Have you ever snapped an amazing picture, only to get home and find out that your camera focused beautifully on the background, but the main subject of your shot is completely out of focus and blurred?  These easy focusing techniques, tips and tricks will put this photographer’s common pet peeve behind you!

Cameras often times miss the mark when left to decide for themselves what to focus on. By arranging the composition of this image and then pressing the shutter down, the camera chose the wrong focal point.
Cameras often times miss the mark when left to decide for themselves what to focus on. By arranging the composition of this image and then pressing the shutter down, the camera chose the wrong focal point.

Focus Point #1:  Get the BEEP with Focus-lock

Most digital cameras are designed to look for the main subject in the center of the frame. This is because most camera users don’t think too much about composition, they literally just point the camera at what they want, and shoot!  What happens though, when your subject isn’t directly in the center of your picture?  You get a pin-sharp background and an out-of-focus subject.  Modern digital cameras are getting much better at this issue by using multiple focal-points.  Your camera then decides which element in your frame it thinks is the most important. Better but not perfect.

The answer is to lock your focus before you take the shot.  By simply holding your shutter button half-way down, you will hear a ‘beep’ when the camera has focused and an indicator will light up in your viewfinder showing you where the camera has focused.  Once you have heard the beep and the focus is locked, compose the shot you have in mind and finish pressing the shutter all the way down. 

By pre-focusing on his eyes and then composing the image, the boy stays in focus even though he isn't centered.
By pre-focusing on his eyes and then composing the image, the boy stays in focus even though he isn’t centered.

My camera has 9 focal-points but I have set it to use only the center point.  This way I use the center point to focus exactly where I want it and then compose my image to finish.  This eliminates any element of chance. 

Portraiture Tip:  Focus your camera on the eyes of your subject, and then while holding the shutter button half-way down, compose the image how you would like.  Once you’re happy with the composition, press down fully to capture a pin-sharp ‘eye-catching’ image! This especially helps with a shallow depth-of-field on extreme close-ups so that you don’t focus on the nose instead of the eyes.

Click on Page 2 below for tips about action focusing and going manual!