Crispy clear photos

Hello everyone.

Any help will be much appreciated. I did a shoot last week in a very shady area with sharp sunlight piercing through the trees here and there. I shot in M but the subjects were not able to make any movements when I was taking the photos as it would be blurred. When I transferred the photos to my laptop, I noticed that they aren't as crispy clear as I'd like them to be. I could not make the shutter speed any quicker or else it would have been too dark.

Any suggestions?


  • If you had to keep low shutter speeds, camera shake is a possibility, especially if your lens had no VR There's not much you can do about that in poor light except to crank up the ISO or to use a tripod or other steadying technique. If the problem is only a marginal one of a stop or two, you might consider a monopod or even something like a "chain pod." That latter is just a piece of string or chain attached to an eye bolt that screws into the camera's tripod socket. Long enough to trail on the ground, you let it fall, step on it, and then pull the camera up. The tension steadies the camera some.

    A really odd trick I learned years ago that's worth a stop or so is to hold the camera upside down, so the body is braced on your forehead. It looks really silly, and it takes a bit of practice to hit the shutter button, but it can help that little bit.

    A tripod is of course ideal if you can use it.

    It's also possible that in difficult light your focus was not hitting right. It may depend on what focus mode you were using, but low light can make focusing difficult, and auto area focus might be flummoxed by bright spots in a dark scene. If your lens has a manual override, check to see if that helps. If it's like the kit lenses you'll have to turn off AF to make manual adjustments, and that may be difficult to do well with the small DX viewfinder. If you're not needing to track motion, consider shifting to Live View, where you can zoom the finder image for finer focus adjustment.

    If you were in very difficult light, it's also possible that the lack of clarity is not a focus or movement issue, but bad lighting or flare. If the contrast between the shady spot and the dappled light is too much, the light areas will tend to blow out, and some of that may bleed into adjacent areas making the light areas look fuzzy, or if the light hits wrong, it can cause flare that cuts contrast.

    If you pixel peep the images you might be able to narrow it down. Focus problems will likely show some sharp area in the image, just not where you wanted it. Motion blur will show up as a fuzzing or ghosting of edges. In the case of lighting problems you should see good focus where you intended, but contrast will be poor, with dark areas looking clouded. Some of that can be addressed with software, but probably not all. If it's poor contrast and hazy looking, try finding some software that can address the curves and levels. You can spruce up contrast sometimes by narrowing the dynamic range, or directly adjusting the contrast. In some software you can move the gray point, which is the middle tonal value. If you need the shadows open for the subjects, you're limited, but sometimes you can get rid of some of the hazy appearance by clipping the shadows.

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