do have a question though. I recently photographed some friends. It was taken in front of this gorgeous little waterfall. I wanted to motion blur the fall, so I kind of had to use the low shutter speed. Sadly, they did turn out more blurry than I like. It’s not super bad, but I find it very distracting. Aside from compositing the image, how would one account for that?

  • Yvonne
    April 20, 2017 at 7:34 PM

    Other things to consider are adjusting the diopter and calibrating your lenses. ;-)

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  • January 12, 2018 at 4:01 PM

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    August 31, 2018 at 2:45 AM

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