While I was browsing the internet so days back, I came across the photo above along with the familiar ” what is wrong with this photo ” caption. After a brief glance at the photo, I quickly found the antidote for the “what is wrong this photo” virus.
Really? What is wrong with this photo?
Well, everything is wrong with this photo. This photo is a classical example of the consequences that arise from flouting the simple laws of the exposure triangle (sensitivity, speed and aperture). This obviously has created an unbalanced image with an unacceptable presence of motion blur.
So tell me, What exactly is wrong with this image?
I have no access to the EXIF data of the image above but I will tell you what is wrong the photo.
The photo looks sharp, well exposed with a broad depth of field. There are no traces of background blur (bokeh). You can see how everything is in focus, including the building and windows. This leave us with a simple deduction that the photo was shot with a pretty closed aperture of about f14-f16 and that’s why you see every single element in the composition in focus, especially the elements in the background.
As for the sensitivity, we can easily deduce that the ISO was really low. The ISO is around 100-200. The photo looks clean and generally noise free. Using high ISO value results in noise, discoloration and details smudging. But how does using a lower ISO value which produces less noise affects the photo above?
The answer to your question is right here so continue reading carefully, you are almost there!
We have figured out our aperture and sensitivity (ISO) value so let us talk about the last leg of the exposure triangle which is speed (shutter speed). The consequences of using a low ISO value (camera is less sensitive to light) and shooting with a pretty closed lens (very little light is let through the lens) makes the ultimate manifestation here.
Take a quick look at the photo again and you will notice that it features people on motion. In order to freeze the people on motion, a pretty fast shutter speed is needed. But this will result in a very dark image due to the low sensitivity and closed down lens.
The reason why the photo has so many motion blur is due to the fact that a slow shutter speed was used in order to compensate for the low sensitivity level and closed lens. The slow shutter speed ultimately led to the inability of the camera to freeze the people on motion.
But the buildings and the other elements in the composition not on motion are tack sharp, with no motion blur. From this, it makes sense if we say the shutter speed is somewhere between 1/20th-1/30th of a second.
Remember that a slow shutter speed is needed in order not to end up with a dark photo since we are shooting with a closed lens and a low ISO value. Remember also that a slow shutter speed leads to motion blur as in the case with our case photo above.
What is wrong with this photo? Possible solution
Now we know exactly what is wrong with this photo, so it is time to proffer a working solution.
Assuming the same depth of field is to be maintained, then all that is needed is a tweak in the sensitivity level and shutter speed.
First, adjust the sensitivity level to 400 or 800 depending on how bright the day is. This will make the photo extremely bright and at the same time allow you to choose a faster shutter speed of at least 1/200th of a second, which is just enough to freeze the motion of the people in the composition. So basically, the higher ISO leaves a huge gap in the exposure triangle which we fill up by using a faster shutter speed!
So we now know exactly ” what is wrong with this photo ” and we also know exactly what to do to right the wrong.
Photo credit: Tom Martin