In this Snapshot minisode, Gina and Valerie discuss what you need to do to nail focus on a portrait. Many new photographers struggle with getting pin sharp focus even though they are seemingly following all tricks in the book. Gina reveals a step by step approach so that you can ensure you get the right focus every time.
Also, if you’re ready to start hiring assistants on your shoots (whether you just want them to lug your gear or go so as far as set to up your shots) you’ll discover where you find them, no matter where you live.
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How to nail focus
- The camera’s AF system works by detecting contrast
- When photographing someone in a well-lit environment on a narrower aperture
- F 5.6 or higher there are rarely focus issues because even if you misfocus on a shoulder or nose instead of eyes the eyes will still be in focus because the narrower aperture
allows for more of the image to be in focus
- Things start to get tricky when you shoot on wider apertures f4 F2.8 or lower
- At these wider apertures, the focal plane is very narrow and it’s easy to misfocus
- Other factors that influence focus include contrast and lens quality
Spend 5 minutes each day focusing on tiny items
- Start with narrower apertures and work on nailing expression
- Work off a tripod and photograph subjects that are not moving
- Shoot single focus and move your focus point over the eye
- Enable single focus point selection
- Enable focus indicator light and beep on your camera so you know when you are locked on
- Shoot in bright lighting and avoid backlighting
- Default setting is camera selects focus point or single focus in the middle of the screen
- Change this to single AF select method.
- This allows you to scroll AF points around and place them where needed.
- Once you’ve got the hang of single AF focus on the narrower apertures try opening up to a wider aperture (shallower depth of field)
- Get familiar with the distance your lens will focus from
- If you are too close to your subject your lens won’t be able to focus.
- Test your lenses focus distance
When using zooms avoid extremes
Diopter next to eyepiece
Where to find assistants:
- Low end: Photography groups/schools
- Uni students are good
- Experienced: Hire studios will have an assistant’s register
- Google works too!
- Ask other photographers
- Good idea to ask for references, list of gear and software the assistant is familiar with
- High rate doesn’t always = good assistant either