I was about to follow up some more on my previous post about becoming a wedding photographer, but then VanBuren jumped
so I had to drop everything including possibly real work in order to photograph more of it.
So this is how I normally shoot, ever since I got my first film Canon Rebel SLR, the one endorsed by Andre Agassi, heh. Nothing crazy here. I learned it from the Canon manual.
1. Auto Focus in single servo mode (never manual focus. My eyes are total doo-doo and I don’t trust them)
2. Press shutter halfway to lock focus – focus will remain even if you move focus point away from the subject
3. Recompose keeping shutter halfway down
4. Press shutter all the way to take picture
This is how I’m learning to shoot now, which I think is much faster. And I’m taking advantage of all the nifty bells and whistles the Nikon D300 has to offer.
1. Auto Focus in continuous mode (focus point will change as the subject/camera moves)
2. Use AF-ON button (back button) to activate focus, and turn OFF shutter’s ability to focus.
3. Slow burst mode
4. Activate 3D tracking
That is the honey pot right there: 3D tracking of your subject over 51 focus points. Once you activate which focus point to use, it will track the subject and readjust focus as the subject moves. All by itself! So handy for things like, oh, fast moving animals, or say, a wedding precession. No more of my clunky attempts to lock focus on moving subject (crapshoot), recomposing, firing. I’ve had the D300 for 10 months now and have never once used the 3d tracking. (I was spending all of that time getting comfortable with shooting manually, yep.) A reader, Simon from the UK, made a mention of 3D tracking recently, we backed and forthed on some emails, and I decided to finally give it a try. It. is. awesome.
So basically, instead of using the shutter to focus, I use the AF-ON back button with my thumb instead. While I hold this button down, 3D tracking will kick in, the camera’s brain does some crazy calculations based on the subject’s movement, continously moving the focus points along with the subject. When I’m ready to fire, I press the shutter with my index finger.
If I don’t want to use 3D tracking, I don’t have to, without going into the camera settings to explicitly turn it off. I simply tap the AF-ON button once with my thumb to focus – no holding down – then press the shutter to fire.
So what does this mean for me, potentially? Less fiddling. It means I can frame quickly and almost immediately. It means less chance of missing a shot because I’m taking the extra second to recompose. It means more chance of having subject in focus, even as it’s moving.
It means a lot a lot A LOT of practice, because my muscle memory is long and stubborn and doesn’t want to forget its old way of shooting.
Oh and I’m using auto ISO too! So fun! I set the minimum shutter speed I think I’ll be needing, and the maximum ISO I’m willing to go up to, and the camera will adjust the ISO accordingly so that I always get a correct exposure within those parameters. You end up with wacky ISO numbers that you wouldn’t be able to manually pick yourself, like 720, 900.
So here are some practice shots I did recently with all these new techniques. As you will see, none of them are in focus, haha! Really they’re all-around crap. In my defense, the weather up here in Boston has been total crap so the lighting situation is not exactly ideal for action shots.
All photos taken with Nikon D300 17-55mm f/2.8 lens.
So a lot of practice and adjustments are needed. I probably could have used a faster shutter speed, and perhaps stepped back more. Once we get better lighting I will take more shots and report back. I will master this 3D tracking, AF-ON button thing, I will! Thanks again to blogless Simon for sharing all your tips!
And thank you to Veebs for your enthusiastic participation. Isn’t he the best? He seriously jumped about a dozen times for me. This is exactly why I name the business after him. He is so paws-on.