In Camera… Tip o’ the Morning to you, Guvnor! #1
Perfect Camera FOCUS – Every Time!
Now, I didn’t get where I am today purely by being a good looking dame with an eye for the Ladies! Though this did help, I also had to learn how to use a camera along the way. And here, step by step, for you lucky people, I shall pass on what the hardened photography hacks from the School of Hard Knocks taught me… and goodness, you don’t even have to batt your eyelids at me for it!
I am going to begin at the beginning – the Very Beginning. So, if you are already a super duper papper, do bear with me. Shortly, we’ll take it up a notch or two… but let’s get the Class Dunce up to scratch first 😉
A word of warning, though – even if you are somewhat of a super duper papper, ignore some of these early posts at your peril – it’s surprising what we can all forget sometimes.
So, without further ado, may I present…
#1 FOCUS POCUS…DON’T SHOOT FIRST & ASK QUESTIONS AFTERWARD!
If your photo’s main subject is not in focus, you have had it! Nothing you can do, no amount of post processing and sharpening will make it good enough. Now… do you need some Focus Pocus? It’s NOT magic – but it will seem like it!
This entry came to me in a flash of inspiration. A flash which hit me (rather like a lightning bolt) when I casually asked Mr Demuir to take a potshot or two at me for a last minute publicity shoot. It was less a case of ‘Quis custodiet custodias?’ than of ‘Who paps the photographer?’ (but my Latin won’t rise to this occasion). Mr Demuir, you see, dutifully stepped up to the table, took my camera with care and began shooting away. I got into it and many exciting, vintage photographs ensued. Ahem…
I am so used to FOCUSSING that I very rarely examine my in-camera images. I extended this trusting courtesy to Mr Demuir as well. I realised, on relieving him of my camera, that his images were blurry (an extraneous chicken who just happened to be wandering through the shot looked perfect whilst I was a nasty smudge in the far corner) and they were inconsitent with it – thus, the chicken featured prominently once and next time, a random table leg did instead. I realised that Mr Demuir, Bless Him, does not know how to focus.
And this got me thinking…
You, too, will have seen the holiday snaps, cycling through on your best friend’s computer, where the details of the mountain flora leap out at you whilst your friend’s friends face, directly in front, is unrecognisable. And the snaps of that party last night on FB, where the photographer appears to have been more well-oiled than those in the pictures? And haven’t you ever found yourself thinking (with disappointment): ‘Oh, but they looked OK in camera!’ (The truth is, they always look OK in camera… it’s when you get them off that it’s a wildly different story).
Now, I want to thank Mr Demuir publicly for bringing this issue to my attention. It is not, after all, a problem which a professional photographer usually has! But it clearly can cause issues for others, so I shall solve this pretty pickle for you. The good news is, it’s not difficult, Ladies & Gents – and though getting focussed pictures may resemble something of an arcane art, you have Miss Ruby Demuir to guide you…
WHY DOES POOR FOCUS HAPPEN?
Laziness! How many people read the instructions which come with their camera? and
You see, most lack of focus is – temporarily – covered up by:
1. people owning cameras whose image resolution (their number of megapixels) is greater than they will ever need (understand that when a huge ‘out of focus’ image is presented as a small ‘out of focus’ image, the ‘out of focusness’ of it is a lot less noticeable) and
2. people uploading to the web mostly – teeny weeny images always look in focus!
So, I hear you say, if the problem is ‘covered up’, why bother doing anything about it?
How about because:
1. it’s only temporarily covered up – what about when you want to print? Or to look at it in real size?
2. if you are taking a picture, you are taking a memory – it matters! Or you wouldn’t be taking it and
3. if you are taking a picture, you might as well make it as sharp and as focussed a picture as you can – it takes no longer to take a beautiful picture than it does to take a dreadful one, after all!
OK, MISS DEMUIR, YOU HAVE CONVINCED ME. SO, HOW DO I GET FOCUSSED IMAGES?
There are many ways (I’ll be covering more every fortnight or so on this part of the blog) but today, here’s the ONE which will make the most difference, anyway.
Don’t JUST POINT AND SHOOT!
Take a moment – that is all it takes. First, choose where you want to focus, place the focus ‘square’ in your viewfinder over this area and then HALF DEPRESS THE SHUTTER and HOLD IT THERE! This will focus your camera on the spot you have chosen. If you release now, the focus on that area will be lost. If you depress now, you will take the picture – and, here’s the key point – that picture will be beautifully focussed on the area you want!
There is a proviso: AUTO may screw this up for you sometimes. AUTO is just that, it chooses everything – whether you want flash, what aperture and shutter speed you want and… where it thinks you want to focus. Sometimes, it can get it wrong! If you shoot, in AUTO this will happen – so try to shoot in ‘P’ or equivalent (Programmed auto) instead where you can (for most situations, it will do just as good a job). More on this later.
An Unexpected BONUS!
Whilst you are holding the shutter release button halfway (ensuring that the correct part of your image is in focus) shift your camera to one side! YES, DO IT! Because the second biggest mistake that non-professional photographers make is to take images with their subject slap bang in the middle of the frame. It screams ‘amateur’, Darling. More on this in a fortnight’s time but, for now… you won’t be making that mistake again, will you?!
Yes, Folks… it’s really as simple as that. Which is precisely what you – and I – want 🙂
Let me know how you get on, won’t you?
Until next time,
Miss Ruby Demuir is the Vintage and Boudoir Photographer in Norwich, England. She is currently writing a book on DIY Vintage Photography!
ps. Feel free to link to this page and to point those who’d be interested it to it! Of course, though, it remains my copyright 🙂