Beginner with focus / blur issues

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Steamboat, Apr 14, 2009.

  1. Steamboat

    Steamboat TPF Noob!

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    This is my first post so I will try not to make an idiot of myself. I have two questions, a general one and a specific one.

    I have a Nikon D60, and anytime the light is less than ideal, my shots end up blurry because of the long shutter speed and the fact that I don't use a tripod and I can't stand still. I guess that is to be expected, but I have read from other places things like "with modern DSLR's you can up the ISO without noise problems and take great pictures with low light even without a tripod."

    In practice it doesn't work for me though. Example: I have a Nikon 1.4g 50mm lens (supposed to be good in low light) and I'm shooting just pics of my family in a living room, with the lights on - and they are blurry. I up the ISO to 800, still blurry. If I put it in shutter priority and lower the speed, I just end up with extremely under-exposed black pictures. Am I just expecting too much?


    Second question - there is a picture I've always wanted to take but I have been unable to get it right so far. When the sun has just set and is below the horizon but there is still twilight left, the silhouette of a tree in front of that sky is perfectly black. With my eyes the leaves and tree are perfectly black and sharp against the blue/pink sunset. With a camera (1.4g 50mm lens @ 100 ISO on tripod, remotely triggered), it comes out as a tree, but it just isn't sharp at all. Any tips on how to get this shot? Auto Focus obviously doesn't work here, is it just that I suck at manual focusing? Or is it something else about my settings?

    Note: I am posting from work right now and I don't have the ability to upload example images. I'm sorry if the post is useless without them.
     
  2. Sarah23

    Sarah23 TPF Noob!

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    Your first question....you just dont have enough light. Even at 1.4, and a high ISO, if you dont have enough light it just wont work. The solution...get more light. :)

    Your second question....you have to focus on the tree, but expose for the sunset/sky. Make sure your camera isnt re-focusing when it is triggered, or else its most likely going to get it out of focus. You might have to manually focus if there isnt enough light for your camera to find the focus on the tree.
     
  3. bigtwinky

    bigtwinky No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I had the same thought about the living room picture that if you don't have enough light using an f/1.4 lens and an ISO of 800, then there simply isn't enough light. If you live in a normal living room, with a couple of lights on that should be enough for reading, then it should be enough for a picture at those settings.

    For the tree picture, what f stop are you using? Are you setting it to f/1.4? If so, this creates shallow depth of field and will make portions of your image blurry.

    When doing night shots, move that f/# to 11-16 to get a clear, crisp image.
     
  4. Steamboat

    Steamboat TPF Noob!

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    Thank you Sarah and bigtwinky for the advice.

    With reference to "expose for the sunset", the phrase "expose for X" is something I hear a lot. But I guess I don't know exactly what I would do to accomplish this. In this example would I set my exposure compensation to under or overexpose? It seems like underexposing would just make the sky so dark there was no contrast with the tree, and it seems like overexposing would show the color and leaves of the tree instead of making it a black silhouette.
     
  5. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    Setting your exposure for 'X' can be done in different ways.
    One way would be to just guess and test, trial and error. Digital allows us to shoot and instantly check the results. So you could take a shot, check it, then adjust the exposure and shoot again. In the auto modes, you can use EC (exposure compensation) to change the exposure. In manual mode, you can change either the shutter speed, aperture or ISO. A good practice it to 'bracket' your shots. Take several shots of a scene and change the exposure each time. One at the camera's recommended exposure, then at least one over and one under. Then later, you can review the shots to see which one you like best.

    Another way to expose for something specific...is to meter it directly. In the case of a tree and the sky...you could zoom in or get close to the tree...so that you frame is filled with it. Half press the shutter release and take note of the values in the viewfinder (shutter and aperture). You can either lock those settings in or flip the camera to manual and input them yourself. Then back up and compose the shot how you like. The resulting photo *should be* exposed for the tree....which may leave the sky overexposed. If you want to meter for the sky, just do the same but fill the frame with sky to get your settings.
     
  6. Steamboat

    Steamboat TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Big Mike, I will give it a try.
     
  7. basic jammer

    basic jammer TPF Noob!

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    very informative post. well absorbed... thanx....
     

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