A Guide to Sharper Shots - Part 2

June 05, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

If you read my last blog 2 weeks ago, you will know that the 3 most common causes of blur in your photo's are:

  • Camera Shake
  • Incorrect Focussing
  • Subject Movement 

Last time out we talked about Camera Shake, so this time let's take a look at how to fix Focussing Errors.

 

INCORRECT FOCUSSING

Focussing incorrectly is a sure fire way of ruining the shot, we've all done it and all of us have ended up with a photograph that has a soft subject and sharp background, not a good look!! Whilst all modern digital SLR lenses have AF (Autofocus), the photographer is still required to let the camera know which part of the frame he/she would like to be sharp, so brushing up on your auto focussing skills is required to fix this problem.

Focussing Modes

Most camera's have 3 focussing modes to choose from; One Shot, Continuous and Manual, which one you choose depends upon the subject you are shooting. One Shot, is generally used for shooting static subjects, the camera will focus when you half press the shutter button and lock the focal point until the button is fully pressed. Continuous is used for moving subjects, the focal point will track the subjects movement when the shutter button is half pressed and will not lock until the button is fully pressed and the shot is taken. Manual, gives you full control over the focal point and is adjusted by twisting the focus ring.

 

AF (Autofocus) Points

AF Points are visible through the viewfinder and are the small square/rectangles that light up when you half press your shutter button. Autofocus Points are locations in your camera's field of vision where the camera will focus. This means that the camera will select one of the squares in your view finder to be the sharpest part of the photo, this may not necessarily be the part of the picture that you would like to be sharpest therefore gaining control of the camera's AF points is a must.

 

 

Focusing on a Static Subject

Camera's have a focus selector switch on the body that allows you to gain control of the active AF Point, this is called the Focus Point button, check your camera's manual for instruction on how to change it, then make sure that the active AF Point is covering the area that you want to be sharpest. 

Step 1

Set your focusing mode to it's single shot setting. This is called 'One Shot' on Canon and 'AF-S' on Nikon, check your manual for instructions on your specific model.

Step 2

Half press then release the shutter button, you will see the active AF point highlighted in red. Use the D-pad to position it over the part of the scene that you want to be sharp.

Step 3

With your AF point in place, half press the shutter button to set the focus (most camera's emit a short beep at this point), then fully depress the shutter button to take a sharp shot.

 

Focusing on a Moving Subject

When your shooting something that is moving across the frame you will need to select the 'Continuous' focusing mode. This tells the camera to keep tracking your subject the entire time your shutter button is half pressed, up until you take the shot. It is also a good idea to use your high speed drive mode to take a burst of shots, this will increase your chances of getting the shot that you want.

Step 1

Change your camera's focusing mode to its Continuous setting (this is AI-Servo on Canon and AF-C on a Nikon camera).

Step 2

For fast moving subjects it's generally a good idea to use the central AF Point. This helps to ensure you get all of the subject in the frame.

Step 3

Frame up with your active AF Point over the subject and half press the shutter button to engage the AF. Keep you finger half pressed on the shutter button and follow the action for a second or two then shoot a burst of shots.

Good luck!! I hope you are enjoying my blog and find these tips useful. Share your success stories with me too, it would be great to hear about them. 

Check back in a fortnight for A Guide to Sharper Shots - Part 3 How to Freeze Subject Movement.


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