Vertical orientation photograph with strong leading lines in the sand underneath a pastel sunset

Leading Lines and Lazy Misfires

Vertical orientation photograph with strong leading lines in the sand underneath a pastel sunset
Leading Lines and Lazy Misfires — 14mm | f/8 | ISO 100 | EXP 1/6 sec


No, original NES Link, I’m not a hungry Goriya looking for a free lunch. Instead I’m just a dude (probably hungry) who’s going to spend a few hundred words whining a bit about what might have been. I like this photograph. I like it more than the one I posted last nightand here comes the but—but man did I turn this into a rush job. A rush job thereby leaving me without the stillness and subsequent sharpness I come to expect of myself and my photographs. Sure there’s a time and a place for soft edges and blurred lines, this was not one of those times.

It’s not uncommon for me to remove my camera body from its tripod head once I’ve settled on my shot of the night. Last night was no different. With a few minutes of time to kill, and a stunning pastel light show happening opposite of sunset over the ocean toward the northeast, I popped off a few handheld shots. Here’s where the lazy misfire comes into play. In my haste to make a shot I should have noticed that my shutter speed was down to 1/6 of one second. At a 14mm focal length this pushes sharpness to its limits. As a general rule when I am photographing handheld I try to never shoot at a shutter speed less than the focal length of my lens. So if I’ve got my 100mm on I tend to stay north of 1/100 of a second; rocking my nifty fifty I stay above 1/50, and so it goes. Of course there are exceptions, and if I take the time to still my legs, slow my inhale and depress the shutter in between breaths, I am able to push this further but I digress.

I took neither the time nor the care to make sure I was appropriately still yesterday, and have been kicking myself for it ever since seeing this shot in Lightroom. In hindsight I should have done one of two things: 1) move my tripod to reposition for this shot, rendering the sharpest and cleanest possible outcome, or 2) I at least should have dialed up my ISO to 400 to give me a quicker shutter speed for a sharper image. (At 400 ISO the shutter would be 4 times faster than at 100 while at the same aperture).

Now if you’re sitting back looking at this photo thinking Greg, you’re crazy! well you wouldn’t be wrong, but you also wouldn’t be entirely right. Viewed small enough this photograph appears quite sharp, quite clean. But if you blow it up and look close enough, particularly at the shells in the sand, you will clearly see the absence of sharpness. The ghosting around the shells gives my misfire away. It shows just enough camera shake during the 1/6 exposure. Enough shake to keep this from being a candidate for any kind of medium to large print. Le sigh. As to whether this is a lesson learned the hard way, we shall see. If you made it this far thanks for listening to me vent, I think it’s important to openly share our mistakes.





One response to “Leading Lines and Lazy Misfires”

  1. […] render cleanly at a large enough size. Imperfections aside I still may post it here tomorrow as the leading lines of the photo are a real standout. We’ll […]

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