long exposure – Why are my photo’s not so sharp even when using a tripod?

How long is a long exposure? Trees move, clouds move. The pylon, which is the only truly static element, seems reasonably sharp as far as I can tell on a small jpg.

Most photographers would not use the results straight from the camera – some Photoshop [or Gimp or Luminar or OnOne etc etc] skill is essential to turn ‘pretty good’ into ‘publishable’.

I did a really quick punch up in Photoshop to add a bit of ‘drama’ to this. Working from a small jpg isn’t the best start, as it’s a bit crackly, but this was just 2 minutes’ work, adding contrast & some sharpening. [No, it’s not perfect, it’s just an example of what can be done, to show how much you can punch up detail. It will work much, much better from your original image than a highly-compressed jpg]

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I did the wrong pic first, so I now tweaked both the sky shots.

From comments…
I don’t yet know what ISO settings were used for these, but at exposure times of 2.5s & 0.5s respectively, I’d have definitely used some method to increase the amount of light captured – lift ISO, open aperture, or extend exposure time – whichever adds least extra work.

Looking at the Histogram, though there’s a hint of bright at the top, I feel it would have been worth at least bracketing these shots and either using HDR later, or picking the one least affected by lost data at the top. It’s easier to reduce overall brightness after the fact if you are Exposing to the right than lift shadows if you haven’t used the full scale to best efficiency.

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