Focus, people, focus! March 23, 2009 1:55 AM   Subscribe

Can-you-ID-this-filter: Focus, people, focus!

Not to pick on anyone in particular, but of the last few ID-filter questions, only 1 has nice clear pics of the object in question. Now I know cameraphones aren't ideal, and not everybody has a nice DSLR or even a good P&S, but blurry photos = more guesses / poorer answers = less useful AskMeFi.

Tips:
  • More light = faster shutter = less blur. Fluoro lights or halogen desklamps are good, outside in full sunlight is better. The 40W globe in your toilet? Not so good...
  • Take a step backwards, or move the camera back an inch or two. Filling the screen is no good if the camera can't focus on the subject.
(Sorry, it's just something which I've seen way too much of recently, both here and on other fora I frequent, and in most cases it's so easy to fix with some care - a bit of light, move back into the camera's focus range, and voila! We're identifying objects rather than blur...)
posted by Pinback to Etiquette/Policy at 1:55 AM (30 comments total)

This would be a recommendation for an FAQ addition then?

I love ID-filter questions. I <3>
posted by Jofus at 2:50 AM on March 23, 2009


Sorry, that should have said:

This would be a recommendation for an FAQ addition then?

I love ID-filter questions. I *heart* the "click" it makes in my mind when Enormously Obscure Problems meet Unexpectedly Definitive Solutions. Like an expensive car door closing or discovering that your notebook fits just so into a previously undiscovered pocket of your rucksack.
posted by Jofus at 2:51 AM on March 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


so should i or shouldn't i post my most recent batch of blurry sasquatch photos?
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:18 AM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is like asking someone posting a relationship filter question to be clear and concise.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:35 AM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not at all, JohnnyGunn. In one case we're asking people to realize their special snowflake isn't that special or different from all the other snowflakes; in the other Pinback is giving them directions on how to take a decent picture of their snowflake, special or not.
posted by orange swan at 4:38 AM on March 23, 2009


Pinback: "Take a step backwards, or move the camera back an inch or two."

Better advice: Pretty much every digital point and shoot has a "macro" mode. Usually it's an icon of a flower. Turn that on. That'll allow you to focus on things really close. On my camera, the minimum focus distance in macro mode is something like 3cm.

Another option is to move back and then zoom in. Not only does it make focusing the closeup a little easier, but it makes the shape of the object feel a little more "real". (Most point-and-shoots have slightly wide-angle lenses when unzoomed.)
posted by Plutor at 4:55 AM on March 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Taking multiple pictures from different angles is a good idea too. A short (<:10) video where you twist and turn the object could also work.
posted by DU at 5:34 AM on March 23, 2009


Taking multiple pictures is a good idea in any case, even without different angles. If you're taking ten pictures instead of one you'll have a better chance of getting a good one among them. And it's not like you'll run out of film inside your cameraphone.
posted by bjrn at 6:34 AM on March 23, 2009


both here and on other fora I frequent

I would argue that Ask Metafilter doesn't belong in that list. But then again, I like to argue.

Please identify this.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:41 AM on March 23, 2009


That's Helen Mirren, right?
posted by greekphilosophy at 7:01 AM on March 23, 2009


blue beetle: $20, SAIT
posted by Navelgazer at 7:02 AM on March 23, 2009


These are all good points (excepting pricing out the Queen like that), but they won't override the need to know what this thing is RIGHT NOW and camera phones tend to lack macro modes.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:13 AM on March 23, 2009


Also, try to get a photo of the poisonous spider that just bit you before you squish it in a fit of horrified anger. I know it can be tough to keep a calm and clear head as you are losing consciousness, but it makes it much easier for us to tell you how long you have to live when we can see something more than a greasy stain.
posted by quin at 7:48 AM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I didn't know it was poisonous until I jabbed my camera phone in its face, did I?
posted by Elmore at 8:13 AM on March 23, 2009


Focus, people, focus!

Focus? No no - focthem!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:14 AM on March 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


And after all
We're only
Ordinarfoc men
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:15 AM on March 23, 2009


ID-filter is just a cover to sneak creationism into AskMe.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:20 AM on March 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


The real issue is that most affordable digital point-and-hope cameras have crappy screens that simply cannot accurately display whether the object really IS in focus. They come close, but the screens are not high-rez enough to be totally accurate. And then there's the problem with the "waiting in the dark" period after you press the button. It's not as bad with the newer über-pixel cameras, but there can still be an unnerving hang-time between when you push the button and you see the result. Unless you're on a tripod, the potential for camera movement in those couple of seconds is great.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:42 AM on March 23, 2009


A country girl visits her cousin in the big city. After a day on the town, the cousin suggests a photograph to commemorate the event. In the photographer's studio is a large view camera. When he ducks under the dark cloth, the country girl asks her cousin what the man is doing.

"Now he's going to focus."

With an uncertain look at the photographer, the country girl asks, "Both us?"
posted by theroadahead at 10:13 AM on March 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yes, it would also be helpful if the posters could label the objects in question appropriately so we knew what we were looking at.
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 1:55 PM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Only show us the useful part of the mystery object.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:44 PM on March 23, 2009


Double minus: Crummy picture plus not bothering to make an actual link to the crummy picture.
posted by sageleaf at 2:56 PM on March 23, 2009


Focus? Hell I damn near killed us...
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 3:16 PM on March 23, 2009


"Fora"? Awesome.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:31 PM on March 23, 2009


And please… if the object has a reflective surface, take the picture clothed.
posted by tellurian at 3:41 PM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


For close-ups and straight-on shots of flat stuff, Scotch tape some wax paper over the flash, then use the flash.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:58 PM on March 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


And please… if the object has a reflective surface, take the picture clothed.

Ok, so who is going to do the equivalent of the Plutor explanation of Macro, with light tents?
posted by mlis at 4:50 PM on March 23, 2009


I was out walking one early morning near a lake and spotted this. Is it a lake otter of some sort? Can anyone identify it for me?
posted by salvia at 11:30 PM on March 23, 2009


Please identify this.

Dunno about the chick, but isn't that her headware in the 'Flag it and move on' poster?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:04 AM on March 24, 2009


MLIS: "Ok, so who is going to do the equivalent of the Plutor explanation of Macro, with light tents?"

I used strobist's $10 light box plans once to make a roughly 6"x6"x6" light box for free with stuff I had around the house. That plus macro mode = not too shabby.
posted by Plutor at 5:36 AM on March 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


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