Help! Long exposure shots turned out blurry


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Mar 29, 2014
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I'm using a Nikon D7000 and a Sigma 150-500mm lens.

I tried to take a long exposure shot this evening (30 seconds) and both of them turned out blurry. I did some reading online afterwards and learned that having IS on can cause this. After tweaking the image around in lightroom and PS, do you think the below image looks blurry? If so do you know if there's any way to fix it?



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How are you stabilizing the camera foe the 30 second exposure?

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Doesnt look blury to me.
When you shoot long exposure you need to put camera on tripod which I assume you did.
In long exposure assuming camera is on tripod you can still get motion blur, that will happened if the object you are shooting will move while the camera is recording.
Another trick to prevent camera shake in long exposure is by shooting with a remote, these cost 10$ and are very effective.
If you want to go the extra mile you can put camera on mirror lock up so you minimize the risk of mirror moving the camera.
Looking at the "normal" dimmer lights in the distance I see what you mean by motion blur.
But I think this is more the camera was moved 3 times during the shot, which can occur from:
- Not using a remote - when you use your finger to activate the exposure this in itself causes movement.
- not using mirror lock up - the slap of the mirror up can vibrate the camera
- not blocking the wind to the camera
- you yourself physically moving around the camera while it is exposing (and/or a cheap & light tripod)
- things causing the camera to move such as the high vibration noise of an aircraft taking off/landing

Anytime I do a long exposure I try to minimize the total length of exposure by using the highest but optimal ISO level for the shot. Then you can also enhance the blacks in post processing.

But in this I see your objective is to get aircraft light trails up into the sky, thus the exposure time is critical here. So you have to be much more critical of everything else.

Just start some critical thinking of what can make the camera move. It is the total environment and everyone, everything in that environment. Person (yourself), the ground shaking, the wind blowing, aircraft noise, you walking around the camera even if on concrete, etc.

btw, Nice starbursts on the lights
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Ah OK I see. I need to stabilize the camera better next time. Thanks

I used a staircase but it got windy as soon as the plane landed.
Ah OK I see. I need to stabilize the camera better next time. Thanks

I used a staircase but it got windy as soon as the plane landed.
Some outside concrete staircases seem to act like rubber bands. You can feel them kinda "bounce". So moving on one moves everything else. Not much, but enough for a camera to ever so slightly move. Even if you are on a concrete pad you want to remain totally still, or with a Radio remote activate it off of that concrete pad (slab, etc). I've even had a car driving past my camera a good 50+ feet away in the street cause ever so slight motion blur to a shot.
I didn't realize that you did not shot this in manual

Camera: Nikon D7000
Lens: 150-500 mm f/5-6.3
Shot at 150 mm (35mm film equiv: 225mm)
Exposure: Auto exposure, Shutter priority AE, 30 sec, f/22, ISO 100
Even though your camera is firmly mounted to a tripod, ground shaking caused by airplanes taking off is probably the culprit in your photo. In the 'thrill of the moment' with all the attendant noise, etc, one does not notice the ground shaking. I take many pictures of trains and ground shaking is 'normal' to deal with. I've even felt the ground shaking alongside a highway bridge and a heavy truck crosses the bridge.

I think I'd try some anti-shake solution such as using 1/2 filled bags of sand under the legs of the tripod. Hopefully, the sand will absorb some of the ground shaking. If that doesn't work or is not an option, perhaps 2 inch thick pillow foam under the legs would work. Maybe a suction cup automobile window camera mount would work as the tires on the car would absorb some of the shake, but then the jet blast would shake the car... You have an interesting problem to solve...
Hey I like those. I like all the other pics too but then, I also like to take photos of aircraft :)

Every time you're out there you have to review how stable your entire system is and how to make sure nothing (you, wind, ground movement, etc) shakes it even a little.

I've never thought about taking night shots at the airport but I might give it a go one of these days.
Wow, I am amazed at how well the Green and Red indicator/location lights shewed in the photo.....they flash don't they.?
Amway...great looking pics. This is something I have not seen too many times.
I could, easily, see somebody or firm paying for these in an advert, brochure, come-on, or whatever. I think they look fantastic.
Yeah, the rotation, what do pilots call that..... V2.?
Well Done :)

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