I don’t know if someone will have dedicated themselves to doing a study on the average number of errors we need as photographers to learn photography, how many millions of catastrophes, of useless photos we would have had to shoot until we started to get better images, photographs without errors, how many to be able to anticipate ourselves and solve them before they appear.
And in that hypothetical study, it would also be interesting to know how many of those errors are due to the approach . I am convinced that the errors of approach would occupy a negligible percentage of the global. Because the focus error is the one that will most securely send our photo to the trash.
Luckily, almost everything in this life has a solution, and the approach was not going to be less. Let’s see the most common mistakes and how to solve them.
- Focus and re-frame
- Lack of contrast
- Depth of field
- Minimum focus distance
- Forget Manual Mode
- Focus center out of focus
- Don’t take advantage of the magic of blur
First of all, it is very important that you know what types there are and what they are used for. So you can choose one or the other depending on the situation in front of you. These are the most common types of focus on SLR cameras:
- Single AF or AF-S: For subjects without movement (adult portraits, landscape, architecture, etc.)
- Continuous AF or AF-C: For moving subjects; (the camera maintains focus once we have told it where to focus; it ‘chases’ the subject)
- Auto AF or AF-A: The camera changes from Single to Continuous if the subject we have decided to photograph begins to move.
There is also the focus area , which is nothing more than telling the camera where we are going to place the focus; at a very specific point (unique); at that specific point and in the surrounding area (dynamic), and so on. In general, it is recommended to use the single point for objects or people that are not in motion, and the dynamic one for moving elements (sports, children, etc.).
Each model has a specific number of focus points that help us focus the image. The simplest have less, and as the camera “professionalizes”, these are increasing to cover as much of the frame as possible. Most cameras for amateurs start from 9 focus points, which are more than enough to cover the focus of the image and help us keep the frame.
After this quick review, let’s say you have the camera perfectly configured, this will reduce errors considerably, but unfortunately you are still not safe, let’s continue, seeing a few “typical” approach errors:
1. FOCUS AND RE-FRAME
Well it seems very logical, right ?. We have all done it a thousand times, but sometimes it goes well and many times inexplicably wrong. That “inexplicably” is called parallax error and is explained in the following image:
When re-framing the image , the focal length and therefore the place where the focus has originally focused varies . This is especially noticeable when working with small depths of field ( wide open diaphragms F / 1: 4, F / 1: 8, etc.)
You may have already noticed that if the camera “does not see” it goes crazy looking for focus. The best thing in these situations is to give him what he asks for (more light). If this is not possible, you should help her find the focus. You have several options:
- Make sure you have activated the focus assist light that is integrated into your camera, it is very useful to help you focus on low light situations.
- Help you with a flashlight or laser pointer and so on to indicate the point where you should focus. Then block the focus and shoot.
- Focus on manual.
3. LITTLE CONTRAST IN THE IMAGE
Most cameras focus by contrast, either of tones or textures, so if they find a scene with very low contrast , finding the focus can be especially complicated. For example, imagine a light brown lizard in the middle of the desert sand … Just as it is hard for you to glimpse it, the same happens to your camera.
To do this, you only have two options, either you are looking for a scene of greater contrast (you change the background or the subject) or you focus manually.
Another situation where the autofocus of your camera may feel somewhat lost is in the reflections. Lights, shapes, crystals in between, clouds in a puddle …
- Find an area of the image with good contrast to make it easier to find the focus.
- If you have light, you can try to focus near where you want and increase the depth of field to have everything in focus.
- Focus on manual.
5. DIAPHRAGM AND DEPTH OF FIELD
Do not forget that diaphragm is not only more or less light entering through the lens; It is also greater or lesser depth of field .
Look at the following explanatory chart:
This means that at more closed diaphragms (higher values F / 14, F / 16, etc.), greater depth of field or, what is the same, greater area focused on the image.
So far it is clear, right? Well, do not forget to repeat it in these situations:
You already have the whole family at Christmas ready for the photo of rigor, short in front, high behind, medium in the center. You point, you run to the self-portrait, the light blinks and you already have the picture. A priori it seems that everything is fine, but the day you decide to look at them on the computer, because you see, only the medium ones were focused . What a horror! Do you know why that happened to you? Because you did not put an adequate diaphragm opening so that all the planes were well focused, but above all because before doing it, you did not read this article
Normally in landscapes we are interested that all the planes in the image are sharply focused. For this it is important to configure the camera with closed apertures (larger area focused on the image)
We have said it a thousand times, but it never hurts to repeat it. The eyes are the mirror of the soul, the part that most attracts our attention as human beings from a portrait of another human being (or animal) so a portrait without focus on the eyes is not worth it. Always focus on the eyes unless it is you who do not want, because in approach it is almost worthless, that is the bad thing about the approach, there is no way to fix it in a sufficiently satisfactory way. You can be wrong of a point in the exhibition and save your image quite satisfactorily, but unfortunately, the focus is not so.
7. MINIMUM FOCUSING DISTANCE
Yes, there is, do not insist on photographing the tip of the pencil 1cm from the lens, because unless you have a macro lens, you will not be able to do it. Each focal point has its minimum focus distance , which means that below the indicated one it will not be able to focus satisfactorily. Keep it in mind because sometimes we insist on focusing something desperately without falling into a step back and we would have the image quickly and perfectly focused.
Make sure you are working with adequate speed to avoid moving images. Sometimes the lack of focus is caused by the movement, either from the photographed itself or by the one you print when taking the picture.
- For this it is important that you remember the minimum speed at which you must shoot according to the focal length of your target (1 / Focal length; that is, with a 50mm the approximate minimum speed is 1/50 ‘)
- That you hold the camera correctly to avoid trepidations.
- Use a tripod .
I take this opportunity to show you a video of Mario where it explains very well the operation of the shutter speed and its consequences.
9. FORGET ABOUT THE EXISTENCE OF MANUAL MODE
It will be the solution to almost all your problems. So if you can not focus, do not forget about its existence, it will save you in many situations, especially in those in which you do not need speed when focusing.
10. CENTER OF INTEREST OUT OF FOCUS
You were miraculously photographing your pet posing for you for once, but in the background your little brother appeared in a squeaky spiderman dress that attracted the attention of your autofocus and completely shattered your image. Courage, they are things that happen, watch the background whenever you can to try to avoid it and block the focus once you are clear. A main focus center out of focus and a focused background … Can you imagine it? To the trash, right ?.
11. DO NOT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE MAGIC OF BLUR
Not everything is sharpness and not everything is focus. The magic of photography is that once you learn to master it, you can do with it everything that goes through your head, be it “right” or “wrong”, the artistic possibilities are endless.
So do not limit yourself to obsess with focus and sharpness, the blur has the magic of focusing and directing our eyes towards the clear areas, you can create magical lights with bokeh or you can shake everything, move it, blur it, what your artistic soul demand in every moment
And you know, if you liked it, it has been useful and you think it may be useful to someone else, please share (Facebook, Google+ or Twitter) Thank you very much!