Young girl with palomino horse outside in the fall

Sharper Images

Have you been frustrated with the quality of your images? I have a few tips for taking sharper pictures that have helped me over the years.

1. Invest in a high-quality lens, with a low aperture 

I shoot with the Sigma Art line (35m, 85m, 135m) and I love the sharpness of these lenses at f/2-2.8.

See what else is in my bag here.

2. Try back button focus

I noticed an increase in my keep-rate when I started shooting with back button focus. If you want to try this, search your camera body on YouTube for a tutorial of how to set your camera to back button focus. Some people love it, others hate it. Try it out at a practice session or two to see if you can get the feel for it.

3. Increase shutter speed, lower ISO

Motion blur could be a cause. I try to keep my shutter faster than 1/500 and ISO under 500 to maintain a high image quality.

4. Toggle your focus point

If you use the center focus and then recompose, your motion could be a cause of missing focus. I toggle my focus point to the place I want it so that I don’t need to move my camera at all when I press the shutter.

5. Check your eyes

I shoot every session with my glasses on to make sure that I can see everything clearly in camera!

6. Clean your equipment

I use these wipes to clean my lenses frequently. Sometimes fly spray, dust, or dirt can create a film over the lens that makes it difficult to nail focus, or creates a haze to the image.

7. Calibrate your lens

Follow YouTube tutorials if you are missing focus slightly — you might be able to micro-adjust your focus. Personally, I send my equipment in to be professionally calibrated. I send my Sigma lenses to Sigma with the Nikon body so that the lens can be calibrated to the body. 

8. Focus before each shot

Because I shoot at a very shallow depth of field, any motion from myself or the subject can result in missed focus. I focus before every time I press the shutter. 

Kirstie jones

fine art equine photographer

A lifetime horse enthusiast, the Texas-based equine photographer has experienced first-hand the immeasurable bond between a horse and a girl. She strives to capture that special relationship for each and every client.

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