10 camera techniques to master in 2014: how to focus on moving subjects
In this section we turn our attention to moving subjects and how to focus when time is of the essence.
Focusing on a static subject is all well and good, but not everything will wait patiently for you while you compose and capture your shot. For this reason, you need to master the art of focusing on moving subjects.
To do this, change the autofocus mode from Single Shot (Nikon) or One Shot (Canon), to Continuous or AI Servo mode. Now, once you’ve locked focus on your subject by half-pressing the shutter-release button, the camera will continue to refocus as the subject moves, until you fully press the button to capture your shot.
You can choose from all of the focus points for off-centre subjects, but when shooting in low light, shooting low-contrast subjects or if using lenses with a maximum aperture narrower than f/5.6, you will find these outer points will struggle to focus.
Expert Tip: try back-button focusing
Many DSLRs have a button on the back of the camera that you can press with your thumb to activate the autofocus. This means you can use your thumb to focus, and your forefinger to press the shutter when you want to shoot.
SEE MORE: Back button focus made easy
Why are my pictures blurry?
When it comes to mastering focus, you also need to know why your shots aren’t sharp. This can be down to focusing, but it may also be due to camera shake or the subject moving. You’ll need to spot the cause, fix the problem, then try again.
1 Incorrect focusing
If the softness is due to incorrect focusing, you may find that areas in front or behind the subject are sharp. If you can’t see any sharp areas, incorrect focusing will give a uniform blur all around each area of the image.
You can easily spot blur caused by camera shake by the characteristic ‘streaking’ of highlight areas. These indicate that the camera (or possibly the subject) has moved at some point during the exposure.
Camera Techniques for 2014: 01 Take control of focus
Camera Techniques for 2014: 02 Get white balance accurate every time
Camera Techniques for 2014: 03 How to focus on moving subjects
Camera Techniques for 2014: 04 How to use exposure compensation
Camera Techniques for 2014: 05 Ways to cope with high-contrast lighting
Camera Techniques for 2014: 06 How to position your subject in the frame
Camera Techniques for 2014: 07 Learn basic TTL flash techniques
Camera Techniques for 2014: 08 Sharpen photos like a pro
Camera Techniques for 2014: 09 How to control the saturation of colours
Camera techniques for 2014: 10 Add depth by using different apertures
Best camera focus techniques: 10 surefire ways to get sharp photos
How to focus your camera for any subject or scene: free photography cheat sheet
Autofocus point options: what subjects should each be used with?
Focus modes: how, when and why you need to change your AF settings