Hi! Welcome to Part 7 of our mini Photography Series. Next week we will wrap up our photography series talking a little about the cameras and lenses I would recommend depending on what kind of photography goals you have.
Learning the photography puzzle can have it’s challenges, but the rewards are great! If you are joining us for the first time today, I encourage you to check out the first six posts of this series:
Six Reasons to Learn to Shoot in Manual Mode
Aperture: How to get that Blurry Background in Pictures
ISO: How to set your ISO to take Bright and Balanced Pictures
Shutter Speed and Metering: How to use Shutter Speed to take Bright Pictures
What is the Best Lighting for Taking Pictures?
What are the Benefits of Shooting in Raw?
How to take your own Family Pictures for your Christmas Card
Like I have said before, I am offering this short series in hopes of teaching others like myself who want to get great pictures of everyday life.
What do I mean by people like myself? I want good pictures of my kids, good pictures for my blog, and candid pictures of life. I do not want to start a photography business nor hire myself out for family pictures.
This mini series is meant for amateurs like myself who just want to capture life’s moments.
If you are among the thousands who own a DSLR, but you don’t know how to shoot in manual mode, I highly encourage you to try to learn. This series is a great place to start.
The camera I use is a Canon EOS Rebel T3. While this is a great starter camera, I would not recommend this camera if your goal is to learn to fluently shoot in manual mode. I use a fixed (or prime) 50 mm lens for almost all my pictures. I highly highly recommend this lens. CONSIDERING THE PRICE, it is an excellent lens, in my amateur opinion.
On your Canon camera, you have an option called auto focus point selection. The camera stays in auto focus (which in most cases, I recommend auto focus), but you have the ability to select what you specifically want in focus.
In the above picture, I labeled the button over in the top right corner. This is the button you push to make the ‘Manual Selection’ option appear on your screen. Now using your arrows, you can scroll around the different points to decide where you want to focus your camera.
Once you decide where you want your focal point, look through your view find, and when you go to take your picture, you will see a little red dot appear. That dot shows where you have chosen to focus.
Many cameras have more or different options than the one pictured above.
If you keep your camera in auto point selection focus, chances are your camera will pick up your intended focal point. BUT, I highly recommend using a manual point selection…especially if you are shooting with a wide open aperture (setting your aperture at a small number).
Take a look at some of the images below. I started with my focal point in the very middle, then I moved to the very top of my camera’s options. I worked my way around the focal point selections going clock wise. Depending on what you are using your picture for, these options can really work to your advantage.
In the below picture, you can see my focus point is right on the end of the top lime. This is right in the center of my options for my focal point selections. This is a great option for images for blogging. If you have a product or free printable where you aren’t adding text to the image, this is a great, clear shot.
In the below picture, my focus moved to the top of my point selection options. You can see, once again, that I am focused on the end of the top lime. That lime is above the half way point of my picture.
This gives me options for negative space near the bottom of my image. If I want to add text or captions to the bottom of an image, this is a good option. I don’t usually find myself shooting with my point selection at the top of the range, though, very often.
Have you heard of the rule of thirds in photography? In short, this is the philosophy that more times than not, it is pleasing to the eye to see your picture broken up into thirds. When you see a great child’s portrait, most of the time, we see them off to the side in a picture.
If you divided the below image into thirds, the limes would fall right on one of the lines. Most photographers, and others, agree that the below picture is better with the limes off to the side than right in the middle (I expand upon this theory at the bottom of the post).
You can see I am, once again, focused on the end of the top lime. This time I am using my top right point selection. I use this option most often when shooting my children’s portraits or a product for the blog.
The picture below is taken using my far right option for point selection. This option is great when I want to add text to one side of my image. If a family wants a greeting written on their card to the left of their family picture, this is a good option.
The next picture is taken with my focal point selection at the bottom right. I probably don’t use this option very much either.
Below it is at the very bottom option for focal point selection. This obviously gives me lots of negative space above my subject.
The picture below is using the bottom left option.
The next picture is using the far left option.
And, lastly, the below is using the top left option.
Before I go on, I put my camera on auto point selection. This was one of those times it did not focus where I wanted it to. Instead of focusing on a lime, it focused on the ribs of the bowl directly below the lime on the left.
A few tips when you are deciding where to focus your in your shot:
1. Remember the rule of thirds. Keep your subject off center. I divided the image below into thirds. Focus your picture so your subject lands on one of the lines. Using this philosophy can really enhance your pictures.
2. Almost always, almost always, focus on your subject’s eyes. If you are shooting with a wide open aperture where you need to be very precise, keep your little red dot on the eyes of your subject.
The below picture of my son is a good example of an image using the rule of thirds and focusing on the eyes.
3. When you are shooting family pictures or pictures with multiple people, focus on the middle of the front row.
My strength in photography does not include shooting family pictures, but I have learned enough to know that I should not take family pictures with auto point selection. I need to focus on something. But where? There are 12 different faces in the picture. Where do you focus?
I have learned the hard way. I got home one day after taking some pictures for friends. The mom had her legs crossed at the knee in some of the pictures. As a result, her boot was the closest object to my camera. Instead of focusing on the faces, the camera chose to focus on the mom’s boot. Frustrating!!!
As long as you have your aperture set correctly for the number and depth of people you have in your image, you should be pretty safe focusing on the front middle person’s face. Using the front middle person tells your camera which plain to focus on.
Take my advice and don’t take your chances with your camera’s auto point selection. 🙂
4. Apply these same ‘rules’ to portrait (up and down) images as well. You can see all my images were landscape. Be sure to do lots of experimenting with your manual selection tool with portrait images as well! The various focal selection options you use for portrait images will be very different than for landscape images.
Now it’s your time to teach me! Leave some comments about what you have learned using auto point selection or manual point selection!