Thursday, August 18, 2011

Month's Mission

Many moons (and many Mondays) have passed by since my last “Monday Mission” post.  Obviously I’m not going to keep up with my goal of once/week for these babies.  More realistically, I’ll probably meet this goal about once a month, rather than once a week so maybe I should call it “Month’s Mission”.  Done. 

You might remember (but probably not – it’s been so long ago) that my last mission was to figure out the focus options on my camera and how I can get the sharp-focused photos that I want so badly.  Amy Wentzel wrote an article in her blog that was very helpful.  Her opening comments, to which I can totally relate: “Speaking as a true perfectionist, eye sharpness was one of those annoying technical issues that made me wail, rent my garments and pour ashes on my head.  In the beginning of my career I just couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong, and I had some serious frustration going on!”

I’m implementing the following changes when I shoot in an effort to get sharper focused photos:

1)       Changing auto-focus area modes.  There are settings that let you choose if the focus will be determined by a small or large area of the image window.  I am trying the smallest focus area possible.  Most of the time I want the focus to be on my subject’s eye and if there is something else close to the eye in the viewing screen my camera may be trying to use that as a focal point.

2)       Minimize the “recomposing” of the shot.  With my camera (and I’m sure with most DSLR’s) there is a way to lock in your focus and then recompose your shot.  I may be locking in on the subject’s eye, but then when I recompose my shot I’m moving enough that the distance to that eye is different than when I locked my focus.  I’m trying to compose my shot first, then use the toggle button on the camera back to move the focus point to the eye.  Amy also says, “Shooting with a shallow depth of field gives you very little leeway when you grab your focal point and then move your camera to recompose the shot artistically.  The further you shift your camera from the original point of focus on the eye, the more chance you have of losing the tack sharpness.”

3)       Amy also suggests not shooting at maximum lens aperture.  Most lenses perform at premium sharpness one or two stops above their maximum aperture.  So for instance, on a lens that opens up to 1.2, try shooting at 1.8 instead of maxing it all the way out.”  I had been challenging myself to shoot wide open, but at that wide aperture there is NO wiggle room.  Besides, unless I’m shooting details, I don’t care for quite that shallow a depth of field anyway.

4)       Concentrate on holding still.  Sometimes I get caught up in the moment…wanting to capture an expression or emotion, and I forget that I need to hold very still when I press that shutter button.

All that might not make sense to anyone besides me, but it helps me remember if I write it down anyway.  I’ll let you know down the line if these techniques are working.  If you have any tips for sharper images, feel free to leave a comment!  Thanks to Amy Wentzel for some of these tips.  You can check out her work at

Now, how would you like to try for a sharp focused image using one of these puppies?  My friend, Evan recently showed me his collection of VERY OLD cameras.  So cool.  But I’m grateful I don’t have to shoot with one.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mason & Elise

Didn't you just love being a kid in the summer?  Childhood goes by so fast!  Good thing we can capture it in photos, huh? 
Now admitedly, I'm related to these 2, but they're just adorable. You can't argue with that!

Elise, you're so funny!