Getting to grips with single point focus

I had my second photography class last week, this one taken by the regular instructor. We started out by going over some things from the first class, going through a slideshow of pictures to figure out what mode the photographer might have been shooting in, or deciding what was ‘wrong’ with the image. She also taught us that ‘fast freezes, slow shows’ as a way to remember what effect you get with either a fast or slow shutter speed, which we will be focusing on at class on Wednesday.

For the second half of the class we learned more about aperture mode, mostly through practice, which was useful. Part of this involved learning to set my camera to single point focus. That’s a manual autofocus setting, which sounds contradictory, but isn’t. With single point focus, you choose what point the autofocus focuses on. You can move this point around the camera grid using a toggle, and it’s a great way to get an interesting visual effect, while making sure the main focus point of your image stays sharp.

Here are a few images that I took in class to illustrate how single point focus works in aperture mode.

I was really looking forward to getting heaps of practice in over the weekend, but on Wednesday I started coming down with something and by Friday I had a pretty gnarly head cold and cough. That meant I spent much of the first sunny weekend we’ve had in a while stuck resting inside.

Still, I was really keen to get at least some practice in, so when the pigeons who live in our backyard were let out for a fly, I thought that would be a good opportunity to get some in-flight pictures to try out my single point focus and different aperture settings.

These are some of my favourites from the day.


Spock enjoying the sunshine (and being the focal point of the image)


Using a large f-stop number (with its slower shutter speed) to capture Spock in flight


Coming in for a landing (small f-stop number)


Taking flight (small f-stop number and single point focus)

Next weekend I’ve got a big freelance job coming my way, so I’m unlikely to get heaps of time to practice again, but I might try to take some breaks and see if I can catch some of the other birds flitting around the garden.


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