1.1 Avoid subject movement blur

Don't confuse motion blur with out of focus

Looking at the image below, what is the visual clue to distinguish between motion blur and the image being out of focus?

If the image has an element in focus, then the main subject is out of focus. Movement blur results in the whole image becoming blurred.

In the next module, we will be covering reasons why autofocus may not be sharp and how to use manual focus - Lesson 2.4 Manual focus.

The movement blur problem:

There are two main types of movement blur: subject movement and camera shake.


1. Take a photo of a static subject

2. Stabilise your smartphone on a tripod or against a sturdy object

3. Introduce more light to speed up your camera

4. Make your smartphone camera faster and freeze any movement

Static subject

If practical, wait for a moment when your subject is moving less.

Sometimes, you cannot control the subject. An example is children playing football. If they are running laterally across in front of you they move quite quickly. If you can position or wait for an opportunity when they are running toward you, there is less movement for your camera to contend with.

If practical, locate or move the subject to a more sheltered position. If you are capturing flowers in really windy conditions, consider holding the stem of the flower in one hand as you capture in your other hand. Sounding difficult? I discovered recently holding my phone against the wrist of my hand holding the flower didn't work. I thought I was adding extra stability. In fact, I could actually see a shake on my screen that was my pulse!

The wind is one of the biggest issues outside, particularly flower photos that are susceptible to movement in the slightest breeze. As you can see in the below diagram simply placing an object in front of the flower as a windbreak can actually introduce more circulating air.

Many of us discover this when we try to use our body as a windbreak and it just doesn't work. The answer is to a V-shaped structure pointing toward the wind or an entire structure over the subject that covers 3/4 - 2 sides, a rear wall and roof!

My preference is to have two white pieces of cardboard having 1 edge taped together allowing the two sheets to be folded flat for storage. This also works very well to bounce light around the flower.

What if you cannot make the subject still?

Add extra light - Indoor environments may seem to have enough light, however, your camera may need more. If you are consistently struggling to capture your pets running around inside, try outside to see if that makes a difference (it will). Lighting tips to improve sharpness are covered in lesson 1.3 Control lighting.

Make your camera faster - The easiest option for those impromptu captures is to make your smartphone camera faster by taking manual control of the camera. This is covered in more details inside lesson 2.5 ISO and shutter speeds explained.

If you find manual control a little intimidating, consider using burst mode. You may strike it lucky and capture 1 image in a bunch that flukes good sharpness.