Blurry Man in Ethiopia. Camera was auto-focused on the background, not the subject.
I've moved my blog from another host, so if I make reference to previous blogs, please ignore it. My name is John Wollwerth, and I'm a wedding photographer and journalist in Beaufort, South Carolina. The unfortunate thing about being a photographer is the fact that eventually you have to give the camera to someone else if you want a picture of yourself, which is where the adventures of Blurry Man starts. So here it goes.
A while back I wrote about the adventures of Blurry Man, the adventurer who travels the world and comes back with in-focus pictures of everything and everybody except himself. Well, I’ve been on a few trips since then, and I’m happy to say, that thanks to some great people I was with, I have some in-focus pictures of myself to prove that I was where I was. I’m not sure the people I handed my camera to will ever know how much it means to have pictures of myself in some of the places I’ve been, so I’ll just say “Thanks” right now to those people.
But you’ve come to this blog to see where Blurry Man has been, so I won’t disappoint. There are of course some things you can do to make sure your own blurriness doesn’t happen. The problem is usually the tools you’re using. The reason pictures look so good coming out of an SLR camera with a good lens is that there is control over the depth of field, or how much of the picture is in focus from front to back. The tools that make your pictures look great when used correctly also give you the ability to take really bad pictures if used incorrectly. A good portrait usually has a shallow depth of field, meaning only the portion of the picture with you in it is in focus. This works great when the focal point is You, but if the focal point is something else…. well, the results follow. There are a few ways to alleviate this. The first is to tell the person taking the picture for you to make sure you are in the center of the picture. While this may sometimes be a composition faux-pas, it will at least insure that the central focus point in your camera’s viewfinder will locate you and focus on you instead of the background. The second method is to use a wide lens and a large aperture number to insure a large depth of field that hopefully includes you. This may make you a small part of the picture, but at least you’ll be in focus so long as your shutter speed is long enough. (which is another possible cause of your blurriness.) The third method, and the one I’m tending to go with lately, is to first stand where you’re going to be in the picture, focus your lens on the person who will be taking the picture, set your focus to manual, hand them the camera, and walk back to exactly the same spot you were standing. Since the distance from you to the person taking your picture is the same as the distance between the person taking your picture and you, you should be in focus when they take your picture since you’ve pre-focused for them. No matter where you are in the picture, as long as you stay the same distance from the lens, you’ll be in focus. This is insurance in case your shooter gets “artsy” The fourth method is to just have someone who is familiar with an SLR take your picture, which, wonderfully, was an option on my last trip to Africa. (Thanks Anthony).
I’ve included a couple of old Blurry Man sightings in this blog, as well as some new ones. I’ve also given the reason why each picture is out of focus.
Blurry Man in Kenya. The subjects are constantly moving either toward or away from the camera. Should have pre-focused on one spot, then clicked the shutter when the subject was the right distance away
Blurry Man in Georgia, USA. Where to even start. Wrong focus point, wrong shutter speed, motion from the shooter.
Blurry Man in Nassau, Bahamas. Camera motion with too slow a shutter speed.
Blurry Man in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Wrong focal point. Should have pre-focused for the shooter.
Blurry Man in Switzerland. Wrong focal point again.
Blurry Man in South Sudan. Wrong focal point again. Nice tree though. There’s a story behind it. I might talk about that in another blog.