So you checked all the technical issues with your tripod from our last post, but your pictures are still blurry. There are a few more factors that may be in play.

Are you on firm ground? Many streets and sidewalks in New York City do not provide a solid surface for long exposures. What? Why? If there is a subway line under the sidewalk then the ground will move every time a subway train passes. Also if you have your tripod set up close to a road, the passing of a large vehicle is likely to shake the ground. If you are on the Brooklyn Bridge you will never get a tack sharp image with a long exposure because it's a suspension bridge with cars moving below. Balconies are also problematic as they often have some give; if someone walks next to you while you take a long exposure it will vibrate the camera. If you are on dirt, make sure to push your tripod all the way into the ground until it stops.

Windy, even slightly windy conditions, can also cause problems. In this situation you will need a very sturdy tripod or sand bags to hold down your camera.

Another cause of blurry photos while using a tripod is you. The simple act of pushing the button may cause the camera to move. To resolve this problem you can use the self timer function on your camera, a cable release or a wireless release button.

The last cause may be the object you are photographing. Look closely to see whether or not it's moving. Buildings sway, clouds move, as do bridges and seemingly solid objects. The longer your shutter speed, the more likely you will see blur.

One of the key reasons we use a tripod is because we need to shoot with a long exposure which we cannot hand hold. But sometimes we still can't seem to get a sharp photo. Here are a few things that might affect the sharpness of your photos.

The first consideration is the head and the tripod itself. Do you have a sturdy tripod with a sturdy head? If your tripod cost less than $50 new, it's probably not enough. You also need to make sure that the head is rated for the amount of weight you put on it. In other words, if you have a head rated for 1.5 lbs and your body and lens weigh 4 pounds, you will probably experience some slippage; usually about the time you decide to take the photo.

Is the camera firmly mounted to the tripod? Very often photographers do not tighten their camera enough to the tripod head or quick release plate. Make sure your camera is firmly mounted.

Another reason may be your image stabilization. One of the best technological advances in photography is the advent of image stabilization (aka vibration reduction). This technology allows us to take hand held pictures at slower shutter speeds without blur from our own hand movement. However, if you have your camera mounted to a tripod, you MUST turn off your stabilization system. If the camera does not detect motion, it will create motion.

Although conventional wisdom dictates that a photograph should have straight horizons, the question is why? Photography is, or can be, a form of art. And through movements like dadaism we have come to learn and accept that when it comes to art there are no rules or conventional wisdom. There is only self expression. And for each person that self expression is different. So take a cue from our planet, and tilt... if you think it works better!

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