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by Phil Ball

Q.  I have a small compact camera with a long telephoto zoom lens. I’ve been trying to take photos of birds on the lake. I can get close enough but they always come out blurry. What can I do?

A. Three things control “correct” exposure: the lens opening, the shutter speed, and the ISO. The first thing I would suggest is opening your lens to its largest (smallest numbered) opening if you have control over that with your compact camera. This would be where Aperture priority exposure would come in handy if you have it. Then, I would suggest setting your ISO to a fairly high number but probably not to the highest setting since that one usually gives poor results. Most cameras will allow you to change the ISO as long as you are not in fully automatic mode.

Since I don’t know what type of camera you have, you may not be able to set aperture priority or set your lens opening since your compact camera may not allow you to set these things. In that case, I would suggest using the Sports mode. Most cameras have a mode with a picture of a running figure, the Sports mode. Sports mode uses the fastest shutter speed to stop the action and that is what you need to do to help get rid of the blur. Frankly, I would also suggest using a tripod with all the locks loose so you can easily follow the birds and yet still minimize camera shake.

Published: Courier 3/6/11 - Page 5C