We’ve had a great first couple of days at my workshop here in Washington state with Bill Fortney and gang. We started off in the Palouse area and did a sunset shoot from Steptoe Butte the other evening. I’ve been up to Steptoe before, and it’s been REALLY windy. The other night wasn’t as bad as I remember it, but there was definitely some wind.

(click to see the photo larger)

Having been to Steptoe before, I realized that long lenses tend to work really well there. So I borrowed a 200-400mm lens and started shooting. Almost immediately, I could notice the camera shaking and blurry photos. I tried everything. I was on a solid tripod, I used my bag to help steady my tripod, I was using mirror lock-up to shoot – and still… blurry photos. In fact, I could almost see it moving while looking through the camera. But zoomed out to 400mm (plus the lens shade on), this huge lens almost turns into a sail, and tends to be more affected by the wind.

I mentioned it to some one else in our group (Miles) and he said that he tried turning VR (Vibration Reduction as it’s referred to on Nikon lenses) on and got better results. VR on a tripod? I’ve always known to turn off VR on a tripod. But I gave it a whirl and the first photo was instantly sharper. That did it. And it does make sense when you think about it. VR helps when the lens is moving. Even though it was on a tripod, the lens was indeed moving, and VR locked it into place.

Here’s a zoomed in Before/After and I think you’ll agree the After is a lot sharper than the before:

For the most part, I’ll still leave VR off when I’m on a tripod. If things are locked down, steady, and your equipment isn’t moving then VR should be off. But if you find yourself out there in some windy or unstable conditions, hopefully this little tip can help save you from some blurry photos.

Wish me good luck (or sleep) for the rest of the week. The sun rises at some ungodly hour of 4:45 here, so there’s plenty of early mornings ahead. 🙂 Have a good one!


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