Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Control Freak, Me?

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/500s  ISO-400  PrAP  EV +0.3  95mm
A little piece on spot focusing; I'm a big fan personally.

And I only mention this because a lot of my Paris Photo Tour clients don't use it as a matter of course (before meeting me), which I think is a shame.

The great thing about choosing the very centre as the point which is focused on is that you can quickly and easily point it at whatever you want to be sharp, press the shutter button half way down to fix the focus, recompose and bang!

The alternative is letting the camera decide, and if you've still got it set on one of those all-encompassing modes the chances are you won't be able to get shots like the one above.

It's not a great shot, but it does demonstrate the principle perfectly. With matrix focusing you wouldn't have got the black cat fridge magnets in focus but the Eiffel Towers as shown in the second picture, where I also used spot focusing, of course.

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/400s  ISO-400  PrAP  EV +0.3  95mm
This technique allows you to be so precise and particular in your focusing that I've even been able to focus through keyholes (albeit fairly large ones) on the secret garden on the other side with a pretty cool frame to boot.

Spot focusing is one of my standard settings for wandering around the streets, along with aperture priority, as wide an aperture as possible (F/3.5 - F/5.6 on my Nikon 24-120mm zoom) and an appropriate ISO setting depending on the conditions.

It goes without saying that for parts of the picture to be fuzzy with spot focusing they need to be nearer you or further away from you than the spot focused on. Also, anything else in the shot the same distance away as the spot focused on will also be in focus... I was off to the side of the cat magnets below, with the one on the left being much closer to me than the one on the right, but you knew that, didn't you?

It's now second nature for me to spot focus and recompose, which comes as easily as releasing the shutter itself. Of course there are times when a more overall reading for the focus can be useful, such as when you absolutely need to get a certain shot no matter what.

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/320s  ISO-400  PrAP  EV +0.3  85mm

There are also times when you need to do fancier things, such as choosing the focusing point to be off to the left or right with the camera on a tripod. In general, though, spot focusing serves me fine for the vast majority of cases, giving me the ultimate control I need. Control freak, me?


* Sab Will runs Photo and Curios Tours in Paris, and also manages a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. He writes an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, runs a Meetup group for Paris lovers, interviews Paris personalities and reviews Paris books (on this blog), and even contributes to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what he gets up to out there...

© 2012 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

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