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Lesson 7 from: The Photography Starter Kit for Beginners

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

7. Focusing

Lesson Info


focusing is very important cause we need to have critically sharp photographs. So auto focus is going to be on all the cameras these days. Well, almost all of them. Very easy to control. Most glamorous night cons, for instance, or excuse me, let's start with cannons. There's gonna be a simple little autofocus manual focus switch on the side of the lens, which is completely different than the shutter speeds apertures and I associate we've been talking about. You can have your camera manually doing one thing and automatically doing something else. It's perfectly fine, so I would leave it in auto focus with Nikon. There's a switch on the lens, and there's also a switch on the body, which is a little confusing. And what I would do is if you have a Nikon, I would leave the auto focus switch on the camera body in auto focus 100% of the time and switch it on the lens. That's the direction that they're going in the way things will be changing now. What's most important when it comes to focusin...

g is understanding the focusing points in your camera. Your camera has boxes where it needs subject matter contrast in order to focus. So if you were to frame up a shot like this, your camera is not going to be able to focus because your camera needs contrast within the boxes in order to focus and one of the most common problems that I see people have with the camera. And let me just grab this camera, make sure it's in auto Focus is they'll pick the camera up and they'll this camera, it won't take a picture. This is a really good $1000 camera that it won't even take a single picture. Well, first off, I'm jabbing down on the shutter release, which is absolutely stupid. You need to press halfway down gently, and if it achieves focused, then I can take a picture. But I'm not even looking at what it's focusing at, and so it's probably not able to grab on to something, so it needs contrast in which to focus. So do you think it can focus on this tree? Yes, nods, Yes, no, not if the brackets are not exactly on something to focus on. By the way, do you know how hard it is to find a tree that has perfect branches that mismatch all the points of my camera. Okay, so you need something in order to focus, you need contrast. Your camera loves thes lines. Now what I'm talking about here is true for single lens reflex cameras, sewn icons and cannons. For the most part, when you get to the muralist cameras, they use a slightly different system that is similar, but it's a little different, but this is particularly true for sl ours. If your subject is in between these, it doesn't count. Your camera cannot focus. You will not be able to take a picture. Many of the cameras have focusing points off to the side that air Onley sensitive to horizontal focusing points, and if you stick a vertical line through it, it won't figure it out. It doesn't understand what's going on. Some of the ones on the top and the bottom are only sensitive to vertical lines, and they're not sensitive the horizontal lines, So it depends on the camera. It depends on the sensor. Yeah, few. 10. Your camera. 45 degrees. It'll figure it out. But what's true on most all SL ours? All the current ones, all the models for the last 10 years. For the most part, the middle one is going to be your best one. Okay, being in the middle also helps because that's where your lenses the sharpest. But it's gonna be across type sensor, which means it's sensitive to horizontal and vertical lines. So when I use a focusing point, the center one is the one that I like to use just cause. I know it's the best performing, focusing point I have. And I know a lot of cameras these days have more than the nine focusing points. There are cameras that have upwards of 100 focusing points on them. One of the options that you can have it doesn't matter how many points you have is what is called all bracket focus. Now that's what I call it. Other companies might have a different name for, but it basically means where all the brackets are activated. Now, when you focus a lance, you can only focus at one distance from you from the camera. Okay, it cannot multiple e focus on all these birds in this example, because some of the birds are closer than other birds, it has to choose one point. Now, what does your camera do in this case? Well, they all the cameras have the same default system built into them, and that is it focuses on whatever the nearest point is to the camera. So the default is is. Whatever is closest is most important. As a rule, that's pretty good. But that may not be what you want to do aesthetically in the photograph. One of the options is to go in and select a single focusing point that is different than that can. You can focus on that point. You know how you do. This varies from camera to camera, but you can move this focusing point around to another area. The one that I like to use, though, is in the middle of the frame. But not all my pictures do I want the subject in the middle. Address this in just a moment. Some of the fancier cameras will have what I generally call a wide point, and this goes by ah, variety of different names, and it's more than one, and it's less than all, and this works out very good for subjects they're moving. So if you're gonna shoot sports or action or dance or something like that. I would try to use something in between because it's too hard to keep a single point on a subject that's moving randomly around. So the three options that most cameras air gonna have is choosing a single point. Many cameras will have a group point, which goes by zone or group target, dynamic area or point expansion. Orioles need to select all the points. I don't like all the points because there's just too many things that it's looking at, and it always goes to whatever's closest and that may or may not be what you want. I like single point for my basic photography when I'm deliberating and thinking and consciously deciding this is where I want the camera to focus on when I'm shooting action. If my camera has it, then I go with the group point. If I had a camera say an entry level Nikon or Canon that didn't have that group point, then I would just go toe all points if I was shooting action and I would try to fill the frame with my subject as much as possible, and so that's where we focus. We can also affect how we focus, and this is gonna go by different terminology again. But generally it's known as single auto focus. The focusing mode single autofocus is where the camera will focus on a subject and then it stops. It's done. It's finished, all right. Cannon calls this one shot Nikon calls this F s. Other pyramids have similar type names for this, and this is what I use for probably 80 85% of my photography. And so here's how I work out in the field. All right, So if I try to focus on this point in the middle, what's gonna happen The lands is just gonna kind of we's back and forth is it's trying to focus because there's nothing in there to focus on what I want to focus when I want that guy up in the tree. So I'm gonna move the framing up to him. I'm gonna press halfway down on the shutter release so that I focus on him, and then I'm gonna recompose before I actually press all the way down on the shutter release, and then I'm going to take the picture, and this is known as focused lock. This is Lake Hammers have been working for the last years, so if you want a subject off to the side of the frame, he would focus on them, walk it and move it out of the way. And that's probably going to be the first best thing that you could do for compositional reasons. To make your pictures more interesting is getting that subject out of the middle of the frame. And so this is something that you would use in the single autofocus mode, and I do that all the time quite frequently now. Completely different type of photography is action photography, where my subject is moving closer to the camera or away from the camera. Continuous A. If it's constantly adjusting focus. Night Gone calls this a F. C C stands for continuous. Canon calls it a I servo, which is there continuous move. And so when I'm at the cross country race, I'm gonna be tracking the runners is they're coming in towards the finish line, and as they get closer, I'm gonna press halfway down on the shutter release, and then when they get close enough to where they're large enough and frame that I want to shoot the pictures. I will fire the camera down. I'll have the camera on a motor drive mode, which is where the camera shoots one picture after another. And as you can see in this in this example, the subject is in focus in every single frame. The camera does an amazing job, and I'll have to say that the mirror less cameras air not quite as good as your night. Cons and cannons and Sony's BSL ours at tracking this movement does an amazing job. Not only is it tracking the movement, it's actually predicting the speed of the movement. It's tracking several data points, predicting where the subject is going to be and setting the lens there so that when it's ready for the next, not you have a sharp picture. And if all goes right, you'll have a dozen pictures in which to choose from your best moments, which is how you want to shoot sports photography because it's too hard to predict those critical moments in something like this on your own in just one single shot. So in summary, we have different focusing points. I like the single point for kind of careful, deliberate, individual photographs. I like the group point for action, and if you don't have a group point, then you go go to all points and then we have the focusing mode. We have single focusing on the subject where focuses and stops and we have continuous, which constantly adjust the focus. So I save that for action that is moving towards me or away from me Now. There is also one more focusing mode that I haven't mentioned so far, and that is an auto mode where it automatically switches between single and continuous. This mode will cause you so much grief. Do not use this mount. The reason is, is because it doesn't know as much as you know about what you're shooting, and sometimes it'll choose this, and sometimes it'll choose this. Let's say you're photographing basketball. Basketball players move a lot, right, but occasionally they plant two feet and they stand in one spot for a moment. And so if you're camera focuses on them, your camera will think that they're not moving, but they're likely to move in about two seconds or less, and it's not gonna be able to track that movement because it's locked in on single. And so I think it's a pretty easy decision. Are you shooting sports or not? It's really that simple question. And then you should either go with the single A f or the continuous safe. That makes sense. Well, let's maybe check back and see what sort of questions we have on focusing for creating points focusing modes you're welcome to start. And the answer the audience. I have questions online so you guys can prepare those so question from dangerous Dave, who said, I've been told that using the middle focus point and re composing is bad. I have been told to use the focus point closest to my composition, and you talked about using the middle. Is there any validity to using the closest focus point rather than using the middle and re composing? It gets into a nerd debate that I would just love to get into, and maybe I'll just dive into it just a little bit. I tried this theory out, and I found that in general it's not true. I've taken extremely shallow depth of field lenses. I put him on a tripod. I used the centre focusing point. I moved it off to the side and they were still in perfect focus. What the problem is, let me grab a camera here. Is that when somebody focuses, if they were to lean forward or backwards or move their camera position without doing a really good turn, they might lose that focusing point. And so if I was focusing on somebody who waas off under the side and I was shooting a number of pictures, I would probably move the focusing point over closer to where their eyes. And that's where you want to focus, folks. The I not the tip of the nose. We want the eyes and focus. And so if I was going to shoot a dozen photos of somebody and I wanted them on the right side of the frame, I would move one of the focusing brackets over to the right hand side. And so, uh, it's both true and not true. OK, great. So, yes, we do have a question. Go ahead. I had what could question my cameras, got auto focus areas, so I have zone and spot local. Um, how do those effect the auto focus mode? that I use, It doesn't matter. Well, you can mix and match, and in some cases there are limitations like you can't use this zone with continuous focusing because there's two different things where we focus and how we focus. And on some cameras you can mix and match all you want and some on some cameras. They don't allow you as many options. I know on a lot of night cons they won't allow you quite as many options when you're in the single focusing mode. But that's just particulars to that individual camera. I want to do a couple more or where will we have a break coming up now? So Well, maybe do at least one or tomorrow let you be the one. Okay, if you have any in the in city audience, fill free to jump in with that. So quite a few questions about the different focus types. There was a guest that asked, they have a l servo, and what is that used for? Mostly a l servo. Maybe they meant, is something I'm not familiar with, which means you've stumped me or really meant A. I certainly possible that some few John type I'm pretty sure that it's a I service, which is an auto intelligence servo, and that is Cannons option for automatically switching back and forth. And so that's no, wait, wait, wait A I serve a with cannon. Let me correct myself. That's their continuous focusing. The problem with Cannon Cannon. If you're listening, you gotta naming protocol. That's goofy. AI Focus is artificial, intelligent focus, which will switch back and forth. Ai servo, which looks very similar, has the same number of letters. Is the continuous focusing. They almost got me. I'm just going to get you, John and I let me just jump in and just address one other issue, because how I know somebody's home in time for the way they really hard at the keyboard right now, cause they're super mad at me because I'm not addressing the mirror. Less cameras and the mirror list cameras worked with a different system on the focusing points. In general, one of the great things about the muralist system is, rather than having preset nine points, you can move it almost anywhere in the frame, and it's is an equal quality as the center one. So where is the DSL, ours. It's best in the middle. The muralist ones are equally good all over the board, and there's just a wider variety of them out there for focusing on the system. But the same principle still applies. I would choose one point. I like to leave it in the middle for general photography. I like using if they have, like, a larger nine bracket or something, all the brackets when I'm shooting action because there's more points for things to catch on to. And so the Marylise cameras work very similar in concept.

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Ratings and Reviews


I'm not sure my first review posted. But I LOVE this class! John Greengo is a great, engaging teacher who is really adept at representing the concepts visually and excellent at explaining them verbally. I love how he goes through examples with photographs he has taken. Even though I only have a Nikon Coolpix digital camera, it does have Manual, Shutter priority, and Aperture priority modes. Through his class I've gotten a really good sense of how to balance ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. It's a great overview for me especially since I am new to photography, I can play around with some of these settings, and I have a greater understanding of what I might need in a higher level camera in the future. Money well spend! (For $29, this is an absolute steal). John Greengo is an awesome teacher and I hope to take more of his classes in the future!

Megan Wagner

John is extremely articulate and is a great teacher with lots of visual aids and metaphors to help understand photography. I have been doing photography for a few years now and this class was a tremendous help in boosting my knowledge and refreshing my memory in multiple aspects of photography. The graphics that John uses are helpful and he even goes through images and asks which settings would be best to use and will go through the why. He makes things easy to understand and is very clear about the information he provides. I am so glad I took this course and I would highly recommend it even to an experienced photographer. Thank you John Greengo!

a Creativelive Student

Bravo!!! I am an adventure traveler and have been to many places in the world. I recently completed hiking the ancient Inca Trail in Peru to Macchu Picchu with only my Canon Power shot camera. Even though I have some great photographs, I found that I wanted better quality and decided to buy an upgrade to a SLR camera. I have had no idea how to shoot in manual mode and even when I improved quality by shooting in Automatic mode with my new camera on a trip to Jerusalem, I knew I needed to get to manual as soon as possible. I have an upcoming trip to hike to Mt. Everest Base camp and so I decided to check into this course via Facebook. I am so glad I did! I now have enough information to begin to practice as I prepare for my trek. I am confident that if I need further information as I learn, that I can participate in future courses to improve my knowledge and capabilities. Thank you!

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