Look Sharp! 5 Tips to Get Your Photos in Focus


Are your photos in focus?

Unless you need glasses and are not wearing them, you should be able to tell right away. If you have any doubts, you can check your vision here and see a doctor! Digital photography has advanced enough to even cell phones can take sharp photos. I even know a few photographers who can take stunning photos with the cheapest disposable camera. There really is no excuse for taking blurry photos anymore. Unless, you want to take blurry photos, in which case that's your deal. I've only seen highly skilled photographers get away with a blurry pic. Most of us mere mortals can't take a blurry photo on artistic merit.

How do you get your photos in focus all the time? Luckily, with practice you can snap sharp pics on a regular basis just knowing what might be causing your photos to go blurry. Here are some things to check:

Clean Your Lens

lenscleanerSometimes the culprit to soft-focus photos is merely a dirty lens. Lenses can get dirty from all kinds of things, accidental touch, dust, even mist or fog. A simple lens cloth can clean your lens in a snap, and what's great is you can get one for $5 or less.

Make Sure You Have Enough Light

If you're using a camera on automatic settings, chances are the camera will automatically adjust things like ISO and shutter speed. This can have an effect on the graininess of your photos in low light. Try to get as much light as you can for your photos, snap during the day, or getting a decent flash will help. Most indoor lighting is not enough to properly light a photo, cameras need more light than your eyes to get photos properly in focus, unless you have a tripod and can set your camera up for a long exposure. But for most fashion blogger purposes, going to events, exhibitions, presentations, and outfit shots long exposure photography doesn't work. So get a secondary light source if you can.

Hold the Camera Steady

Some cameras and lenses have image stabilization, but for the most part, you'll need a steady hand. If you have trouble with this, try using a tripod, or propping the camera on a table or ledge, even a book can be used to keep a camera steady. This can also be used in low light as well!

Use Auto Focus

Auto focus is the fastest way to get your pics nice and sharp. All you do is point (depending on your camera) press half way down the shutter-release button, wait for the lens to focus, then press the button all the way. DSLRs you can select manually where you want your camera to focus, or you can let the camera decide. Either way, auto focus is  fantastic tool for getting sharp photos.

Pay Attention to Pixelation pixelated

Every image on the web is made of pixels. Those are tiny squares of color that make up everything you see on your screen. When an image is pixelated, you can see the squares, and it looks digital. One thing I've noticed is bloggers taking photos that appear to have had good light, composition and were at one point in focus. It's good to be mindful of how big your images are because a long load time and slow website can turn off readers, but don't ruin your photos by over-optimizing them for the web. Above is an example of a photo that's been compressed too much, can you see the squares? Those pixels are visible. Often times, I find that compressing to an 8 is sufficient enough to decrease load time without affecting the image. But play around! See how far you can push it before it pixelates.

compressed jpg

Keep Taking Photos

Either way, the path to sharp photos is not a difficult one, it just takes a bit of trial and error to get it right. Don't be afraid to push buttons on your camera, play around, experiment with different light situations, play around with your photo editor, and most of all, be honest with yourself about your work. I generally like to be gentle with myself, but it's ok to push to be better. With something like photography, you can take better photos, and what's more, learning is the most fun part!

[Top Image Credit: Shutterstock.com]

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10 Responses

  1. Ariana

    Great tips! I just got an iphone so I am planning to take most of the non outfit posts myself as my digital camera is not very good. But I will try again with the tips you suggested maybe I am the reason some of the pictures are blurry. I will have to do this until I am able to get a better camera. Are there any free photo editing sites online similar to photoshop?

    • Sage

      Are you using an Apple computer? If so, Pixelmator is a great photo editing app with all the functionality of photoshop. If you’re just going for colour tweaking though, you can use the Edit option in iPhoto.

    • Jennine Jacob

      Hmm, from what I can see most your pics are in focus, except a few, which it looks like they were taken in low light. Try waiting for the daytime and photographing not in direct sunlight (too much glare) but in the shade, or if you have a way of diffusing the light (like a fogged glass window) use that. Even the iPhone has limits on what it can do in low light!

      The other photo I saw was taken in the shade, but it just looked like the lens needed a good clean because it had a “soft focus” quality to it. The rest looked good! Just playing around with saturation and contrast (minimally) and you’re there!

      GIMP is a great tool, and it’s a lot like Photoshop, so you can totally use it! I’ve also heard good things about picmonkey. Taylor used to use it even though I installed Photoshop on her computer. http://www.picmonkey.com/

  2. The Science of Happy

    Great tips, I always take several photos at different times of the day over many days as I live in the UK and our weather fluctuates a lot. Also, I think it’s important not to use MS Paint for anything beyond basic. If you resize on MS Paint, it compresses it in a strange way that it reveals all the pixels, try to use a photo editor of some sort. (I know a lot of people still use MS Paint).


  3. Barbara

    Ever since I got the Samsung Galaxy Note II I have been taking all my pictures with them and sincerely, I couldn’t have asked for better. My pictures are crisp, detailed and usually need less editing in Photo editor than before.
    Still thinking of getting a DSLR though but it isn’t priority now.
    I also love what you said about learning to take better pictures in photography and I can only say that it is absolutely the truth. Check my site and see what my earliest pictures looked like and I had a point and shoot then with 8mp too (which is what the Note II has), lol.


  4. Sinead Purcell

    I find that it’s down to practise! I try and take a bunch so that I can get the focus just right, and having the right lens on the camera is important too – I don’t like them to be blurry on purpose, but I like a focal point and that’s taken a bit of time to get the hang of with the DSLR!

  5. Petya

    Great tips, especially since I don’t have a DSLR camera. With my camera I am always looking for light, that’s maybe the most important thing when I am taking pictures. I fell like my 8mp point and shoot is just not good enough for taking pictures for a fashion blog and this is my biggest problem when it comes to my blog.