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15 Tips When You’re Having Trouble Focusing

Lesson 26 from: Photography 101

SLR Lounge, Pye Jirsa

15 Tips When You’re Having Trouble Focusing

Lesson 26 from: Photography 101

SLR Lounge, Pye Jirsa

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Lesson Info

26. 15 Tips When You’re Having Trouble Focusing


Class Trailer



The Camera is Simply a Tool


How Does a Camera Work?


How to Adjust Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO


Exposure Triangle


What is a Stop of Light


Reading Exposure Via the Histogram


Blown Highlights or Clipped Details


White Balance & Color Temperature


No Such Thing as the Correct Exposure


How To Measure or Meter Light


8 Key Points to Understanding ISO and Image Quality


Understanding the 3 Primary Metering Methods


How to Get Perfect Exposures in One Shot


Equivalent Exposure but Different Images


Compensating for Light and Dark Scenes


Starting with Automated Modes


Auto Mode and Flash-Off Mode


Portrait Mode on a Fashion Shoot


Landscape Mode on the Beach


Sports or Action Mode


Macro Mode with Food Photography


Creative Effects Mode - Floral Photography


In-Camera Processing


A Glimpse into RAW Processing


15 Tips When You’re Having Trouble Focusing


3 Primary Types of Autofocus


Single Shot with Portrait Session


Single Shot with Action Shots


AI Servo with Action Shots


Focus Recomposing vs. AF Point Selection


Shutter Speed and the Reciprocal Rule


How to Hold a Camera and Panning Tutorial


What Makes a Great Photograph?


How to Capture Candid Moments


How to Find the Right Light Direction


5 Basic Compositional Theories


The Power of Cropping


Color Schemes


Diving into the Narrative


If It’s Not Working With, It’s Probably Working Against


More About Your Camera and Lenses


Understanding Megapixels


Crop vs. Full Frame Cameras


Crop vs. Full Frame Cameras Demonstration


Prime vs. Zoom Lens


How the Lens Affects Composition


Dynamic Range and RAW vs. JPEG


5 Tips on Memory Cards


10 Tips on Buying Gear




The Good Karma Jar


Posing and Action Shots with Female Model


Posing and Lighting with Female Model


Posing and Lighting Couples Portraits


Lesson Info

15 Tips When You’re Having Trouble Focusing

So let's, talk about fifteen possible troubleshooting ideas when you're having problems with focusing because, you know, we don't want you to panic, so we'll go down the list my first one, the one that's always coming for me there's a little switch on the lens that lets you turn you're focusing, function on enough and if you put it on manual focus, no matter how much you press on this it's not going to auto focus, they're for manual focus that's usually my first clue, I hopes, and I forget it's actually extremely common and having me all the time too. You guys have probably seen me do if you haven't, you will see me doing the workshop where special optioning landscapes I'll get my focus and I'll switch to main focus because it's the easiest and quickest way for me till just locked the focus, it won't change after that, and then I forget it when I go to shoot things it's, not it's, not focusing and that's again. The first thing I was checked is my auto focus actually turn on lend itself...

, if not it's actually mechanically disabled when you're on manual, so it'll only manu okay, so the second tip that I bring up if you're having issues focusing, is to check the advance focusing options this happens all the time to me when I loan my camera to someone else not to me, not to you because you don't let your camera so what you can do is you can actually go into the cameras menu now in this rebel will you go into the custom settings and we go ahead and get their custom functions? We actually choose, for example, what the shutter button does, what the focus button does and so forth so sometimes like when I loaned it to, well, the most common culprit that you know is met every time I give it to matt, he gives it back to me and my shutter is disabled for focusing, so when I go to press the shutter, it'll capture the image, but it won't focus. He always turns on the back focusing buttons, so he leaves the focus on lee on the back button and disabled it from here. So the way that you do that is it going the menu custom functions and you can control what the shutter and a lock button is going to do basically you and your camera or just keep it simple indolent or tell him to return it to the way right when that won't happen, so just keep in mind that you can change the functionality of these buttons on most dslr so we can kind of customized to wherever your preferences are the other common one is maybe you're just standing too close to your subject each of these lenses have a minimum focusing distance for example with this one I believe it is holy cow I don't know if I can read that which one? Seven feet two feet two feet are not two meters so two meters seven feet okay, so clearly you're way too close so no matter how long my press here it's not gonna work, I actually have to step seven feet back in order for this demon work and see if I don't want to take a picture. I just followed face really close but then he looked really wide if I actually got it. Okay, tip number four is to check the viewfinder. Diop ter now what is that exactly? Okay, let me bring up my nikon here. The viewfinder doctor, is this little dial right next to the viewfinder. Okay, you can actually turn it now the way that you know that you're having issues with the viewfinder diop ter is because when you look through the viewfinder it looks blurry but of course, when you take a shot it looks totally sharp. It looks fine, it's just the viewfinder so what you do is you just use that diop ter and you just turn it until basically your screen is is sharp now there are of course technical ways of dialing incorrectly but generally I just do it visually because it was totally fine visually right so really what it is is if you've got a problem with your eyes maybe you're nearsighted or farsighted and this is how you're going to be able to see better take number five is about low light and when you're shooting in low light no matter what, you're going to have a hard time focusing so your best bet is to go ahead and select your center focus point as your tool when you're focusing so let's see for example on here I've got all these different options oh look kind of moves and I can pick with my finger but if I pick my center one as the one that I'm gonna tell my camera to use as I'm trying to focus it's the most accurate and it's the strongest one yeah it's a great tip in low light kate if number six is another low light wine and it's using your focus is this light so if I'm in really low light situation my flash will pop up sale start flickering right before I click the button and what that's doing is it's giving my camera assistance with light so that I could see are actually the camera can see yeah and it'll get your focus some models hiring models don't actually have that right so you have to use ah ha shoo flash right and then that that'll do the little flickering for you yeah, the hot she ones like a five eighty x will have the an infrared autofocus is being now this is one area where I kind of like that night cons little more forward thinking on the nikon actually haven't autofocus beam that's built in right into the camera on most their models so it's really, really helpful that way you know you don't need to have that hot shoe flash where you don't even have the flash come up when you need that auto focus assist now tip number seven looking for areas of contrast still low light or not that's probably one of the things that you should do anyway so if you were shooting let's say pie was wearing an entirely white outfit it's a little bit hard to get your focus sometimes if he's in bright light but if you work so awesome we're moving forward from that so let's say his white shirt had stop right at the neck and that's an area of contrast if you focused right there that would help your camera find focus a little better and if I'm wearing all white well, she probably run because wearing a veil you would have a problem but that's that's exactly what we're talking about is yeah, those areas of contrast you can even see that like on her honors shirt. Right now, these lines and stripes against the white creates a lot of contrast there. Very easy for a camera to gain focus as opposed to, like, a solid suit, right? And wear a suit like you war in a white shirt I was just using. Okay, let's, look at the couch. The couch is entirely monica was kidding. Let's, move on. Okay, okay. I'm going to say this tip number eight is to avoid servo modes in low light seven loads of those modes that basically, we're allowing the camera to track focus. Now, those modes in general just during daylight are already kind of well, sometimes they're inaccurate. Okay, now you add on top of that low light you and on top of that basically low contrast, which is it's basically issue run into in lola and low light. We're losing contrast that's why it's kind of hard to focus so I would avoid these types of serving most these automatic tracking modes in the camera because they're going to be highly inaccurate and kind of unreliable in low light situations. So what that really means is you need to find your point of focus instead of letting the camera determined that point of focus for you. Yeah, and for example, like when we're shooting seo ah bridegroom coming down the aisle generally that's a very low life situation is kind of coming up with ideas of situation we being rather than using an eight point and having it track like you can have that servo track on the single like let's say I said it to the top right a f and have a track all the way rather than doing that I'm going to use single shot f and I'm just going to keep shooting over and over and over to get a new focus every single time because what happened? It assumes that tracking a f mrs it'll track back and then forward and it's a lot of time for it to go back forward and come back till you have a focus you could end up missing those moments are so let's hear in a basketball court and you're trying to follow the shooter it would be much easier for your camera to just for you to track the player across the room rather than hoping that the camera will catch it for you yeah in a fully auto mode yeah definitely avoid that okay next time number nine is toe watch out for flares flares basically well, they could be great artistic elements to have that really nice cool shot of a model whatever you have that sun coming in, it looks awesome but in addition to kind of reducing contrast, creating that flare and bright look, it also makes it very difficult for the camera focus. One tip and trick that I like to do is when I am trying to shoot with a flair. What I'll do is I'll actually blocked the flare of my hand, so I'll basically get my focus in my composition, I'll block the flare to get my focus and then ah, hold the shutter down halfway once a day they're going to remove my hands. The flare comes in and then I actually take the shot that way, I know that I've locked the correct focus, so just kind of look out for that now if you didn't want that flare, there's a couple things you should dio using your lens hood for one toe, avoid that extra flair if that's not what you wanted, and really what he means is if the sun is coming in from behind pie right here and I'm trying to shoot this way that's like coming directly into my lands and that's what he's talking about the problem? So if I had a lens hood, or maybe if I were under an umbrella or some kind of shade, yeah, blocking it so that it's not entering the light. Are entering the lens directly sometimes I mean the hood is amazing for blocking light generally if the sun's anywhere around here but if the sun is directly behind your subject there's no way that a hood is goingto do anything tip number ten is locking the focus whenever possible in some of our shoots if we've got our camera on a tripod and we know exactly where the focus is going to be and it's not going to change, you might as well just lock it in that way doesn't move maybe a landscape shot or maybe even a room shot where you know you know you're so just not going to move that all you got a couple options you can use your switch, which yeah and then the one that we forget to switch out of right, but you could use your switch to lock your focus in manual because he you are designed it you get your focus once lying automated and then you switch it so that it doesn't move or you could also use the you could set your buttons so that you've got one of these to be an auto focus lock. Yeah, generally you said I think it's b one of these two yeah, I prefer tv star one is there there right there there's a star on rhys asterisk so you've got two options so again you place it you focus and once you know where it's going to be and it's not going to move your subject and your camera aren't going to move then you can just switch off to emmanuel focus yeah it's kind of nice on my nikon I have a button look it says a l a f l you look like it's so intuitive right? They labeled it nicely like that okay? All right. Okay next what I want to bring up is to use the focus button to pre focus when possible so this is tip number eleven now this situation is like well, let's say we're shooting a couple okay? And we wanted basically capture this really nice, intimate, candid moment with them we opposed them everything's in the right place we have what we have basically got the right composition and so forth what I might do is pre focus so I'm just going to basically I could do it several different ways generally when I pre focus I just hold the shutter down halfway so I'm just going to basically get my folks on them hold the shutter down halfway till I get my beat and then I'm gonna cue the action we do this a lot through the dvd where we're in a queue the action after we have pre focused and all I'm going to do is basically just span the trigger at that point and just keep shooting over and over now, if you know you want to pause, remember that when you let go the shutter all the way and then you press the back down, it refocuses, right? So if we wanted to just stay regardless of if we are lifting up and coming back down on the shutter release, we do need a locket via one of those techniques either the flock or actually switching over to manual. But pre focusing is awesome because you could just shoot, capture the moment, and this is when everything is set up your radio, and that way, you don't need to worry about folks at all. Now, I note about that when you pre focus, you're hoping that they don't move from that exact yes, they have to be stationary and that's the only time you would ever like pre focusing during a sports game? Not so good, not weird, but it keeps me focused, and I was right here, and all I did was this then you still get everything we don't judge tip number twelve is about focus speaking it's a new thing for some of these cameras. In fact, this sony right here has it in live view. In real time, it can show you exactly which item is in focus. Yeah, it's kind of cool it's like this moving high level er sort of that just moves and tracks whatever focal plane you're on, it makes an amazing for manual focusing. Actually, I love it is also also awesome for video too that's so cool. Okay tip number thirteen tip number thirteen switch to manual focusing when your subjects on a similar plain and here's what I mean subjects on a similar plane for example, if my lovely co host here michelle, we're wearing her wedding dress and she had this little have you guys seen those like there kind of them or vintage bales, right? The vintage really kind of over the face just smallville bales like that? Yeah, that netting is very, very difficult for your camera to really know what you're trying to do like if you're trying to basically focus on her eyes and you have that netting in front your camera's on ly going to catch the netting. So in that kind of situation again, I flipped emmanuelle and I just shoot manually with this kind of a shot and she does her dancing fingers, which is would be really weird if she was wearing a wedding dress, but but if she weren't, I could use my manual focus just to focus on her eyes and it's actually very easy to tell where that focuses when I'm shooting close like that because I have kind of a lot of reference points between the net between her eyes between her hair and everything so in certain situations like that when your subjects are on very similar planes and their the f is going to freak out well that's when you really need to just switch over to manual focus yeah, I think it has something to do with it so fine it doesn't know exactly where to look yeah it's fine and it's right in front of where I mean things that's right on and it is actually right on because it's catching the net it's just your face if you want anything else tip number fourteen is making use of live you plus what I just talked about manual focusing so here's what we dio I'm going to put my lens on manual I'm going to turn on my live you function hold on and with that just using one eyes to look at the lcd I can see what I want to focus on we actually do is a lot to throughout the course and we'll zoom in on different areas to make sure that we have the critical focus live you and manual focus is an amazing tool you combine that with focus speaking and you got focusing machine okay so tip number fifteen of that newer cameras do you have the option to use touch screen focusing when you're using live you now michelle really wants to show you my favorite deal so first I had to switch back to auto focus over here click on my live you and the way we do on our phones you just pick the spot you want to focus on and there it goes it's an awesome fun especially if you imagine if your handholding let's say dslr footage like you're trying to shoot record video of the kids or whatever you're doing rather than using your focus ring if you're uncomfortable doing manual focus, that touch screen is amazing just to kind of move around as people are moving in frame it's also great on a tripod is just very handy dandy we're on the ground or family, especially with the arctic you like that I like for this other articulating selfie yeah yeah three articulating screen was designed for actually the articulating screen is amazing when you're on the ground like she mentioned you meet bring this screen up and if you have touchscreen focus you don't have to do anything you can just zoom in you can make sure it's focused over the air you want it's a really handed any tool all right, so that's it for our fifteen tips when it comes to focusing ready hit on I am so ready we'll see you guys on the next one

Ratings and Reviews


I watched this class "live" and was simply amazed at the amount of information Pye covered. Yes, he talks a little fast, and since I was streaming the class I couldn't stop it to review anything, but this guy really knows his stuff and explains it very well so I absorbed quite a bit. Bye is enthusiastic, clearly enjoys his craft, and delivers excellent information to students in a light heartedI and fun way. I think some reviewers are a bit harsh about his humor. Lighten up, people! His examples and the additional information his co-host provides are very worthwhile and you can tell the course was well thought out. I plan to buy the class to help me get back into DSLR photography.


I really enjoyed this class. I am not a beginner, but there were still things I learned here that I found helpful. I really enjoy learning from Pye. He is quick, gets to the point and doesn't spend a lot of time going over and over the same point. There is a wide variety of things that he covers, so really something for everyone. I would recommend purchasing this class if you want to understand your camera better, improve your technique and start taking better photos.

Joy Bobrink

I have tried to learn photography myself via the internet / YouTube but always felt like I was missing something in my foundation. Sure I can zero out my meter...but why? How do I know the settings I've selected are the correct ones? I've been circling this drain for a year until this course. WOW! Pye has SO MUCH information in every video. He doesn't just stand in a classroom and talk, he's out in the field actually putting his settings into his camera, talking about why and why not and then shooting. He's hands on the entire course. You don't just hear him, you see exactly what he's doing! I'm a visual / listening learner and this is my eureka moment! Thank you Pye! Watching the Exposure video and how you changed the settings yet maintained the exact same exposure was mind blowing. Awesome course! I would recommend this to anyone new to photography or anyone that feels like they don't have all the info.

Student Work