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Nature and Landscape Photography

Lesson 12 of 27

Focus: Modes, Points and Buttons

John Greengo

Nature and Landscape Photography

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

12. Focus: Modes, Points and Buttons

Lesson Info

Focus: Modes, Points and Buttons

we've been making a way through a lot of the technical gymboree driver stuff and now we are on our way to focus which is one of the most critical things having sharp focus in our pictures and there's a lot of things that we need to be aware of and there's a lot of things going on and a lot of technology involved so let's just start off with a few of the basics and the rule of focusing is that you absolutely have to nail it miss focused image is completely unacceptable if you're going to show your portfolio to somebody and you have an image that is a little out of focus you might as well just throw the whole portfolio away at that point you should not ever include that in your portfolio because there's just no reason for it it's just carelessness not getting things right and so you have to have things sharp now having said that what about the possibility of shock sharpening up afterwards raw images do need a little bit of sharpness added to them for printing for screen purposes and that...

's kind of part of the standard process but if you shoot a picture out of focus can you fix it now the answer is no well what about in the future what about with some science fiction software will we be able to fix out of focus pictures and my assumption on that is no we will not if you don't have information in that detail for instance on this background right here we've got some wood planks if this goes completely out of focus you're not going to be able to see the line here and there is no program in the world that's going to do know that they're supposed to be a line right here in the line right here and so if it's out of focus no we won't be able to fix it in the future I do believe and there are cameras out right now that you can shoot that records light in a completely different manner and it records kind of all levels of focus and you can decide on how much depth of field and where you want that focus later on so I think that's a very real capability and fewer cameras but I think the ability to save out of focus pictures is about zero so you really have to do everything to get him right and there's a lot of things going on in your camera to help you get it right and you need to know how to make the best use of those tools in your camera first off when you are focusing it's really nice when you have a lens that has an actual focusing scale on it that's that little indicator upon the top that tells you where you are focused as you focus the lens or the lenses auto focusing when you focus on close up shop subjects the lenses are moving away from the camera body which is why when we put on that extension two that we talked about earlier we're moving the body and the lens further apart so that we could focus closer up when you focus to infinity than lenses are typically moving back closer to the film plane in the body now something to realize if you'll notice on the distance scale that I have illustrated here there is an infinity mark and a little arrow right beside it for an angled mark the angled mark that ninety degree angle is where infinity is at many lenses most lenses can focus a little past infinity that's right your lenses focus beyond infinity and this is to accommodate for heat and cold contraction if your lens focused just up to infinity and then the parameters slightly changed you may not be able to focus on infinity and so what they do is they allow lenses to focus beyond infinity and this is very important to know if you ever want to do star point photography at night because what you cannot do is take your lands and just rack it all the way to the infinity side because if you do that you're actually going probably passed infinity so be aware if you have a focusing scale like this on your lens that you have infinity and something beyond infinity and I guess a further point on that is that the mark that it says for infinity is not always correct it may depend on the air temperature or pressure or something else being slightly different in your lands and so if you are wanting to know where infinity is you need to kind of check it in daytime focus on something an infinity and then look at it on your lands wind doing landscape photography I am going to be working in manual focus quite a bit of the time I do like auto focus from time to time and I will be going back and forth and I'll be talking specifically how I do that but one of the things that I prize on cameras and lenses is good systems for manual focusing when other things that I dislike about those kit lenses is that they have very narrow focusing rings very narrow plastic focusing rings with no distance information at all ah much better system is a nice wide rubberized focussing ring so you have something nice and easy to grab onto that's got a nice smooth turning to it also having a distant scale is a major benefit and I love those likea lenses that have beautiful focusing rings on them as well is great depth the field skills I'm gonna explain these a little bit more in depth in a section coming up but these depth of field scales having those all laid out can really help you figure out how to set the camera for maximum depth of field one of the other tools that you should be familiar with for many situations is magnified playback and this is just simply where you play back an image that you have shot and you go in and you zoom in all these can all the cameras have this and you can check check sharpest out in the field this way you can be really sure that you got your image as sharp as possible and so you want to zoom in usually to the maximum amount to see if your image is sharp and you don't have movement from the tripod moving or wind blowing it or hand holding any issues like that it's so make sure that you know howto work those on your camera because you're going to be using those quite a bit let's talk about auto focus and I'm not going to go through all the basics like I did in my fundamental lt's last but you should be aware of the focusing points that you have on your camera the number one problem that most amateurs have when they're using a digital slr who may not be familiar with it is they point their camera at a subject like this and they pressed down on the shutter release and the cameras just doesn't want to focus and they don't understand that you have to have a subject that has contrast in front of those brackets for focusing now there's a lot of different cameras in the market that will range anywhere from nine focusing points all the way up to I think ninety nine focusing points on one of the cameras out there so be aware of how to change these focusing points and when you were going to want to use them for different types of subjects for most of my landscape work I'm going to leave it in the single point mode because I want to be very specific about what I'm choosing if I'm shooting sports photography I'm usually choosing a group point if my camera house that I like the five point I like the nine point options that are available on many cameras many cameras don't have it many entry levels don't camera have that and what I would use in that case is I would use all the points I typically don't like all the points because it kind of reaches a little bit two white of area but that would be more in action photography the focusing mode is controlling how your camera is focusing the first option the basic option is what's called single auto focus often known as f s and what happens here is the camera will focus on a subject and as soon as it figures out and says okay at it it stops focusing and this is the type of system that I will use for many different types of photography so in a case like this this is at yellowstone national park I want the tree and focus and what I'm gonna do is I'm going to move the camera over to get that center focusing bracket which is my act of focusing point I will press halfway down on the shutter release to focus on my subject but that's not the final composition I want I leave my finger halfway down on that shutter and then I recomposed the photograph to get the composition that I want and I pressed the rest of the way down this is called focus lock and it's something that you should have mastered by this time it's very basic concept works really good when you want to take a picture of two people standing side by side you focus on one move the focusing points so they're both in the frame and you have him nice and sharp in the background is nice and blurry so that is kind of convenient for handheld photography but this doesn't work out real well when you're on a tripod because you're having to press halfway down recomposed the camera lock in the tripod while your fingers halfway down and that's just too much stuff going on and it's going to be hard to keep your finger halfway down in that locked position while you're on a tripod and if you re focus then once it's locked down on the tripod it's going to refocus on the lake in this case and that tree is going to be out of focus and so it's a system that works fine for handheld photography but does not work real well for those working off of a tripod the other type of focusing that we're not going to use much in landscape photography is the continuous focusing system this is for sports photography's for action wildlife where subjects are moving around no one is a servo r a f c this is where the camera is constantly adjusting focus forward and backwards as your subject is getting closer to you and moving away from you and that is as I say pretty much exclusively used in action photography so you have your focusing points which is where you focus and the focusing mode which is how you focus and for landscape photography I am virtually always in a single point single auto focus I want to be very specific about what I'm focusing on I wanted to focus and stop when I do action photography I'm usually in group and continuous and so those are the two modes that I kind of bounced between depending on what I'm doing now the way this is controlled in the camera through the different focusing buttons and there's three different buttons that you might or might not have on your camera the first one I know you have this one it's your shutter release it's where the camera also activates the focusing system and this is kind of the standard way cameras come from the factory all of them do and that is when you press halfway down on the shutter release the camera activates the light meter of the camera and the focusing system and the focusing starts to try to achieve whatever his sharpest focus once it's achieved you compress all the way down and get your nice sharp picture so that's the standard system that is out there now one of the options that most all cameras have is a button on the back of the camera called a f la stands for auto focus lock if you want to lock the focus in rather than pressing and holding halfway down what you could do in this case is once the camera is focused you simply just press down on the lock button and it will lock the focus in now just as our no a lot of cameras call this an a l button or a a f l or a combination of those two there's an auto exposure lock and an auto focus lock and on many cameras this is very important note this is not turned on by default you have to go into the menu system and say yes I want this button to act as an auto focus lock so if that's something you want to do you may need to check into your cameras instruction manual in order to so that is one option so rather than leaving your finger halfway down on the shutter release your pressing a button on the back of the camera but it gets to be a little too much button pressing for a lot of photographers including myself and there's another system that has developed that is much more popular that is often referred to as back button focusing and what this is doing is it is eliminating the focus in the shutter release and we're activating focus with a button on the back of the camera and so this needs to be done in the light meter or excuse me in the menu system where we turn off the option of focusing with our shutter release so now what we're going to do is we're going to start with a button on the back of the camera called a phone in a number of cameras but not all have an f on button on the back of the camera there are a number of entry level cameras let's take for instance a canon rebel camera for instance there'll be a button on the back of the camera that says a e l f l but if you go into the custom functions you can re program it to be an a f on button and so you're gonna have to look very carefully because the wording is a little bit tricky in there so the idea is you press with the back button to focus and then when you want to take a picture you compress down for the light meter and press down to take the picture and the beauty is that once the cameras focused you don't need to keep refocusing because once it's focused it's done and you can continue shooting pictures and so these a f on buttons usually will say a f on right on its very easy to see what's going on and so once again on the back button focusing it's not something I recommend to everyone it's not something I recommend to amateur photographers or somebody just getting started because it's complicated the issue now that we have two buttons we gotta press one button for focusing and we gotta press a separate button for taking pictures but once you get used to your camera this is a really nice system because you don't need to do the focus lock and recompose you can focus recompose and shoot as much as you want but be aware that none of the cameras that I know of has this turned on by default when you buy the camera you have to go into the menu system and you have to go to the shutter release and say I don't want it to activate the meetings or the focusing system so I want to turn off the auto focus on that shutter release switch and this is something that you have to do in your night cons and cannons as well as many other cameras and so you really have to be conscious about wanting to put your camera into this back button mode and so if you study your camera you'll figure it out sure you will and here's the advantage so let's say I want to take this picture well I can't focus in the middle because there's nothing to focus on I want to get it off to the side and using the traditional system I would have to go to my shutter release press halfway down focus on the subject keep my finger on the shutter release halfway down recomposed the camera lock in the tripod and then take the picture good luck doing them a much better system is back button focusing loosen up the tripod head I'm going to move the camera over into position and I'm going to press the back button for focusing I'll wait till it focuses and now I am done focusing I'm going to reposition the tripod head to the composition I like and then I can commence taking as many pictures as I want in this case because camera is focused and when I press down on the shutter release the camera no longer refocuses on that square in the middle which is nothing in the background and so it's a very good system if you do wanna have a little bit of auto focusing help and you're using a tripod it does also worked quite well for handheld photography as well a lot of the time I am using manual focus I'm just looking through the viewfinder and I manually focusing the lens that's why I appreciate a nice focusing right I like those focusing scales on the top one of the ways that you can do this very very accurately even if you don't have very good vision this with something called live view focusing this has come about in recent years because now we can look at images on the back of our camera and we can see what our cameras are pointed at in general this is a bad viewfinder it's not a sharp is what you can see in the viewfinder it may not have the right colors it's hard to see under bright sunlight but it can be good in certain situations obviously very good for a unique point of view especially for those cameras that have the flip out screen or have a little tilt e screen you can get the camera above your head or download very easy most of the cameras but not all of them there's getting to be more and more that have a decent autofocus system but most of the cameras on the market today do not focus very quickly when they're in the live you mode I find this to be a very good benefit when I am on a tripod sometimes it's kind of hard to get up into position wherever the tripod is either because it's so low it's hired in an unusual position and so I used live you quite a bit when I'm on a tripod and this is where using manual focus and zooming in to check sharpest works really really well so let me show you how this works on most of your cameras these days we're gonna have a live view switch so you're gonna have to turn on live you however that works on your camera and now you're seeing what is coming through the front of your lens of the camera there's going to be a magnified button somewhere in the back in your camera and you're going to need to zoom in at this point you would manually focus the lens so you may have to put your limbs in manual focus and then just turn the focusing ring until it appears very very sharp in this case on my camera it's magnifying the image ten times the image looks ten times closer and when it's that much magnified I'm really going to be able to get very critically precise accurate focusing and so I can nail the focus zoom back to the full shot and now I know that I've got perfect focus so here's a short video of me doing this first I'm going to grab the focusing ring and focus to the best of my eye's ability then I'm going to go in and I'm going to magnify five times ten times and I'm not quite perfect so I'm gonna go back to the focusing ring just focus until it's a little bit sharper and then I'm going to come back and zoom back to the full image and so that's how long it takes its very very quick I can usually do it in five seconds out in the field and I know when I've done that I have mailed focusing absolutely spot on it's perfect now a number of the newer mira lis cameras have a number of additional features and one of them is called a focusing guide and what this is is just a scale to let you no are you focusing close up or further away and there's a nice little scale at the bottom that shows you the flower for close up and the mountain for further away which is kind of nice now I don't have an example of it here but the fuji system on their x e one two and the extra one has a very cool system that not only does it show you where you are focusing near and far it shows you how much depth of field you are getting as you change from near to far which is something I've always wanted and it's one of the best systems I've seen out on the market but that is something that you're only going to find in a muralist camera now the image magnification is basically what we just showed you in live you but the muralist cameras advantage is that you get to see this in the viewfinder you're not looking on the back of the camera so if it's bright out it's something that you can easily see you khun go in change magnification manually focused too it's absolutely perfect and get it right and having that in camera is one of those digital benefits of the muralist cameras and a lot of those olympus is and panasonic's fuji's and sony's have this sort of feature built into the viewfinder of it which I think is that a nice big benefit in this one day probably going to make our sa lars obsolete now this last one is called peking this is something that people who shoot video have been used to and this is kind of unusual what it does is it takes areas that are in focus and it shimmers them and you can put them in different colors in this case I haven't colored green and you can see how I'm focusing on different areas and it's really showing you very graphically what's in focus and I'm kind of tourney on this one because I really love the visual display and as you know I like visual displays but I've also found it a little irritating because it's kind of messing up my image and I don't typically leave it turned on but it's something I like to be able to turn on from time to time but it's something I don't have on an slr camera it's something that you're only gonna have on a muralist camera at least in today's market

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

Beautiful landscapes are all around us – they are a joy to experience, but a challenge to capture in a single photo. In Nature and Landscape Photography, you’ll learn the essential tools and techniques for taking photographs that reflect the splendor of landscapes and the captivating details of nature.

In this class, award-winning photographer John Greengo will use illustrations, animations, and photographs of destinations from around the world to teach you the thought process behind great nature photography. You’ll learn which gear is suited to the environment you want to shoot and how to plan for ideal light and composition. John will help you master exposure and focus so you get a better shot in camera and improve your edits by taking you through hands-on photo critiques.

From complicated cameras to challenging environments, several obstacles stand in the way of you taking a photograph that reflects the landscape as you see it. This class will help you take nature and landscape photographs that reflect your unique perspective.

This course is part of the landscape tutorials series. 

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Composition Keynote

Equipment Keynote

Exposure Keynote

Focus Keynote

Light Keynote

Subject Keynote

Timing Keynote

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Thomas Hamlin

Most of nature's beauty has been photographed by lots of people over the years. However, nothing compares to actually visiting famous places, buildings, mountains, etc. and taking your own photographs. John Greengo provides the necessary equipment information, photographic principles, and techniques in a manner which inspires you to put in the extra effort to take the best nature photographs that you can with the gear that you have. His unique illustrations, actual real life photographs, and easily understood explanations are top notch. I highly recommend this outstanding course. I have several of John Greengo's photography courses, and I highly recommend them all. His vast experience with film and digital photography, gained through traveling and working with some well known photographers, gives his courses a unique perspective.

a Creativelive Student

I love this course, John. It is one of my all time favorites. First of all I loved your effort scale. I knew as soon as you went through the scale that you are a guy that I want to listen to. To me, the effort part IS the fun part of photography. When you asked the question about one wish ... the first thing that came to my mind was that I wish I had more time for photography. I like the technology, but I do not wish for any special powers. To me, that would take the challenge away. Photography is wonderful because every subject challenges the photographer to get the angle right, the light right, the settings right ... I love that challenge. I think you do too, John, and that is why this course is so special. The attention you pay to every detail comes from the drive you have to meet the challenges with every thing you've got. That is why your class is so special. Your work ethic is exceptional. SandraNightski

a Creativelive Student

While delving more thoroughly into Nature and Landscape photography in a smaller format, John Greengo provides us with an amazing companion to his outstanding courses Fundamentals Of Digital Photography and Travel Photography. Here he gives us another necessary treatise to study before packing our gear and heading out in a car, a plane, a boat (or just for a long hike), and it’s as entertaining as the others. Thank you again John Greengo and Creative Live for these expert and brilliantly illustrated programs. I just hope you keep finding more subjects to photograph and provide the instructions for.