Ever wonder why you got so many blurry photos in your phone? The reason is that you lost the sharpness of your photots. One thing that may reduce sharpness is movement.
Motion blur happens mostly if things move, when there isn’t enough light to freeze the movement. If a photo is blurry and the scene is bright, it is unlikely that movement is at fault. In bright sunshine, very few cameras have problems capturing rapid movements of things like sports, moving vehicles, dances or even airplanes. If you suspect motion blur, and you can change the light, try to make the scene brighter. However, often this is not an option, and you need to look for other solutions.
If your hands are not steady, that can cause motion blur. What one can try is to hold the phone against a steady object, like a wall, a fence or a rock.
If one holds the camera tight against something that doesn’t move, one eliminates any blur due to trembling hands.
Holding one edge against a wall may help, but the phone can still tilt, and that may cause motion blur. If possible, place the phone so two opposite edges are secured. One way of doing this is by pressing the phone against the corner of a wall, so the lens is over the corner, but most of the phone rests steadily against the wall.
Other ways of achieving this is to press the phone against a transparent (andclean) window, to press it against a hard grid or a fence with a hole, or to press it against an angle of two surfaces.
If your camera has a timer or a remote, you can arrange it in plenty of other positions. Set the phone to take a picture, when your hands do not touch it, and there will be no blur caused by shaking hands.
Here, the photographer uses some kind of remote control to take a photo of the glass and the wall.
When one doesn’t hold the camera in one’s hands, not only is the camera perfectly still, one can also get photos from really unusual angles.
One solution should be applied with caution: pressing the phone against glass.
Suppose you are in a dark aquarium. If you stand a meter away from a fish tank it is unlikely that you get a good photo. There will be reflections in the glass from things around you. The surrounding darkness will make the camera use a long shutter speed, which makes moving fish blurry. The fish may also be overexposed.
If you take the phone and press it gently against the glass, you will avoid reflections, the shutter speed will be adjusted to the light in the tank, and not the surrounding light, and the camera will not move at all. It will still be difficult to take photos of moving fish, but most fish have moments when they hover in the water without moving. Wait for that moment, and shoot.
Photo taken at one of the rare moments, when the clown fish didn’t move.
The caution, then? Why did I talk about caution? Everything sounds marvellous so far.
Well, there are plenty of drawbacks.
- You may inadvertently break the glass. That will make you look really stupid. If this happens with an aquarium, you will get soaking wet, and the fish will die. If it happens when you press the camera against the glass of a museum display with crown jewels or similar, you risk criminal charges.
- If you try this in a museum, you may set off an alarm connected to the glass, even if you do not actually break it.
- You may scratch the camera lens or the glass you press it against. Many phone covers add a distance between the lens and the outer edge, so if you use a cover, this risk is smaller.
- If you have flash switched on in an aquarium, the light may disturb the fish, especially deep-sea organisms. Always switch off the flash, when taking photos of animals. It is a matter of courtesy to the animal. Remember that the animal is at home, and you are its guest. (Using flash when you stand some distance away in an aquarium will just create a big blob of white light on the glass, and the photo will be completely
unusable,unless you are looking for a very odd effect.)
- If you keep pressing your camera against glass all the time in a public space, you block the view from other visitors. Show consideration to other people. If you are serious about using a mobile phone to take photos in museums or aquariums or zoos, perhaps for an article or a research project, talk to the staff, and ask to stay a few minutes after normal opening hours.
Low light contributes to motion blur for a physical reason. If there isn’t enough light, the camera will need to keep the sensor open for a longer time to let in more photons. During this time the subject may have moved a certain distance, so the photo becomes blurry.
This picture was taken in the shade with limited light. Nevertheless, the bird is reasonably sharp, as it sits still.