Spot Focusing for Better Images

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Spot Focusing for Better Images

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Focus point is on the giraffe's head

Nearly all cameras have an easy to easy future called spot focusing or focus lock which  emphasizes your main subject but not many photographers use it.  This feature enables the subject to stand out from the background or foreground by being more in focus.  The spot focus of most cameras is set by pressing the shutter part way down (the “half-press”) and check for a colored square or a red dot or similar to appear in the viewfinder or LCD (indicating what will be in focus in the image). You then recompose while keeping the shutter pressed down partway (so your main subject is off center) , then press the shutter all the way to shoot. Even more dramatic shots can be achieved by using the “Portrait” setting or lower f  stop with the aperture control for a narrower depth of field.

These images demonstrate the dramatic impact that proper spot focusing gives to an image.

The focusing method can be set in the camera settings and varies from single point, multiple point and on some cameras –  face recognition.  If enabled, face recognition automatically detects human faces and focuses on the them without having to use the shutter half-press technique (but be sure the right faces have been selected). Better cameras can be set to make an audible beep to confirm that the focus lock has been set.

Another benefit of proper spot focusing in many cameras is that the image exposure is also set around the spot focus selection area as evident by these two  images.  On better cameras one can set the focus lock point and exposure lock point (often called AEL or Auto Exposure Lock) separately in different areas of the image using the shutter half-press and another button simultaneously. For the later “ambidexterity”  (is that a real word or did I make it up?)  of the digits is needed.  Not for those with severe arthritis!

Spot focusing requires auto focusing (vs. manual focusing) to be set and is one of the easiest camera settings and techniques to use to remarkably improve your images but it takes some practice to make it work well.  Try it until it becomes a regular part of your quality image creation technique.

Focus is on the background only

David & Anna

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