Getting an in-focus, super sharp photo was one of the things that I struggled with the most when I first became interested in photography.
You want to take sharp in-focus photos because the viewer’s eye is naturally drawn to the sharpest part of a picture. It can be really difficult to look at an out-of-focus photo if the subject is fuzzy but the background is sharp.
I’ve also struggled with taking soft-focus photos, meaning that my subject is relatively in-focus, but it’s not as clear or sharp as I’d like it to be.
Lots of mistakes can be corrected in post-processing, but focus is not one of them.
You have to get your focus correct in-camera.
|Super sharp and in focus.|
|My focus here is a little soft. But I still love this picture!|
So today I want to share my number one focusing tip with you.
When you look through your viewfinder and push your shutter halfway down your camera will attempt to focus. Your focusing screen will pop up through your viewfinder and this is where the magic can happen.
Depending on your camera and what mode you’re shooting in, it’ll look something like this:
Now, if you’re shooting in any mode but Auto you’ll be able to toggle between your focusing points (those little squares) so that you can select where in your frame you want to focus.
You just have to find your right settings…
There are different focusing modes and zones depending on your camera. On my Canon the auto focus point selection screen looks like this.
I choose to shoot in the manual spot AF mode. This means that I’m able to manually select one of my focus points for every photo. Depending on your camera there are also zone focusing options. These will give you some control, but not as much as manual.
Once you have your settings figured out so that you can choose one focus point you need to decide where to put it.
When shooting portraits I like to focus on the eye closest to me. More specifically I try to focus on the inside corner of the eye. You typically want the eyes to be the focal point of your shot and focusing on the eyes will make that happen!
|The red square is the selected focus point.|
Now, once focus is locked in you just have to hope your subject doesn’t move before your shutter snaps. As long as she stays on the same plane she should be safely in focus.
It takes a lot of practice to get this right. And I still miss focus more than I’d like to, mostly due to moving kids! But shooting in manual AF selection mode gives you more control which means focus is up to you!
So check your camera’s manual to figure out how to get the right settings, and then get out there and shoot!