Photography Tutorial

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Bad Photos

Fishermen in the harbour of Molyvos in Lesbos in Greece

Picture 1. Some fishermen near the harbor of Molyvos on the island of Lesbos in Greece. The photo might look ok here but it looks bad when viewed in bigger size.

12.01.2008 Category: Photography
Picture 1 was taken in Greece on the Island of Lesbos in the town of Molyvos. It was late and me and my wife were heading back to our hotel. It was very dark and the harbor was quiet. However, we noticed a lone fishing boat working on its last capture of the day. I thought it would make an interesting subject for a photograph. I saw a photogenic view and photographed it but unfortunately the result is not of high quality. Picture 1 might look ok when viewed in the Web in small size but it's not possible to make a high quality print of it because the original photo is blurry due to a camera shake.

Taking the Photo

I was naturally concerned about the illumination. I thought that maybe the evening is too dark to make a decent capture. The view was beautiful so I had to try. I focused my camera and took the shot handheld with the following settings:

Mistakes Cause Bad Photos

There is a rule of thumb in photography which says that if my focal length is X, the slowest shutter speed I can use to take sharp photos handheld is 1/X. (Check Wikipedia for more detailed information about the shutter speed rule). I should have used 1/35 sec or faster shutter speed to take a sharp photo. My 1/4 sec shutter speed was way too slow to capture a sharp photo handheld.

Photo Could Have Been Better

I knew that the photo I took wasn't sharp. I am experienced enough to know that there are several things I could have done to improve the shot. However, it was late and I was in a hurry so I settled with the obviously bad photo. I thought about my mistakes for 15 minutes and decided to retake the photo. I hurried back only to notice that the boat and the dramatic sky were gone. There was nothing I could do. I had managed to blow the opportunity and ended up with a seriously blurry photograph.

Getting it right

The aperture of the lens was wide open (f/4.5) so I couldn’t have done anything about that. However, there are two things I could’ve done. I could and should have raised the ISO speed so that I could have used a faster shutter speed. The noise level would have still have been acceptable and I would have gotten clearly better sharpness to my photograph. Even better solution would have been to use a tripod. I actually had a table top tripod with me but for some reason I forgot to use it. I was reckless and now I have a bad photo which is only suitable to Web in very small size. I hope that I at least learned something from my mistakes.