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Crystal Clear – doesn’t need apply to everything in your photo


One of the most convenient features of today’s digital cameras is their ability to automatically focus on your subject. The result is that we have fewer out of focus pictures. In fact, sometimes we end of with picture that have too much in focus.

Except for the least expensive models, most digital cameras have the one or more “selective” focusing options.

For example, when shooting portraits, one technique that’s often used is to focus carefully on the face while at the same time throwing the background out of focus. This technique allows the photographer to “zero in” on the main subject. The key to “defocusing” the background is to set the lens to use a large aperture (smaller f/stop number).

In this photo I’ve focused carefully on the young girl’s face. In automatic mode, the camera set the lens for a relatively small (f/11 aperture) keeping much of the background in focus and a bit distracting.

For this shot, I also focused on her face. However, by setting the lens to a larger aperture (f/3.5), the background appears largely out of focus. The face becomes the center of attention.

Of course this technique is not limited to portraits or faces. Notice the house in the background in this snapshot.

In this snapshot using a large aperture, the house is barely distinguishable making the lily more prominent.


Quick tip for selective focus:

  • Set your mode dial to “A” -(aperture preferred automatic exposure)
  • Rotate the control dial until the smallest f/stop (largest aperture)
  • Focus on your main subject
  • Shoot



Written by Arnie Lee


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Filling the frame

07th June 2011

Sometimes it pays to move in close


For portraits, conventional composition has you surrounding your main subject with a “border” – space around the face

For a more intimate look at your subject, throw away the rulebook!

In this photo, the young girl’s face has an interesting look but the background is slightly distracting.

Here we’ve moved closer to subject, eliminated the background and keyed in on her eyes and her giant smile.

By including the yard in this photo, we’ve caught this young lady in action but lost the emphasis of her face.

Again, by moving in close (or zooming in) we’ve changed the feel from an action shot to a portrait.


By simply minimizing or eliminating the border, you’ll key in on the all important eyes and face of your subject. The next time you’re shooting faces, try filling the frame.



Written by Arnie Lee


You don’t always have to stop the action


Sports and action photos are most often made with a higher shutter speed that “stops the action” and produces a tack-sharp image.

However by using a relatively slow shutter speed, you can emphasize the movement to create a totally different feel to the picture.

This “stop action” photo was captured using a relatively high shutter speed of 1/500th second. The young girl’s face is sharp.

By changing the shutter speed to 1/15th second, the blurred image creates a definite feeling of movement.

Here, the movement is mainly the girl’s arm striking the tree. Her face is still relatively sharp with a 1/30th second exposure.

Using a relatively slow shutter speed and panning (moving the camera to follow the action), produces blur except for the main subject. It takes a little practice to produce this effect.


Don’t hesitate to set your shutter speed to 1/30 or slower and let the action do the talking. Slow dancing can make for some interesting photos. Do you agree? Send me your comments.



Written by Arnie Lee