Photography Class with Katrina Kennedy

I’m so excited to be welcoming Katrina with us for her first in a series to help us all improve our photography!  She has a way of explaining things that make them easy for people like ME to understand.  After reading through today’s post, I can’t wait to work on the assignment! You can find Katrina at Capture Your 365


Sharp focus makes photos sing. A steady camera, supported by a tripod can be a great tool for sharp photos, but just isn’t practical in many situations. So how do you get that super sharp focus in your everyday photos?

Here are several options to try for a sharper focus.


Most cameras have multiple focus points. Letting your camera choose which point to use can lead to focus disasters. Focus can fall on someone’s nose when you intend it to be on his or her eyes. In semi-auto and manual modes, you can choose which point you want to use. (Look up focus in your cameras manual). The sharpest focus will always fall at the center point. Try changing the focus point around to see the results you get as well.
For Canon you’ll find the little cross icon on the back of your camera. Press it and then spin your top wheel to see it change in the viewfinder.

For Nikon you’ll need to go into the menu to change the focal point.  Program mode will also let you adjust your focus points if you aren’t ready for shooting in Manual, Aperture Priority (AV or A), or Shutter Priority (TV or T) modes.


The simplest way to move your focus point is to set it to the center point and recompose. If you want to focus on something not centered in the frame, you can focus on your subject by pressing your shutter half way down and then moving your camera.
1. Place the center red square or dot on the eyes of my subject (if your subject has eyes) or
whatever part you want to be most in focus.
2. Press the shutter half way down.
3. Holding it in that halfway position, move your viewfinder so your subject is positioned where
you’d like.
4. Now press the rest of the way.


A little more complicated, but far more accurate is using Back Button focus. Called back button focus because you set your camera to use a button on the back of your camera to focus, using your shutter button only for taking the photo. With focus and shutter release separated it may feel like an extra step, but you get far more control. You will find it listed in your manual as focus lock.

The most difficult part of back button focus is figuring it out where the setting is in your camera! It works
especially well with moving subjects.
To take a picture you will:
1. Press the back button on your camera to focus on your subject.
2. Release the button.
3. Recompose as desired.
4. Press the shutter button to take the photo.


Have you ever wondered what was wrong with your lens as it searched for focus?
When shooting something without much contrast or in a very dimly lit situation, your lens may have
difficulty finding your focus point. In these situations manual focus can be helpful. On your lens you’ll find the switch to go to manual focus. Don’t confuse Manual Mode with Manual focus though!


We all know that shot. The creamy blurred background leaving only a part of your subject in focus.  If you, like me, are addicted to shooting at your widest apertures, keep in mind that your area of focus is going to be extremely small. If you want to use a wide aperture, but get a little more in focus step back! The more
distance between you and the subject, the more will be in focus even at your widest aperture.  Your lens also has a minimum focus distance, the closest you can be to your subject and obtain
focus. The longer your focal length (the mm number on your lens) the longer your minimum focus distance is.  Here are some basic minimum focus distances to keep in mind:
1.5 feet
3.0 feet
3.9 feet
Have a little fun with this!
1. Set your camera to its widest aperture (the smallest f/ number) you can use manual mode or aperture priority mode.
2. In good light, focus on your subject at your minimum focus distance.
3. Shoot.
4. Back up two steps.
5. Shoot.
6. Back up two more steps.
7. Shoot.
Review your results and see what you find. You should notice a little more in focus in each photo.

Too close, focus falls behind my subject.
Better, but the edges of my subject are not in focus.
Walking a step back and the entire flower is in focus, retaining the blurred background.  With each of the focus methods, remember to watch your shutter speed. Too slow and you’ll capture motion blur!

I hope this helps bring things into better focus for you.

P.S. Donna is our random winner chosen from the comments left in yesterday’s post.  She won $10 in product from Michelle Batton, check your inbox Donna! 🙂