Am I in focus? If I’m not in focus , this whole video will be completely pointless What’s shakin’ bakin’? I’m Joanie Simon Welcome to my studio this is where I do food photography. So, If you are into that, if you want to learn more about that, well go ahead and hit the subscribe button. but today, we’re talking all about focus because, I have been there. You know when you take that shot and like, oh my gosh the food looks so good, the light was perfect, everything was happening. only ’til you got into start editing it and you realized it was just slightly out of focus. ughhhhh. There’s nothing worse than that. It kills my soul. So what I want to do today, is show you how I achieve razor sharp focus exactly where I want it, When I’m working right here in my studio So if that sounds good to you, stick around Something that is seemingly so simple as capturing the proper focus in an image that’s actually a super complicated topic, so bear with me, but one thing I do wanna go ahead and give you a heads up on this video is that you definitely need to get out your camera and start experimenting with it and trying these things out because you know I’m a firm believer in the philosophy that you can’t learn to ride a bike from a seminar, just like you can’t learn to work your camera from just watching a goof ball on YouTube. So you bust out your camera, you start playing with the settings to start experimenting it’s gonna take a bit of of experimentation because, expecially when we get into the world of autofocus, it gets complicated. So hang in there with me. You might need to rewatch certain things over and be like…”What is she talking about?” and certainly if there are any questions after the fact, I’ve got the comments section below I’m happy to help ya out. And as per usual, I have a caveat–I mean there’s always a caveat to these videos, right? And this is specifically if you’re shooting on camera. OK? This is not for anybody who’s shooting tethered–that is a different process; which I will show you later. ‘cuz I definitely had some interest In creating a video about how I shoot tethered But this all about shooting on camera. So today I’m walking through all these steps on my Canon 70D which, this is my baby, this is what started my business so we’re goin’ back ti the OG-style on my Canon 70D and I’m shooting with a 50mm f/1.8 Good’ol “nifty fifty” So when it comes to cameras and the actual topic of focus and how a lens focuses, it’s actually quite a complicated topic. It’s a lot of fun to read up on, I’m not gonna go through it here but, I have linked some really helpful articles below, so you can go grab those if you wanna geek out and really get in to nitty gritty of how the light comes in through the lens, and converges and makes the image smaller, bounces off the mirror,—all that craziness. But first and foremost when it comes to focus… what you need to realize is that focus is like a flat plane, like a piece of cardboard, right? like we’ve got this little piece of cardboard…and how it behaves is it is parallel to your lens, right, because there’s glass inside this lens and that glass sits straight up and down and so your plane of focus is always parallel to the position of your lens so if all of the sudden I tilt my camera this way, then my plane of focus tilts this way. Make sense? Of course, the exception being a Tilt-shift lens, but we’re not talking about tilt-shift lenses today, we’re purely talking about regular lenses, as they’re typically being used. So like this bottle of honey right here, if we’re shooting straight at it; which means we have a flat plane of focus and we set that focus right on the front of that bottle, all of the front of the bottle is gonna be in focus. But, if all the sudden we decide instead of shooting straight at it, we’re shooting at an angle, then all of the sudden our plane of focus is now on an angle and only part of that label is gonna be in focus. And then the other thing to consider is the aperture. And we’ve talked about aperture here before on this channel if you’re not familiar with that term, or what it means, I’ve got a video all about it right up here, you can go grab that, but that is going to dictate our depth of field. OK? So, that is what is going to be in focus and how much of it is going to be focus. So if our focus is a flat plane, right? That if then we’re shooting wide open, like this lens at f/1.8 at it’s maximum aperture Then we’re having a razor thin area of focus. OK? So just things to keep in mind,
What is your aperture? What is your angle of approach and how is that affecting what is in focus in your image? So then once we’ve made those decisions about what angle we are approaching the subject how wide is our depth of field, then it’s all about setting the actual focus where we want it. And the way we do that is either through Manual Focus or through Auto Focus So let’s start with Manual, because that is actually the method of focus that I used most frequently here in the studio Simply because I am typically shooting on a tripod I’m typically shooting a scene I have crafted around specifically at the angle that I have my camera positioned and nothing is moving it’s all locked down. So I can just very quickly jump in and set manual focus. So if you’ve never done that before, what you want to do is get on the camera and you’ll notice it’s not on the body it’s on the lens, it says auto focus or manual focus “AF” or “MF” So you go ahead and move that over to manual focus and that will disable all auto focus abilities on the camera So then it’s job at that point to manually adjust the little mechanical focus ring that’s on here Now if you’re using the kit lens that came with the camera body that’s typically an 18-55mm, with an f/5.6. so that’s actually a zoom lens This is a Prime lense, right? It is always in that fixed 50mm position. Where as a zoom lens you can zoom in and out, right you’ve done that before.
Well, this is not the zoom function this is usually in front of it, near the front of the lens and you move that in and out, and if you’re looking through the view finder, you’ll see all the sudden things are coming in and out of focus and so if you continue then to adjust that, you can then make sure that, that focus is falling exactly on your subject so like this honey, we’ve got it set up in this scene and you start to move that ring… until that focus falls exactly where you want it on that label. because of course in a situation like this, we have decided that the subject is the honey and that we really want to clearly be able to see the label. So that’s where you wanna stick the focus Now, one thing though is that the view finder and the LCD screen, they’re actually pretty small; which you’ve probably noticed before and it’s really had sometimes to tell if you’ve got the focus in the right place, especially if you’re shooting wide open, at like f/1.8 and you have that focus places in a very specific part of the image and you really, you don’t want to miss that. What you want to do is use the little zoom-in feature. And this was something that I didn’t learn for a long time, until somebody showed me and like, after shooting for a good long time and they’re like, “You know there’s a zoom-in feature?” I’m like, “Whaaaat?!” Sure enough, there is. So if you look on your camera, there should be a little magnifying glass with a plus sign in it, if you hit that, it’s gonna pop up a little box and you can move that box to wherever your point of focus–wherever you want that to rest And then you hit it again and it’s gonna zoom-in to that part of the image and then, you can confirm whether or not you actually have that area in focus like, super close up. It is crazy helpful definitley something i do every time.
Just, again, to make sure I have that tack-sharp focus and then once it’s in focus, and you go ahead and hit the shutter button–now of course because we’ve got it on manual focus, all of the auto focus capabilities are disabled. So you don’t have to worry that hitting that shutter button is going alter the focus at that point. And then you can continue to shoot until you change the position of your subject or you change the position of yout camera. And then you just reset focus manually until you’ve got all the shots you want, So that is how I ensure razor sharp focus when I’m in manual focus. But there are plenty of situations that call for using auto focus, and most typically for me that is when I’m shooting off a tripod so maybe in a restaurant, or when I’m at a shoot where we really want to be nimble. Maybe it’s like a big table spread and I want to be able to get it a bunch of different angles and I’m moving around well then auto focus is actually really helpful. But I’m not gonna lie, autofocus, if you’ve ever taken it beyond the basic, like Half press your shutter button, and hit the shutter, and that was focus…if you’ve ever taken it beyond that, looked at any autofocus settings, you might have gotten very overwhelmed because there is a lot to it. Because you think about auto focus and it applies to all sorts of photographers, right? I mean, for us food, typically is not moving around so autofocus is a little bit more simplified, but you’ve got maybe a nature photographer, and that bird is taking off at a crazy speed, and you want to be able to catch it in razor sharp focus in the air. Well, auto focus for those kind of photographers is going to be very different,
and so you have to have a lot of different settings in order to accommodate the different kinds of photographers that are out there So the way that I distill down this very complicated topic otherwise, is that there are sorta three different things you have to pay attention to when it comes to setting auto focus on your camera. So the first being the Mode. The second being focus point and the third being, how do you administer and lock down that focus? So the first is the mode, and you have to think about mode in terms if “Is my subject mostly staying in place?” “Or, is it moving around continuously?” Well, clearly our food in general is not moving around continuously, it’s mostly staying put. So for Canon users, what you’re looking for is “One Shot” focus, if you’re a Nikon user, that is “Single Servo” and that’s going to be in contrast to any kind of continuous focus Again, that a focus where things are moving around where that bird is flying through the air and you want to continue to track with it as it moves So showin’ you here on the Canon 70D, I just go into the settings and I select from the menu of options for auto focus, I select “One Shot”, again Nikon users, look for “Single Servo”.
So, once we’ve set the mode, then it’s about selecting the focus point OK? So, typically what I like to do is, I select a single auto focus point I’m not dealing with zones I’m not dealing with areas, multiple focus points I just want one single auto focus point because when I’m setting up an image, I very clearly understand “where’s my subject”, “where do I want the focus to rest?” So, I don’t need a bunch of zones and different areas I just need one single auto focus point, so you can usually find that in your settings menu again, here on the Canon 70D, here’s where I find it and then once you’ve got that set you’ll notice that then you can control where that point actually is in the frame, it can go up and down, it can go side to side all over the place. However, for me I usually always keep that single auto focus point right in the middle of the frame, and you say, “Well, Joanie, then does that mean that your subject always has to be in the middle of the image?” No. Because, we are using
“Back Button Focus” This is very exciting, and this is one of those break through things that if you can understand back button focus, you’re gonna feel so empowered and super excited and if you already understand it, well, kudos to you ‘cuz it’s not the most simple thing to understand and it does require some “unlearning” and so this is kind of that third portion of auto focus, right? we’ve figured out the mode, we’ve got our focus point now it’s all about how to be engage the camera in the auto focus process so typically, how we all learn on cameras is that you’ve got your shutter button, right and if you half press the shutter button, it engages the focus on whatever that focus point is, and then you follow through and you take your picture. The problem with having both on the same exact button is because, say we want to set our focus and then we want to move along the plane of axis, right because we talked about how focus is on a plane, so I want to go ahead and lock down my focus and then maybe I want to move a little bit well then second I hit that shutter button, it’s gonna reengage and it’s gonna change my focus, so… not the most helpful thing to have them both on the same button so that’s why with back button focus we’re separating those two things out, so real quick follow me through the settings how you want to do this, again this will be different based on your camera, but here on the Canon 70D what I start off with is by taking the auto focus off of the shutter button, so the shutter button is purely in charge of taking the picture. And then, in the same settings menum I make sure that the AF-ON button which is usually on the back of your camera–that’s why it’s called “back button focus” then we make sure to assign the auto focus to that So then when we take the shot, like we’re shooting this honey again what we start out with, looking through the view-finder placing that single auto focus point on our subject, even if that’s not where we want the subject to be in the frame, we go ahead and set that as the focus point we hit the back button focus and then we can recompose the image moving again along that plane, so that we are at the same distance away from the subject, but everything is still in focus but again, it’s gonna take a lot of practice especially if you’re used to that shutter being your auto focus so, just remember “back button focus” Now in the event that you go through all of this and you feel like you’ve really got an understanding of how to lock down your focus, but you’re still getting blurry images well, first thing to consider is “are you on a tripod?” and if you’re not, then consider your shutter speed and if that doesn’t make sense to you, go ahead and grab this video right here watch that, that’ll make a lot more sense because any sort of movement at a slow shutter speed is going to cause a blur,
but if that is not your problem and you’re still getting blurry images then there is a good possibility that you need to get your lenses calibrated. and this is something that is actually a good idea for all lenses in general when you get new lenses, they’re not always perfectly calibrated so this is something you can do on your own You can go ahead and get the information about that, linked down below or you can work with a local camera store but definitely getting your lenses calibrated is going to go a long way in ensuring that you are getting that perfect, crisp focus so hopefully I have not made you more confused than you came in to this video.
Again manual focus… pretty easy to deal with and definitely a great place to start but if you venture into the world of auto focus and you get overwhelmed, definitely send me a message, leave me a comment below I’m happy to help you out, but… Thank you so much for stopping by the studio If you take any great pictures and you are super proud of your focus well go ahead and tag me over on Instagram, I’m @thebiteshot I would love to give you those, super-duper thumbs up with that, thanks for stopping by, I hope you stay out of trouble, and I will see you real soon OK? Bye