Common mistakes with camera settings: 3. Autofocus
Many photographers allow their camera to set the AF point for them because it’s a quick and convenient way of shooting.
However, most cameras assume that the subject is the nearest object and that it’s close to the centre of the frame.
While this may be fine much of the time, if you’re shooting an off-centre subject with lots of objects around it, the camera may try to focus on the wrong thing.
The solution is to take manual control over AF point selection so that you can position the active point over the correct subject.
Your camera manual will explain exactly which mode you need to use, but it’s usually called something like Single point AF or Select AF.
Once the correct mode is set, use the camera’s navigation controls to select the AF point that lies over your subject in the frame.
Occasionally you may find that there isn’t an AF point that lines up with the subject, in these situations employ the focus-and-recompose technique.
To do this simply select the central AF point (as it is usually the most sensitive), and move the camera so that it is over the subject.
Then half-press the shutter button so that the camera focuses the lens. Now, keeping your finger on the shutter release, recompose the shot.
Once you’re happy with the composition, push the shutter release fully home to take the shot.
Common mistakes with camera settings: 4. Flash sync
By default, cameras are set to fire a flash at the start of an exposure. This isn’t an issue with fast shutter speeds or when the subject and/or camera are motionless, but it can produce odd looking results with long exposures and moving subjects.
The problem is that a ghostly, blurred image of the subject is produced in-front of a correctly exposed, sharp version and this makes it look like it’s moving backwards.
The situation is easily resolved by delving into the camera’s (or flashgun’s) menu and activating the second-curtain flash option.
This will tell the flash to fire towards the end of the exposure so that any subject movement is recorded as a blur behind it rather than in front.
It makes the image look much more natural and can really emphasise the speed of the movement.
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