Make a sharp photograph

I often hear people comment on how clear and sharp my images are.

It is actually quite easy to make a sharp photograph, as long as you are using the proper tools.

When thinking about a craft the difference between an ok product and a great product usually comes down to the tools and how they are used. And the skill set that comes with those tools is an acquired ability through many hours of practice.

I have been working on my various photography skill sets for nearly fifty years. Proper form and function when hand holding a camera is more important than most people realize. Holding the camera in the palm of one hand with the other hand on the grip and ready to press the shutter while your elbows are firmly planted at your side and your feet are shoulder width apart, is the form. The function is the slow rhythmic breathing and slowly squeezing the shutter release.

If you have ever learned the proper way to fire a fire arm the form and function that I just mention should sound similar, and that is because it is the only difference being the angle of the wrist on the hand firing the weapon or pressing the shutter ease of the camera.

Many years ago a friend asked if I wanted to go out to the gun range for the afternoon and shoot targets and clay pigeons. It had been a long time and I thought it would be a great way to spend a summer afternoon. Late that afternoon my friend asked how I had shot so well with no practice? I told him that the form and function of shooting a gun were so similar to photography that it was very easy to shoot so well. I have not been out to a range since that afternoon, but I think the same out come would happen today if I were to spend an afternoon at the range.

Most of my images today are made in what I like to call a low and slow approach. What I mean  is that I usually photograph at ISO of 100 or less if possible that is the low, and by slow I am referring to the shutter speed usually in the range of 1/125 or slower. These settings make it more difficult to hand hold the camera. This is where one of the most important pieces of photographic equipment I own come into play, the tripod and the cable release.

For thirty years I used a 4X5 camera that required the use of a tripod, and when I made the switch to using only a digital camera I never thought twice about using the tripod. I have taken the old school techniques  and the modern technology and use them together. When I am making an image I will compose the image, adjust my aperture and shutter speed then I  will lock the camera mirror in the up position. Then after several seconds to allow for any vibration to subside I will slowly press the shutter release and make the exposure.