Focus, Shutter Speed, Focus techniques?

Stephen Eastwood|Beauty and Fashion Photographer | Tutorials

Focus, Shutter Speed,
Focus techniques?


Q. How to focus properly on the eyes when shooting FULL BODY under
controlled but not so well lit conditions that can more or less let you have
ISO 250, f5 & 1/50?

tripod or IS is available.

Focusing on the eye first and recomposing is ok but not enough.

I know focus around the edges of a lens tend to get softer but does it happen
to everybody or is it just me.

and part 2

if using strobes?

OK there may be several issues at play here.  First that is low light,
and a slow shutter, IS and tripod only help to account for you and your movement
not the model, a slight move will create a loss of sharpness, maybe not a full
ghosting, but a loss of that tack sharp effect that you can have at 1/2000th
or when using a strobe to freeze the action. 

Next, A focus recompose may be creating a loss of critical focus because of
depth of field.  Lets say you have a 135mm lens at 135mm and are at f5 
your depth of field is slim, you focus on the eyes with the center focus point
than recompse the shot which for you was only a move of centermeters but at
the point of focu may have been a move of inches or more.  Think of a record
spinning, the inside barely moves while the end makes a great distance around,
so you may actually be better off moving the focus point up closer to the area
while composed correctly.  This presents a problem as some cameras do not
have enough focus points spread far enough to cover the frame, and often in
low light there is not enough contrast for the focus system to lock especially
on the outer less sensitive focus points.  You may start to get a sense
of how the manual focus ring works on your lens, and once you figure that out
you lock on and knowing that you recomposed and it through the focus off foward
or back you know a slight twist of the lens manual focus would correct it.

So what we have are two main issues.  First you may have a slow shutter
movement of the model and or you.  Tripod and IS only fixes you and while
1/50th is seemingly fast its not as fast as the 1/1000th or more that a strobe
flash duration freezes action at so its hard to expect it to be as sharp. 
And depth of field makes a difference, especially at longer focal lengths.

If using a strobe and a fast enough shutter

All the above rules apply yet a strobe or flash will freeze the action, I always
find this to be more crisp than even a 1/5000th shutter for some reason, but
thats opinion.  The flash will fire at a duration generally between a slow
1/750th and a fast 1/5000th so the only issue here is that you are at a shutter/aperture
value that does not allow the ambient light to effect the exposure.  How
do you know?  If the flash does not fire are you seeing an image? 
or of course you can use an ambient light meter to check the available light
and make sure that it is well below your settings, just be mindful of the max
flash sync of you camera.  If you are mixing the two and have enough ambient
light to actually expose an image even at a stop below it may well be causing
a ghosting to occur through movement of either you when shooting or the subject
or both.  To eliminate this follow the steps above carefully.



©Stephen Eastwood 2008
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About photographers1

Stephen Eastwood Fashion and Beauty Photographer and Retoucher based in NY/LA/Ft. Worth TX Current Canon Explorer of Light.
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