Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Solving focus problems

Continuing along with my photographic explorations, I'm taking another session of Kat's online courses. This one is the Journey of Inspiration.  The first lesson is to think about how I solved a photography problem in the past and how that learning might apply to current problems I'm facing.

I'm finding this assignment tough because it's not really my nature to be so analytical -- but in thinking about it I am remembering a couple of years ago with my old Lumix point-and-shoot I couldn't seem to find the way to focus my macro shots.  I'm obsessed with closeups of flowers (like just about everyone else who has a camera it seems) and I wanted to get in as close as I could with sharp focus.  It seems obvious now but I hadn't connected the little green square in the middle of the image as showing what was in focus.  Reviewing my camera manual was what finally helped me make this connection.  When I did, everything opened up for me and I was able to take images like these two where there's a shallow depth of field and the focus is on one detail.   

I'm still working with a point-and-shoot camera; now it's a Canon G12.  I chose this because it's got just about all the functions of a DSLR but isn't as bulky.   However I am still finding it difficult to get the autofocus to set on what I want.

Look at this photo taken just this weekend.  I was trying to focus on the two ladybugs on the grass stem but no matter how many times I refocused the camera kept focusing on the rocks in behind.  After several attempts I  gave up.  I know that if I had the time to persist and spend maybe half an hour working with this I would have managed to get something better than this--but then the bus came and we had to leave for the folk music festival.

Part of the problem was that I didn't have the time to spend on it.  But maybe it's time to go back to my camera manual.  I know there are other focusing options that I need to review.



  1. The image of two very pale pink flowers is so sensual...I feel like a voyeur spying on a tender and private moment. My first thought was 'a mother and her baby.' But, as I kept looking at the image, I don't is not right to humanize the plant; but, it does feel so intimate. Lovely. Soft. Voluptuous. I just can't put it any other way than that.

  2. thanks for sharing, i like the second shot very much, probably for the same reasons eileen has written down so poetically...:-() and i know about the green square of the autofocus not obeying to your wishes/orders lol! i have an olympus PEN P3 and have the same problem. am now learning to use it in the manual focus mode (as well as the manual exposure mode) but turning the focus ring is rather difficult for me because of my disabled hands :-((( so i can only do it in situations where i have lots of time and my 'subject' is not moving around lol...

  3. I like your post, it is something I have to deal with my point en shoot to, but its good to say, there comes an other oppertunity. The flowers are so cool, I love the second the most.

  4. Great work in identifying a problem! Even if you are not analytical by nature, you have to work through and solve problems. The camera manual is always a good place to start for technical problems! To solve the problem with focus, select a specific focus point, and then press the shutter button half-way with the subject right in your chosen focus point. You can recompose and then press the shutter button the rest of the way. I actually ALWAYS use my camera with a the focus set to the center and recompose. Even point-and-shoot cameras have this option. If it's a windy situation or I'm using very shallow depth of field, I'll select a focus point closer to the subject and might crop later to avoid the focus shifts with recomposing. Revisit the lesson on Focus in Digital Photography Basics for more info.

  5. Hi Kat, I also have problems with focusing sometimes. Please could you explain the above process in a bit more detail? Do you focus on the subject, and the hold the shutter halfway down and then keeping your finger in that position, recompose the frame and then press the shutter all the way down? Have I got the correct understanding of that? Cheers, Caro

  6. Hi there,
    Your first picture is just beautiful. Well done you!!!!
    How gorgeous to see two lady beetles like that, they look like toys. I like the shot regardless. My friend always tells me that her compact point and shoot is far better for macro shooting than her SLR. Once you work out that focus problem you will be off and away chasing more lady beetles.
    PS Carlo, you have the concept perfectly!!!