Portrait focus hacks when you’re in low light

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This is the best focus hack ever.

Have you ever had trouble with auto focus on your DSLR, particularly in low light or low contrast? Here are two awesome focus hacks that will get your images pin sharp.

1. Shine a torch
If you’re working with flash then shine a torch onto the area you want to focus on. I use this technique when I’m working with really shallow depth of field portraits that I’m shooting in low light or when my modeling lights aren’t strong enough. The extra contrast you create in the shot will make it easier for your cameras auto focus system to detect and edge and lock on for a super sharp image.

All you need is a portable penlight size flash that runs off AAA or AA batteries or even one of those LED keyring lights will do the trick.

2. Use the screen of your smartphone
If you’re shooting portraits that are very backlit or in lowlight or low contrast the cameras auto focus tends to get really confused and curl up in the corner and cry for it’s momma. The obvious work around is to shoot manual mode but unless you have super hero vision this can be a hit and miss focus exercise.

The best hack I’ve found for this situation is to ask someone to hold a smartphone in front of the area you need to focus on. The bright screen gives the camera the perfect area to lock focus on.
Once you have locked focus, change your focus mode to manual, and as long as your model doesn’t move you will have tack sharp focus.

I usually recheck focus every 10 or so frames, particularly if I’m shooting wide open or I suspect my models moved a bit or just because I’m a paranoid photographer and have a few trust issues!

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