I was about to follow up some more on my previous post about becoming a wedding photographer, but then VanBuren jumped

      VanBuren jumps

      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.

      23mm, f/2.8, 1/80 sec, ISO 1600, promise of catnip Jump

      32 mm, f/2.8, 1/80 sec, ISO 900, catnipLanding

      26mm, f/2.8, 1/100 sec, ISO 1000, catnip
      VanBuren jumps

      34mm, f/2.8, 1/100 sec, ISO 1800, roast beef
      VanBuren jumps

      34mm, f/2.8, 1/100 sec, ISO 900, roast beef
      Film strip

      23mm, f/2.8, 1/80 sec, ISO 1400, tuna-flavored treats
      VanBuren jumps

      34mm, f/2.8, 1/100 sec, ISO 1800, catnip, shredded
      VanBuren jumps

      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.


      Very thoughtful of Veebs to let you get so much practice in.

      He totally needs a cape for his flying through the air.

      wow, what a cooperative kitty! he didn’t tire of the treats either! what a troooper. :)

      You’re totally cornering the market on cats flying through the air (both intentionally and unintentionally). ;-)

      Ugh! Just when I was deciding that I’m comfortable sticking with Canon for my next camera, you go and waive those darned 51 auto focus points all around in my face. Now I’m back to wanting the d300 again. :) Have a good weekend!!

      Super kitty! (Couldn’t resist.)

      Fame at last! and LOLZ at the treat/bribe EXIF data!

      He’s so cute! Those action shots are great, even if they’re not perfect. I love them!

      how did you get the cat to jump one after another, with that same kitty facial expression… so cute. great photos!

      These are awesome. Amazing considering that they were taken inside in low light! I would do this trick for ice cream.

      And, yah, killing me with the 3d focusing and many, many focus points. Nikon-envy. :)

      These are great! Despite the fact that they are out of focus – the potentional for awesomeness is right there!

      these are great :) Thank you for sharing. Your VanBuren is very cooperative. Llana would just look at me disdainfully, and then meow for another half hour.