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4 Days to Sharper Photos: Depth of Field and Shutter Speed

Sharper photos won’t just happen.  Hopefully you have spent some time learning a little more about your camera and how it focuses.  Hopefully you’ve realized that manual focus is NOT the key to sharper photos.  

This post is going to focus on Depth of Field/Aperture and Shutter Speed and how they can help you get sharper photos.

Depth of Field

Depth of Field is quite simply the amount of your photo between you and the furthest you can see that is in focus.  Sometimes people think that their photo isn’t sharp a because it isn’t properly focused when in reality SOMETHING is in proper focus.  

Having a shallow depth of field means that a small portion of your photo is in focus while other things in your photo are out of focus.  Shallow depth of field is great because it helps force your viewer to focus on what is in focus and ignore what isn’t.  Shallow depth of field ISN’T great is when you have focused on the wrong thing or kept your depth of field so shallow that only part of what you want in focus is actually in focus.

Depth of field is determined by the aperture you choose and how close you are to your subject. An open aperture of f/1.4 will allow for very little between you and the furthest you can see to be in focus.  As your aperture numbers get bigger, more of your scene will come into focus.  Make sure that you have chosen an aperture that will allow what you want to be the subject of your photo to be in focus.

Depth of field is also determined by how close you are to your subject.  The further away you are from your subject, the more depth of field you’ll have than at the same aperture and very close to your subject.

If you want more elements in your photo to be in focus then raise your aperture number or move further from your subject--or maybe do both!

Shutter Speed

Another factor that contributes to blurry photos is having your shutter speed set too low for the subject you are shooting.  Shutter speed is the part of the exposure triangle that will help you freeze motion.  If you are photographing a moving subject or a subject that moves erratically then you need to have a fast shutter speed that will capture them without blur.  Shutter speeds of 1/500th of a second or faster will help to freeze most action that you will photograph through your viewfinder.

A fast shutter speed doesn’t mean that you don’t need to pay attention to the other factors affecting sharp photos it will just help to freeze action that you are trying to capture.  You still need to miss nail your focus and have an aperture set to accommodate the action taking place.

Having a faster shutter speed will also help if you have a difficult time holding the camera still.

Hope this helps you get sharper photos!


For the Other Posts in This Series:

4 Days to Sharper Photos: Getting Sharper Photos In Camera

4 Days to Sharper Photos: Depth of Field and Shutter Speed

4 Days to Sharper Photos: Good Light and Good Lenses

4 Days to Sharper Photos: Sharpening in Lightroom

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