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Exploring focus and composition

From: Shooting with the Canon 5D Mark III

Video: Exploring focus and composition

If you've slogged through the previous 14 chapters, and now arrived here, I commend you. That's a lot of material, and it's a lot of dry material in places. But it's good to study the individual features of your camera, know what they are, know how they work; even if you never use them, it's nice to know that the option is there. That said, learning your camera's features in a room, with a manual, just simply studying it, or with these videos, and simply learning how to push the individual buttons only gets you so far. A lot of these features are designed to work together. They work in unison to build up kind of a greater photographic power than any of the individual features can convey on their own.

Exploring focus and composition

If you've slogged through the previous 14 chapters, and now arrived here, I commend you. That's a lot of material, and it's a lot of dry material in places. But it's good to study the individual features of your camera, know what they are, know how they work; even if you never use them, it's nice to know that the option is there. That said, learning your camera's features in a room, with a manual, just simply studying it, or with these videos, and simply learning how to push the individual buttons only gets you so far. A lot of these features are designed to work together. They work in unison to build up kind of a greater photographic power than any of the individual features can convey on their own.

So in this chapter, we are going to take a few movies to get out in the field with the 5D, and do some kind of applied shooting. Remember, these cameras were designed with photography in mind. It's not just a random assortment of features stuck on wherever the engineers could find them. Buttons are in particular places for particular reasons; some functions are on the outside of the camera, some are buried in menus, for particular reasons. So we are going to look at how you can make some of these features work well together, and explore the thought process I go through as I work with the camera in a particular situation.

Now again, this is not a photography class. I'm expecting that you know certain things. I am going to be tossing some terms around that you may or may not know. If you don't, you are going to need to go do some study in some other courses. We're just trying to focus more on how I'm thinking about the camera, and driving the camera. First thing I want to talk about is autofocus. Now, you've seen how I can half-press the shutter button, and the camera will autofocus. You've seen that I have got different autofocus modes; that I have different autofocus points that I can choose from. In the field, I tend to work with those in a couple of different ways.

So take a look at this scene I've got behind me here. I have these pink flowers here that are really beautiful. I would like to take a shot of them, but I really don't want them in the dead center of the frame; I would like them off to the side. I have my camera in a mode where it will automatically choose an autofocus point, and so if I frame my shot, and take a picture -- if I turn the camera on first; this is one of those features that works in concert with other features. You turn it on, and then the other features work. Anyway, if I frame my shot the way I want it, and fire away, I actually get good focus, because the camera was able to successfully figure out that the flowers were the subject, and position a focus point on them.

To be honest, I rarely use that feature, and here's why; It adds an extra step to my shooting process. After I half-press to meter and focus, I then have to stop and go, is that my subject, is that, or is there a focus point on my subject, and it just slows me down a little bit. So what I tend to do is leave my focus point as a single focus point in the dead center of the frame. Now, that means that any time I focus, I am focusing on what's in the middle. In this case, with my shot framed with the flowers on the left-hand side, what's in the middle is way in the background, and the flowers are going to go out of focus.

So instead what I need to do is first focus on the flowers; put the center point spot on the flowers, half-press the shutter button to meter and focus. That will lock the focus, but now my composition is all wrong. So while still holding the shutter button down halfway, I reframe my shot. I've still got my focus locked; now I press it the rest of the way, and I get the shot. So I'm putting the center point on the flowers, I am half-pressing to focus and meter; they are in the dead center of the frame. Now I am tilting down, I am panning over to the right, and I'm taking my shot.

That took a little bit of extra time, but honestly, I can work faster that way. It may just be that that's how I worked for so long before reliable autofocus point selection came along that I just have that habit, but I would recommend trying that, because I think what you'll find is it partly changes the way you see your scene, because you're really going, there is my subject; I'm putting the center spot on it, and really looking at it, I am thing about the light on it, great! I've got it; now I am reframing. I know that focus is going to be where I want it to be, and now I can fire. If I need to work quickly, that gets a little more hairy.

If I'm in a rapidly changing scene, if I am shooting a portrait, where someone's face is changing all the time, and I want them off to the side, I am constantly having to re-grab focus, and re-shoot. At that point, I might want to switch back to autofocus point selection if I find it's choosing the right focus point. But another thing I can do is go ahead and center point focus on my flowers, so I did my focus, the focus racked to the right point, now I am going to switch my camera over to Manual focus. That's going to lock the focus in there, so now I can frame however I want, and as long as the distance between my subject and the camera doesn't change, it will stay in focus, so I can just shoot away as much as I want.

So it's worth experimenting with these different focus modes. Now remember, on your Mark III, when you choose an individual focus point, your metering changes. You're no longer in a matrix metering; you're in a matrix metering that's biased towards that focus point. So with it locked in the center, you're kind of shooting with a center weight focus. Personally, I never find this to be a problem except for very rare, very extremely weird situations, where I've got something really bright in one part of the frame, and something really dark in another. At that point, you can meter, and adjust settings by hand, or switch back to autofocus point selection.

So play around with that style of shooting; see how you like it. What you'll probably find is you'll change back and forth. Most of the time, I stay on center point focusing. For some situations where I need to work quickly, and I know I can trust its decision, I'll switch the camera back to automatically selecting a focus point.

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This video is part of

Image for Shooting with the Canon 5D Mark III
Shooting with the Canon 5D Mark III

108 video lessons · 22962 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 10m 29s
    1. Welcome
      2m 16s
    2. What is an SLR?
      5m 28s
    3. A note for 5D Mark II users
      50s
    4. Using this course
      1m 55s
  2. 35m 44s
    1. Exploring basic camera anatomy
      5m 28s
    2. Attaching a lens to your camera
      4m 3s
    3. Examining batteries and media cards
      8m 35s
    4. Powering up
      1m 49s
    5. Exploring the menu system
      2m 53s
    6. Clearing all settings
      2m 5s
    7. Setting the date and time
      1m 55s
    8. Setting the language
      1m 42s
    9. Formatting the media card
      3m 4s
    10. Holding the camera
      4m 10s
  3. 25m 6s
    1. Setting Scene Intelligent Auto mode
      1m 28s
    2. Exploring the viewfinder display
      5m 51s
    3. Touring the LCD screen and the status display
      2m 22s
    4. Exploring the top-mounted control buttons
      1m 42s
    5. Autofocus basics
      5m 7s
    6. Metering basics
      1m 42s
    7. Reviewing images
      2m 59s
    8. Working with image playback
      3m 55s
  4. 39m 32s
    1. Exploring Program mode
      41s
    2. Working with exposure compensation
      5m 2s
    3. Using the lock switch
      1m 21s
    4. Revisiting metering
      1m 43s
    5. Changing the ISO
      2m 14s
    6. Looking at ISO speed settings
      4m 36s
    7. Exploring long exposure noise reduction
      2m 53s
    8. Exploring high ISO noise reduction
      1m 40s
    9. Using program shift
      2m 11s
    10. Exploring image format and size
      3m 59s
    11. Using the Info button
      2m 4s
    12. Examining level and grid display
      3m 45s
    13. Using the Quick Control screen
      1m 35s
    14. Setting the color space
      1m 25s
    15. Configuring multiple media cards
      3m 24s
    16. Using the feature guide
      59s
  5. 23m 15s
    1. Exploring focus modes
      2m 25s
    2. Selecting autofocus areas
      3m 54s
    3. Exploring other autofocus options
      3m 44s
    4. Customizing servo auto focus
      4m 49s
    5. Exploring autofocus custom functions
      4m 50s
    6. Using manual focus
      3m 33s
  6. 10m 31s
    1. Using auto white balance
      1m 48s
    2. Exploring white balance presets
      3m 7s
    3. Using manual white balance
      5m 36s
  7. 10m 47s
    1. Exploring Drive mode
      4m 52s
    2. Using the self-timer
      3m 38s
    3. Using remote controls
      2m 17s
  8. 52m 26s
    1. Exploring metering modes
      3m 26s
    2. Using exposure lock
      1m 22s
    3. Working with focus points and metering
      3m 47s
    4. Exploring Aperture Priority mode
      3m 0s
    5. Using the depth of field preview button
      2m 40s
    6. Using Shutter Priority mode
      3m 26s
    7. Using Manual mode
      3m 27s
    8. Using auto exposure bracketing
      6m 3s
    9. Exploring Bulb mode
      2m 34s
    10. Working with the Auto Lighting Optimizer
      1m 40s
    11. Correcting lens aberration
      2m 46s
    12. Exploring Highlight Tone Priority
      2m 25s
    13. Understanding high-dynamic range (HDR)
      7m 5s
    14. Creating multiple exposures
      6m 25s
    15. Using the mirror lockup feature
      2m 20s
  9. 27m 38s
    1. Modifying LCD brightness
      3m 27s
    2. Rotating images
      2m 36s
    3. Using the playback grid
      42s
    4. Enabling AF point display
      1m 18s
    5. Rating images
      3m 4s
    6. Protecting and deleting images
      4m 40s
    7. Using Quick Control during playback
      1m 17s
    8. Exploring file numbering options
      2m 43s
    9. Creating folders
      1m 10s
    10. Changing file names
      3m 12s
    11. Adding copyright information
      3m 29s
  10. 7m 57s
    1. Defining picture styles
      2m 0s
    2. Exploring predefined picture styles
      2m 1s
    3. Adjusting predefined picture styles
      1m 56s
    4. Working with the monochromatic picture style
      2m 0s
  11. 22m 28s
    1. Activating Live View
      7m 16s
    2. Focusing in Live View
      5m 32s
    3. Focus manually in Live View
      1m 25s
    4. Working with aspect ratio
      2m 33s
    5. Exploring other Live View options
      3m 36s
    6. Reviewing the drawbacks to using Live View
      2m 6s
  12. 12m 16s
    1. Shooting video in Auto and Program modes
      6m 39s
    2. Shooting video in Priority or Manual modes
      3m 35s
    3. Exploring movie playback
      2m 2s
  13. 13m 0s
    1. Exploring custom modes
      5m 38s
    2. Using the custom menu
      2m 56s
    3. Exploring custom controls
      4m 26s
  14. 8m 57s
    1. What are custom functions?
      35s
    2. Working with exposure level increments
      1m 34s
    3. Bracketing auto cancel
      53s
    4. Changing the number of bracketed shots
      1m 5s
    5. Changing ISO speed setting increments
      1m 34s
    6. Exploring the Live View shooting area display
      40s
    7. Enabling safety shift
      2m 6s
    8. Clearing all custom functions
      30s
  15. 8m 16s
    1. Camera and sensor cleaning
      3m 12s
    2. Using the Battery Info command
      1m 45s
    3. Looking at operating conditions and temperatures
      2m 3s
    4. Getting firmware updates
      1m 16s
  16. 15m 10s
    1. Exploring focus and composition
      5m 31s
    2. Using an exposure strategy
      5m 11s
    3. Controlling exposure through Program mode
      4m 28s
  17. 23s
    1. Goodbye
      23s

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