Monday, December 14, 2009

Could you please focus!

First I want to say, I got to have a little "Mommy Free Time" this weekend. It was fantastic! Me and my SLR went to a book signing. I got to shake hands with the "pioneer woman" herself, Ree Drummond, and she signed her new cookbook for me! Thanks to Ines and my sister for turning me onto her blog. She takes wonderful photographs - and makes wonderful food!
Here is the link to her blog:
Unfortunately, my hands were WAY too full of stuff for me to photograph the meeting with The Pioneer Woman - but I did snap a few pic of the book:

Now, onto what I really came here to write about. Focus. I have been reading, and re-reading the little manual that came with my SLR. Only to find, each time, that I have totally forgotten what I just read in the section before, and how it fits in with the other section. Quite Frustrating. Indeed.
So I decided to pick one feature of the camera and work on it, until I feel I have enough of an understanding to move onto another part.
I chose focus.

In my point-and-shoot days, I did not think about focus much at all. Auto Focus and Face Recognition were right there, at the ready, preparing to give me a good shot every time.

My SLR also has Auto Focus, and the "Basic Zone" Modes that my point-and-shoot has. But it also has a whole different level of Auto Focus in the "Advanced Zone" Modes and, of course, the lenses can be set to Manual Focus. But lets be real - my eyes are not that good anymore!

So I stuck with an Advanced Auto Focus setting "ONE SHOT", and shot in Program AE mode and let the camera focus. And this is what I learned:
  • "ONE SHOT" was the best choice for shooting at that moment because most of my subjects were stationary, so I had time to focus on each one.
  • There are nine Auto Focus points, they can be chosen manually, but I chose to have my SLR automatically choose which focal point to use.
  • The focal point with the closest subject, OR the group of focal points (using the center focal point as a guide) with the most consistent subject distance will be chosen as the focal points by the camera for focusing.
This is very simplified - so feel free to add any comments to what I am saying!

Focused in the Foreground:

Here is the where I was focused:

I positioned the center focal point over the branch that was closest (the focal point in red is actually the one that focused) and then the background was blurred.

Focused in the Background:

Here is where I focused:

In this photo I moved the center focal point away from the branch and onto the pavement below - and a group of focal points focused on this area, blurring the foreground.

Voila! Focus 101.

This was the ultimate experiment. I got the foreground and the background blurred, and the center in focus.

Here is where I focused:

I think I may be onto something!!

I will leave you with a few more photos from the farmers market:



Have a good week!

Umm Nidal

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Focus and Composition

My interest in photography started out when I began traveling in my teens. I realized quickly that I needed to compose a shot right, or I was wasting film. Now, that does not mean that I understood anything else about photography. It was really economic factors that lead me to take care in choosing and photographing my subjects. I still enjoy looking at a scene and composing a photograph. Sometimes successfully - and sometimes it seemed more interesting before I took the shot - and the actual photo is nothing special.

Here are some shots that I took outside last weekend. Just so you all don't think I only photograph my son! (although he is my main subject at the moment!)

Not the most exciting picture of the Verrazano  Bridge. But I got it centered in the middle of the picture! And I thought that the combination of the on-ramp, the bridge and the trees in the park were a good representation of the area of Brooklyn that I live in. Its on the water, but still urban and made up of people who commute to Manhattan.

What is it? OK. I will tell you. It's moss growing at the edge of the asphalt in the park's playground. I loved the green of the moss against the black asphalt.

I love the angle of the trees, and the fact that they are all growing at the same angle. Also there are a series of multiples in this shot. The trees, the benches, the fence posts, the street lights. There are even two pigeons in the foreground (shock! multiple pigeons in NYC!!!) There is only the one lone person walking.


This is the Roman Catholic Church that we live across the street from. I thought the sky was so blue that it made a great contrast against the Church tower.

OK, and one picture of my son. Because I love the smile on his face after having slid down the slide for the gozillionth time!

Looking forward to snapping away this weekend!
Umm Nidal

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Starting fresh

Here are my first attempts at using my SLR. I will include as much information about the photo as I can, at this point. And also, what I have learned, if anything!

Very experimental shot using a lens that did not come with the camera kit. It's a Canon EF 50mm 1:1:8 II
The point of this lens is to let in a lot of light so that you can go without the flash indoors.
In my first shooting session, I had a really hard time with focus.
Three things learned about focus:
1. The focal point is where the center target in the viewfinder is pointing.
2. Auto focus is your friend (and this lens has an auto focus, AF, setting)
3. AI SERVO is your BEST friend. In AI SERVO, the camera continuously focuses on the target subject as either you or the subject move.
The following pictures were shot without the AF, and AI SERVO options chosen:

When he is sitting still, no problem. But as soon as he moves:

Its all blurry. Argh.
in the "P" setting AI SERVO with Continuous Shooting Fixes this issue!

Nifty! Have to remember those settings.

And I think that this is my best photo to date (even though my son is sitting by the safety gate, and it looks like he's in jail!)

I actually got him to look at the camera!!
Umm Nidal