Getting my work out to the public, to share and learn


Shooting with a Fast 50 Lens

So I purchased my first prime fast 50 lens a year ago and have learned a lot about it during the year.  The lens is a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM and I use it on a full frame body.  I obtained this lens mainly to shoot portraits, especially my family members.  I chose the f/1.4 over the other common Canon 50’s (1.8 or 1.2) for two main reasons.  The f/1.4 has a more substantial feel than the f/1.8-II, mainly due to less plastic in the construction and has a metal mount over the plastic one on the f/1.8.  Since I plan to keep this lens for a long time I was worried about small bangs doing big damage to both the lens and camera.  The other factor was cost; the f/1.4 is more than the f/1.8, but still fit in the budget.  The f/1.2 was way too much for what I needed or wished to pay.

There has been a much bigger learning curve to using this lens than I had originally thought. Without thinking to deep, I figured I could just continue to use this new lens like any other I had used in the past.  Wrong!  First, it does not zoom.  Feet start moving.  Looking back now I had never really used a prime lens.  (more…)


Camera Live View Manual Focusing

My father shared a focusing technique that he uses that I found very useful in many situations, so I thought I would share it here.  This technique uses the Live View feature on the DSLR camera.  This is a newer feature and is not available on many older DSLR cameras, but my latest Canon 5d Mark II has the live view and many other newer DSLR’s have this feature too.  Live View allows you to view the “live” scene displayed on the camera LCD screen instead of using the viewfinder.  This LCD image comes directly from the sensor which means the mirror is flipped up and the sensor is turned on to capture, essentially the LCD becomes an electronic view finder. With the Live View I’m able to zoom in anywhere within the frame.  This zooming feature within the live view frame is really what makes this such a useful manual focusing technique.

You start by switching to Live View mode (set for stills not video) on your camera (see user manual).  Then using the standard zoom (+) button you enlarge an area of the frame.  On the Canon I have 5 times (x5) and 10 times (x10) magnification options.  (more…)

Back-Button Auto Focus

I changed the way I trigger the auto focus on my camera and it has stuck.

There is a technique of using a second button (other than the shutter release button) to trigger the autofocus and it is not new to the camera world.  Believe it or not the availability of this function on a camera body has been around since 1989 (Canon SLR film camera).  I on the other hand first heard of the technique and of others using it with great success though one of the many photography podcasts that I listen to about 8 months ago.  Their success was enough to convince me to give it a try.  It did take a while before I got used to it as the shutter button focusing was so engrained in my memories (both mental and physical), but now I would not switch back.  (more…)