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Back Button Focus

Lesson 17 from: Documentary Wedding Photography: Capturing Reality

Tyler Wirken

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Lesson Info

17. Back Button Focus

Lesson Info

Back Button Focus

I love this backpack but it's actually from becoming it is not around anymore and it saddens me because I love the size of it how big I can get like everything I need in there but I'm going to be getting a think tank one here pretty soon because they have a new backpack out I think I saw there's just amazing stuff so so go check it out but you always have extra gaff tape people it was important you know you never know okay so we are going to go into bbs it's short for back quentin focus right um this is a huge I think you know this used to be kind of my secret weapon when I talk people right that was before I knew during my mentoring how to really and I get like foundation workshop and stuff and the other workshop I teach at like theirs roots workshop which I used to do some stuff with them too as well just awesome workshop but I used tio I used teo I used to I think that like you know what I'm going to totally this is good this is going to make it worth their money to come here so I c...

an teach him just trick it's going awesome the problem is everybody's picking up on it now and I gotta come up with better things to teach you know but that was before I actually understood quite frankly that what I do in what is actually important on what I do and how you know what I'm actually good at is is mentoring one on one with people in working on them as people as opposed to a here's a really cool trick you know, like I'm better than that now you know so buddy wait so back button focus is still a game changer, right? So all of you guys know about it right? Okay and you'll do it you know it's so funny like every time like all these guys in the middle it's like it's like you know, whatever right, which is great I loved I told I told david at the break I don't think I think and so much for letting me kind of go back and forth on that aperture priority thing that was awesome, you know? And he says he says, you know, I still don't you know if I'm going to do it and I'm like this totally fine like it doesn't bother me I don't care what you do right? You know and and and if you khun you can own it with aperture priority improve me wrong then do it but all I want you to do is don't miss moments right? And if that's holding you back missing moments then maybe you need to think about it just open minds, different things you know? So even you viewers at home you know don't you know what I'm saying is not like you know, set in stone and it's the only way to do it whatever is comfortable as long as the pictures were getting made you know that's all that matters so anyway all right? So back button focus. Okay, so here's here so here we go you guys pretty much understand it but I want to make sure that the people at home are keeping up is that cool? So I'm going to try and try and you know make sure we understand what this is all about so when you buy the camera out of the box the auto focus is set to the shutter button correct, right? All of them even fuji I would imagine right? And so because that's how the majority of people who take pictures know how to do it right all cameras air like that it's one button for everything you know? And so the problem with there's many problems with having your auto focus trick, you know, activated by that button. Okay, the first one is that if it's on the shutter button the camera actually won't shoot a picture unless it's in focus right? And then people are like, well, why would you not want that? Well, there are times that I do not want that you know and again moment trumps everything and I can't I even squirm when I say that it trumps focus because for me it's like, you know in her out you know? And so we don't want that to ever slow us down how many times we beat before you were back button focus right? You were the other way obviously right? And did you have time for any of you guys have times where you're trying to get victor and the moments happening in the camera just like zizi years like come on will you just will not fire right? And so it's like it's like we just can't have that I would rather I would rather have it shoot something a little bit out of focus than not shoot it all because they don't have the moment it all you know, that's that's the main reason why we switch it the other reason is when it comes to basically I mean, like I've tried to teach this to like and have taught it to tons of people and some people get it's really hard for them to grasp onto why we do it and that's why I'm glad to know that you guys all do it, but I want to make sure you're doing it properly and you understand why we're doing it like that's the big thing right? So I am it's the other reason comes down to capturing fleeting moments combined with great compositions right okay, so we all know and we were talking about you know, composition a bit tomorrow but we all know that because tomorrow we're going to dio building the photograph then I'm going to talk about the three main things that I love to talk about it I'm always thinking about is lmc l m c lyte moment composition I had a student one time write it on her merry mchenry I think is what she she that she wrote it on her hand so she could remember asses right there lmc lnc I think I should get tattoos I was actually thinking about doing like like fake tattoos for you guys that had like an l m c logo but I didn't get around to it way should all get lmc tattoos so yeah, not there because then you can't you have a mirror to make sure you remind yourself mitzi what's what's cml you know then you can't figure that so anyway, so we'll talk about that tomorrow but like the back button and focus and I'm actually you know, I talked about it in my live shoot today when you watch me you know it's like I'm shooting back but focus and then what you can do is you khun basically lock that focus and you can just free yourself up to just khan citrate on capturing that peak action as as we say, the decisive moment cartier bresson you guys don't know who car that he was the decisive moment father basically on dh so and so I feel that like the back button focus is like the only way to go in that in that regard so what I mean by back button focuses instead of having my auto focus triggered with this button it actually triggers with this button right? Um now you have two choices on most cameras I don't know how I don't know about your cameras meant, but I know you can do it. Um has two to two different options. Yeah, so most new cameras have like an f on or a star but mine's on the star because I want to use the biggest button I confined sometimes I find it hard you just had to ergonomically see where your thumb goes the best, but you have two options on where you can actually put your back, but focus some nikon cameras don't have two options, but we're going to talk about that a little bit when I show you how to have set these things up. But the key here the key here is to is to allow yourself to make images like this right where you can layer what's going on and then you can wait for the actual moment and it frees your fingers up right? So if you're to make this photo and you're not, and you're not back button focus you either a I have to push the button down halfway. I put put the focus point right focus point, which shows his red focus points in the viewfinder that tell you where to focus you put there or where the focus is set, you put the focus point on that person and recompose, but then you gotta hold the button down halfway because if you let go of it and you hit it again, it's kind of re focus and try and focus on the people in the foreground, right? Okay, um, or you have to focus and they hit another button to focus lock and then you gotta hold that button down and don't don't let it go and then go like this and then shoot. Well, what if you have to now change your aperture really quick? Or what? If you have to change your shutter speed, you can't let those fingers those fingers aren't free than to do something else, right? That makes sense, so those fingers have to be free. So this finger is for shooting and for adjusting shutter speed. This finger is for adjusting aperture and for focus and that's it right and so it's too bad you don't have like we can't have like another thumb there's a product maybe I can figure out like a glove you put on that has like a prosthetic thumb that can adjust your aperture and focus at the same time or or learn a new way to kind of like hold the camera like this you know anyway kind of funny but so you have to do you know you know those are that mean everything has to have its own purpose right? So you know it's muscle memory again it just like that racecar driver that racecar driver knows that over here is this switch over here is this here's the gearshift lever? You know they don't know they can drive a car blindfold basically cause they muscle memory they know exactly we're to go to pick something up it's kind of it's kind of funny how the body does that on dso back button focus so we had to set up our camera two use one of these back buttons to focus with now there's this is a really kind of complicated thing to learn and so I have to I have to go slow hopefully that people online err are keeping up um because we also talk about focus points right? Because every time I teach this there's always a rebuttal right? But I just moved my focus points it's the same thing right? Like no, not at all um I actually hardly ever almost never moved my focus points right, I'm on ly using the center focus point because a it's the strongest, right and be if I move a focus point cause to change one little thing of what my muscle memory is that I'm I'm tripping myself up, right? Because for that picture, I'm doing something a little bit different than I normally do. Does that make sense? So, like when that camera comes to my face, I literally have the exact same process that I go through for every single solitary picture I make, right? I put the subject in the dead center, I get focused and then I, you know, get my exposure, but the center put this up in the center, get focused and then recompose and shoot right? But it's always in the same place, right? So what I'm constantly doing and you'll see me today when I showed the video as I'm cost that mike, my cameras, like constantly doing this is probably why I have motion blur, right? But I'm constantly grabbing focus and re composing, right? And so if I move that focus point, I move them sometimes very rarely, but it's on ly in a situation that I am in control of and not in control of, but I know that I have time to think and make sure I reset it. Does that make sense now? I know that like you can do all these things these cameras and if you move your focus point, you can actually tap tap the focus thing to put it back to the center and stuff like that but that's just another step that is out of my normal routine does that does that make sense? Right? So it's kind of like what I'm you know, if you find an airplane, you don't want all of a sudden like changes step because if you put her in the ground here in big trouble, you know, so I just kind of keep all my steps the same and I got too much to think about moment light moment composition, light moment composition, light moment composition you know, I'm tired, my arm hurts oh my god, I just missed that all that stuff I got to think about, I don't want to think about putting my focus point back to where it was, so I just keep it in the center go for that. The cool thing about the five day mark three is this got like some really awesome um auto focus is really heavily improved from the five day mark too, like I put the five day march in my hand and I'm like a and I just don't want to play I don't want touch anymore so try to get one on dso because it's got it's got like this little cluster in the middle that that you can choose and I'm not really smart about that stuff I have ah past student who's like crazy smart his name is potrero and he's out of san diego and it's when I got the five d I had to look up something that he had written on a blogger about how to set the fight the menus air so complicated I just like copied what he did he's just so so so so so smart and it's just amazing he's even developed like just on his own he's just like you I'm just gonna develop album proofing software which which which I'm going to mention tomorrow and it's just like I'm like I'm like you just did that he's like yeah I was just hanging around when I just hold that up a little bit you know it's really awesome anyway but if you have a fire demark three and you want to kind of see some of those settings you know try and try and google that and look it up editor a t r e I should know his name but he's a student on time he's a good friend of mine but that's kind of cool so it's a but I had to go and I learn all that so I don't even know exactly what this camera all does I'm just like you know I don't have time to deal with it I'm going to look at somebody and what they did set it up and go for it so does that make sense in the focus points you guys you know why why we don't want to move them too much and it's slow and people I've had students make it I'm I'm really fast look I'm really, really fast at moving I'm like you're not fast enough in my opinion like the type of pictures I'm looking for you just can't be that fast and then and then I and then I'll show them and then I'll be like and then they'll do it in a lot of times they're fast but it's not like it's still contribute you up for this kind of photography if you're if you're not like a huge moment guy and your growl when you're and you're and you're not trying to nail that stuff it's probably just fine you have time to like moving around that kind of stuff on ly time I move um is jim this was to answer that question about how do I focus recompose we'll talk about it now is so focus re composing I know I'm going to be bouncing around in this back button focus a little bit I just want to make sure I hit points when I remember them okay so focus rick composing is uh you know, you know the idea of back button focuses I have my my, uh like for this image, right? I have my have my focus point the center, right? So as I as I framed this picture up I moved my camera over like this I point the focus pointed them I hit focus and then I recomposed and move the camera back to this composition and then and then and then the cool thing about about back glutton focuses assuming they don't move or I don't move because you know how how focus works focus is like a a plane, right? So if you're if if if if I'm shooting you and I'm focused on you and we don't move and I focused once I could just shoot all day long and not and you're still gonna be in focus, but if you move back, then I have to refocus and even sideways movement it doesn't matter because you're because you're moving sideways on that same plane, right? So your depth of field and if you get mohr depth of field meaning you have a higher aperture, which means mme or things are going to be in focus, I consider it like a a pane of glass in a way like if it's a panic if I'm a pane of glass and I have a really low aperture on ly the front part of that thick piece of glass is going to be in focus, right? But if I up my aperture and closed that down now, all of a sudden, that depth of field gets larger, and I have more of that piece of glass in in focus, right? And so it took me it took me almost a semester in college to understand up the field like I could not get it, like I was just like, I don't understand what do you mean? You change the lens and it messes up the depth of field, you know, because wide angle lenses have an inherent built in large, off the field, telephoto lenses have compression and has a less depth of field, even at the higher numbers and it's, just like, blew my mind as if I don't get it. And finally, like ariel scott in the class are like, I don't understand your problem is I finally got it one day, obviously, but anyway, so so, you know, I'm I'm looking at, um, trying to assuming that couple is just sitting there and dancing like this, like a grade dance, you know, they just kind of bob, you know, then I'm probably in pretty good shape to just focus once recomposed, and then now the focus is just done right and in theory is done set it and forget it and then you just shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot and then you can kind of move and and kind of move just a little bit back and forth to kind of get your frame and then if that light changes on their faces now your hand is free to go so so that that like got brighter on their faces what would I do as I'm shooting to the right right to the right right and if it gets darker or changes to the left but I can still do that and in theory those people are still in focus so now I can free my hands up to do all that kind of stuff right that makes sense so the problem is now you have to focus recompose and this is going to that question earlier was theoretically you could put you could move your focus point on to those people and just sit there and then just keep hitting the button because you had to just hit the button to focus you could just keep hitting the button because the focus points on them and it will stay in focus right and so that's the on ly time that I changed my focus points is if it's in a situation where they are not going to move like let's say a ceremony okay and there sitting at that altar for like an hour and I'm in the back I got this great composition that's like a vertical picture and there at the bottom or something like that I get I get tired of going back and checking focus all the time and making sure that nothing is out of focus, so I'll move my focus point in that situation and then I can just sit there and just kind of keep my composition just hit it and shoot and hit it in shoot does that make sense? Right? And so so anyway uh it's, that is that's that's essentially the only time I ever like worry about folk you were composing because here's the one thing about focus re composing with distance is um s o I like lost sleep over this a long time ago because I would be like, why is my stuff out of focus? Focus recompose I know I hit that button why's it not focusing and it's because it has to do with distance, so so so so so let's say I'm I'm down low, right? And I'm shooting I'm shooting somebody standing up, right? And if I if I point the camera up with them to get my focus on their face right and then I recompose what just happened yeah, you guys are much smarter than I am, so I had to like doing research on this and so basically because it's all about distance if I do this now my focus point is behind them right and I'm like oh my god I guess soon as I realized that I was like this is not good like I can't do this it's not gonna work and what aperture do I need to make sure they're in focus and I finally was just like you know I can't worry about it all right I just had to deal with it and if it's gonna happen it's gonna happen you know and it does happen and that's the on ly time now that I like would you move my focus point is if I have a really extreme composition that's wide angle I will move my focus point and put it down there so at least my distance now is not as extreme does that make sense you know so yeah that's a long time I do that otherwise I just I just finally accepted the fact that I can't I can't do everything and I'm just gonna go for it but that's only if you're doing a shallow depth of field will sure but that's what I want my pictures you look like right shooting always between two and four I don't I'm not sure you'd have eight you know eleven typically for me right and I'm not saying you can't good golly you know there's a guy I know a fair do you guys know fair worry sti hey guys, right he's awesome he was he was a student of mine a foundation one time like they teach you like he killed it anyway he's awesome he's an amazing photographer and more amazing person but he shoots high attitude all the time right? But he's like totally in charge of his backgrounds right so you can shoot it f ate all you want but you just better make sure you're shooting up against the wall like this right or something like that, you know, so there's there are ways but for me and the where I'm shooting the kind of moment I'm getting I'm not I don't have that kind of control over my background, you know? So I have to control it with my depth of field, right? So therefore I have I run into that problem with that kind of stuff you know makes sense and folks in a chat room want to know if you do have any problems shooting at such wide open apertures when you're doing of course constantly that's why shoot the crap at everything praying that some things in focus yeah yeah I mean that's that's the problem right? You know it's like it's like a soon as I go above like to wait or four it's amazing how much sharper everything is but then a lot of times the background will be crappy, you know right and so but you can also control your background and control your depth of field with your feet and the distance you are from your subjects so the closer you are to your subject even if I shot you from here at f four or right there f or it would look the background look totally different because you know it's the same aperture right I'm changing the distance and then that's what's making the background fall off mark you know it makes sense right so so yeah I do have problems all the time and but I'm never shoot I never have light to shoot in right so so so therefore I'm just used to maybe be in that low right you know cool right makes sense guys okay so here's here's here's the dealio um nikon the a e l a f l slash a f on button is where you put is where the back button I think would be on a night con I did some research so basically the f l a l is one button or if it says a f dash on button is where you would is where you would rig it up on your nikon camera to have the back button focus uh assigned to so I don't know anything else you gotta look it up yourself man I just I barely know how to do a nightgown and then on cannon it's either the a f on button or what I prefer is the star on the back because it's a bigger button it's easier for me to find with my big fat fingers right? Okay um examples of where it really works this is an image from courtney's wedding we talked to yesterday, right? This is her waiting in the back of the church for things that get started so back but focus is really great here because what I did is she ain't moving and I ain't moving and so we just hit that focus that I could just get my composition and then I could just shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot and not to worry about focus changing to the doorframe or anything and shoot and then and then I can also be like, oh, I need more aperture because I want that picture of jesus to be recognizable as I'm student meet me maybe I'll bump my aperture up so now my fingers are freed and now I just my exposure as I'm doing it and in theory I don't have to worry about her becoming out of focus right? Unless she moves or I move and the problem that I have with you know that that question jim about the aperture problem I think it's all about I think that's one of the most of my focus problems come from is it's I think it's technique for me, I think when I'm composing a picture, I hit the focus first and then I started moving myself to compose the picture and that's where my focus issues were coming from and it drives me insane and you know what my luck is I'm going to get the one that sharp that's like a horrible moment and the good moments going to be out it's like just drives me insane, but I think that I'm trying to get better at that like plant myself just kind of move the camera around, but that's what I'm doing, I'm kind of watching things and I'm moving, so I am constantly doing a dance where I'm like constantly going and grabbing focus again and coming back just to make sure maybe I do it too much because I'm so paranoid about it. But that's a great example I love that photo it's just an awesome awesome image it's such a hard thing to compose because I wanted to take I should go into the car and gotten a hammer and move the jesus picture over because it was too far away and I couldn't back up anymore, but you know, that would have been a little you know, I'm I'm okay with like, you know, doing that kind of stuff but just don't mess it until a kid I do not rearrange people's houses anyway, churches here's here's another example I love this is my favorite images of every shot right there's a long time ago it was a wedding in mere woods in san francisco right? And I was like freaking out it was the hardest thing I show up and like it was at this time of day and literally there was like just like spots was like spots on everybody's faces of light like like it was horrible like come to the trees and I finally found this angle and I was like, oh god, I think I write and so what happened was the light's coming through bouncing off his shirt into her face lights bouncing off the officiant paper into his face and it just so happens there in this dark area, right? So I set I wanted so so light light was my light was my deciding factor here right in terms of light moment composition I started with light and so I set my exposure right for the highlights basically so the light on their faces and I could not this could be a spot meter situation, you know, but I but then again it's changing something up if I change it to spot meter then I gotta remember to put it back to value to write so I just got close but it's really easy to expose for this because you can actually just pointed up to here and getting exposure reading and then you're pretty close you see I'm saying so you see you look for the brightness I got that exposure he looked about the camera fine tune it and then I hit focus on probably him because trying to get focused on her and that she and they're that small is kind of hard to hit with a wide angle right it's easier to hit focus with like an eighty five because everything's kind of it's already compressing everything so like the backgrounds going blurry so that people pop out it's easier to hit the focus on a thirty five it's all that depth of field is all there so it's really hard for me too sometimes like pinpoint the focus I want does that make sense? You know so I try and choose what's closest and then I just recomposed then I could just sit there and just shoot shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot and I wish there was a moment that happened when I was there but you know what? Take what you can get I love that photo because what it does is it really sums up what it felt like to be there in that big place you know, all right making sense good, same thing here love this photo as well of ah of that's his daughter that's the dad speaking to his new son in law about doing his speech and he's talking to two the groom and that's thea and that's his daughter listening to the speech and her dad talk about her in the background and I love that photo you know that was a lie about this a long time ago and I really wish I would have dialed up somewhere aperture somewhere depth of field because that guy kind of looks kind of you know skeletor or ish you know but it's you know what it is what it is I shot I shot that with a one thirty five I think at half two but you know that's where that that's where that focus recompose and just wait for the moment you know that's the key right there right it's extreme composition with peak moment that's why you do it one hundred percent because you can't you can't let anything she's gotta wait so you basically you set your exposure get your composition and you wait for the moment because it's not like she sat there the whole time she's packing for like four minutes straight you know I mean she just like you know it's really quick and so if you try and get all that stuff done and try and capture the moment you're not gonna get it right and so we're going to go into that next tomorrow as well also uh another example right extreme composition I worked really hard to line up all these lines right, because if I moved too far to the left, what happened was, I saw the side of this. You see that. So I worked really hard to make all of these lines line up to be a composition that works for me. And then I just hit focus on her. And then I just because if you move that composition screwed, right, you move a little bit it's over. So I did, like, sit there with that composition, not move. And then just like, did you get the and get the moment right?

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Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Tyler calls 'em like he sees'em. He gets it: capture the emotion, the expression, the feelings of a wedding without preoccupation with perfect posing, perfect lighting, perfect camera settings. An image of a father's expression seeing is daughter in her dress for the first time is far more important than trying to get it framed just right. Anticipate. Watch. Don't interrupt a moment. This is a great series to refocus on the true meaning of why we shoot weddings.

a Creativelive Student

Recommend but with one big caveat. This class is useful in terms of his approach and mindset. I found it really inspiring in that respect. It's worth watching if you want to broaden your mind and make your wedding photography more interesting. Don't bother with this class if you are looking to improve technically, Tyler isn't a great technician and most of the info he provides in that respect is garbage and outdated. He also comes across as very arrogant at times and he's not a great instructor.

Chethan Kumar

Tyler is not just an awesome wedding Photographer but a very good human being. Love the way he speaks, teaches and respect students and their work. I enjoyed each and every bit of this learning and learnt a lot. Thanks creative live and Tyler. Regards, Chethan Cks Photolab Melbourne|Australia

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