Monthly Archives: February 2017

Getting Sharper Photos

I’m sure we’ve all experienced focusing problems.

You know – you have an otherwise pretty good shot, but the subject is just ever so slightly out of focus.

And the toughest part is that you often don’t notice the focus problem until you’re back home, checking your photos out on your computer screen!

No amount of sharpening in Photoshop is going to save an out-of-focus photo, either. That means it’s imperative to get it right in-camera.

The question is, what are the best ways of getting tack-sharp photos?

We provide the answer to that very question in this post.


Single Shot Autofocus vs Continuous Autofocus

Single shot autofocus is typically the default setting on most cameras and is the most common way to focus for most shots.

It gets its name because the camera focuses and maintains that focus for one shot, which is how most of us shoot most of the time for things like portraits, landscapes, and other still subjects.

Using single shot autofocus is extremely easy, too.

Just depress the shutter button halfway, which instructs the camera to focus.

The camera will maintain focus on the subject until you either take the shot by pressing the shutter button all the way or you release the shutter button altogether.

The problem, of course, is that to lock that focus, you must keep the shutter button depressed halfway, and that can be tricky at first.

You’ll likely end up with a few “oops” shots from accidentally pressing the shutter button all the way. Likewise, you’ll probably find that you accidentally release it sometimes, too, meaning you have to start the process over again.

But, once you get the hang of it, you can use single shot autofocus to acquire focus on your subject (say, the eyes of a person in a portrait), lock that focus, and recompose the shot.

For example, in a portrait, your initial framing might have the model in the middle of the shot while you’re locking focus on their eyes.

But once you depress the shutter button halfway, you can then recompose the photo for a more pleasing look, but still maintain focus on the original target. This is called the focus and recompose technique, and you can see it in action in the video above by Matt Granger.

Photographer Today in 9 Easy Steps

It might be cliche to say, but the phrase “practice makes perfect” has a lot of merit.

That goes for a lot of things in life, and photography is one of them.

I often hear complaints from new photographers that their photos aren’t as good as those they see from the pros.

Those complaints are usually accompanied by a wish that they knew how to improve their photos – and fast.

Becoming a better photographer, above all else, takes time and dedication to the process of learning.

But that doesn’t mean it has to be a complicated process…

With that in mind, here are nine easy things you can do today, right now, to become a better photographer.

The challenge (well, one of them…) of photography is to represent a three-dimensional subject in a two-dimensional medium that somehow still feels three-dimensional.

It might sound like an impossible task, but really all you need to do is utilize tricks that add depth and dimension to the shot.

Leading lines are a great way to add depth because our eyes are naturally drawn to lines.

Put a line in your photo, and viewers will use that to travel deeper into the shot, inspecting various parts of the image as they go.

Looking at the image above, notice how the line directs our attention to the background of the image. Taking us to the back of the shot helps give it the feeling that there’s a dimensionality to it.

Another way to add depth to your photos is to layer the image.

Layering simply involves having foreground, midground, and background elements that draw the viewer’s attention.

Again, the practice of layering points of interest in the shot helps move the viewer’s eye around the image, taking in one point of interest before moving on to the next, the result of which is a feeling of greater depth.

In the image above, note how the layers and layers of mountain peaks help define the space and give it a sense that the mountains in the foreground are nearer than the mountains in the background.

Tricks for Better Smartphone Photography

I remember the days when carrying a camera meant having a big 35mm SLR body, a couple of hefty lenses, a bunch of rolls of film, and a big tripod – to name a few things – in a bag slung over your shoulder.

Today, though, we’re spoiled in that we’ve got powerful cameras right in our pockets.

That’s nice for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is being able to carry a lot less gear!

It’s also nice because having a camera on us at all times enables us to practice our craft more often, and as they say, practice makes perfect.

So, as you practice your photography skills with your mobile phone, keep the following tips and tricks in mind to help you create even better photos.

If you really want to expand your phone’s capabilities as a camera, you need to get an add-on lens.

Better still, why not get a series of lenses, each for a different purpose?

For example, I shoot with Sirui’s line of smartphone lenses, which includes a portrait lens, a wide-angle lens, and a fisheye lens.

As you might imagine, having these lenses at my disposal gives me many more opportunities to create interesting smartphone images.

The 60mm portrait lens shown above is an ideal focal length for portraits.

It gives you just the right perspective for getting frame-filling portraits of friends and family, but without being right up in their face.

At 18mm, the Sirui wide-angle lens is perfect for capturing wide subjects like street scenes, landscapes, and even large group portraits.

In other words, it’s a much more versatile focal length than what your camera’s native lens offers.