Underrated Practical Tips for Sharper Photographs

There really is nothing worse than finding that dream photograph you took isn't quite in focus. Use these underrated tips to get more keepers and sharper photos each and every time.

You don't have to look far online to find photographers bashing their lenses or cameras for their inability to focus correctly. While all gear does have its limitations, many of those instances of soft pictures are more likely down to user error. This week, photographer and educator Matt Kloskowski explores this very topic in his latest video and offers some invaluable tips for getting sharper pictures.

The video starts with Kloskowski focusing on the physical controls that appear on the lenses themselves. He explains image stabilization and the differences between normal, active, and numbered modes. He then goes on to stress how valuable the underrated feature auto ISO is and how best to take advantage of it. For this one tip alone, it is well worth watching the video.

While the video uses action and wildlife photography for its examples, these tips can easily be applied to all areas of the industry. If you shoot anything that moves and you'd quite like to keep them in focus, then this video is for you. I've been shooting for over a decade and have never entertained using auto ISO. This is something I plan on changing next time I do street photography.

Lead image by Cody King used under Creative Commons. 

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13 Comments

EL PIC's picture

But ISO is not Real .. according to Tony Northrup !

Ansel Spear's picture

I can't take anyone seriously who says he throws away user manuals for lenses worth many thousands.

Tyler Paslay's picture

Yeah, if you spent thousands on a lens without bothering to learn what the buttons do, you clearly have too much money and not enough common sense. Sheesh...

Keith Mullin's picture

Generally all the buttons, switches, dials, rings, etc do the same thing no matter what lens or manufacturer you end up with. So unless there is something truly unique or different about a particular lens you probably don't need to look in the manual for what things do.

Ansel Spear's picture

I hardly ever read the manual. I simply keep it together with all the packaging in case I want to sell the lens.

Ansel Spear's picture

I should't criticize the naivety of this piece. I'm a 65 year old man, and it is obviously aimed at 12 year olds.

Martin Boaring's picture

I agree about the naivety but it is worthy of criticism. I'm 69 and dislike these elementary pieces to camera, much preferring Mark Galer's style of presentation — https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCd333V2AbeUItnE_fO1zRtA

Don’t you guys ever feel bad about the stuff you write here. There are people on the other side of your comments. For starters, there’s a guy (me) who worked hard to make a video covering a topic that people have trouble with. I know they have trouble with it, because I’m in front of thousands of people each year at workshops and seminars - and I see it first hand. I would never have created this video just because I felt like talking. These are questions I get. Just because they’re not your questions doesn’t mean they’re not valid. I never asked Fstoppers to share it here. I'm perfectly fine sharing it on my website and channel where I know I can help people.

And to call those people 12 year olds or “elementary” because they don’t know the things you know is wrong. I’ve been in this business for over 15 years and I sign up for the criticism the moment I create a video. I’m used to it. But people wanting to learn shouldn’t have to deal with it. I’ve personally watched how the tips covered in this video have helped people, and seen their eyes light up when they realize they can get sharper and more in focus photos because of it.

And if I disarm them a bit by joking about throwing away a lens manual (something that 99% of people don’t read), is that really that bad of a thing? Seriously, of all the good information in that video, is that what you guys really see from it... a joke about throwing a manual away?

It’s a shame you do this at the Fstoppers community. I’m continually in front of groups that talk about how they don’t feel comfortable learning on this site - how it’s not for them. A community is a place where people with similar interests can have a common feeling of friendship along with helping each other real their shared goals - that is not what you're doing.

As my parents always told me… if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything. Your comments in no way help the community here, and writing what you did only keeps people who really want (and need) to learn, away from places like this. It isn’t characteristic of what I know (or at least hope) the founders of Fstoppers set out to create.

This wasn’t a helpful “discussion” about a video… this was pointless criticizing of some one who made a good video just trying to help his community, and criticizing people who don’t already know the contents of that video.

Will Murray's picture

"There really is nothing worse" than ebola, although quadriplegia is way up there.

I have never read or seen video from Matt that is not excellent.

Luke Adams's picture

Do people really not use Auto ISO? Gosh, as a wedding photographer, I couldn’t live without it. I don’t understand these people that think their photography is better because they shot it in full manual. Yes, in the slower parts of the day, especially when I’m moving around shooting backlit and front lit stuff (around windows), keeping the camera in manual is a good choice, and less finicky than riding my exposure compensation dial. But when the bride is walking down the aisle, and I realize that I want a different aperture, but changing that means I now have to adjust my iso or ss, or sometimes both, that’s just an unnecessary headache. Aperture priority mode, set a minimum SS of 125 or 250, Auto ISO, and you’re off to the races.

Hi Luke. The people I'm talking to in this video don't feel their photography is better because of manual. They simply aren't familiar with Auto ISO and its benefits.