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Thread: A question for Wedding/Portrait photographers

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    A question for Wedding/Portrait photographers

    I was given some advice for wedding photography that in order to make sure 9/10 photos have the eyes in focus to shoot between 3.5 - 5.6. I didn't really like this advice because I believe you should be able to nail the focus at the sweet spot of your lens (2-2.2 for my lenses) and I know plenty of photographers that shoot wide open at 1.2 or 1.4!

    The same photographer suggested I use the "one shot AF" focus on my Canon- focus and then recompose my shot. This has worked ok in the past, especially when working with one AF point, but I'm concerned about shooting with large appetures and by recomposing i wont nail that focus.

    My question is - for those of you who are experienced in portrait photography- do you use the focus/recompose method? Or do you manual focus? Or do you do something else!

    Do you think the recommendation of taking couples portraits in that range appeture is correct? 3.5 -5.6? I guess wedding photographers would feel the stress of not nailing the focus more- what appetures do you shoot at mostly?
    Canon 6D, Canon 550D, Canon 24-105mm, Canon 50mm f/1.4, Canon 85mm f/1.8, Canon 100mm Macro f/2.8 IS USM, Canon 10-22mm f/3.5-5.6

    www.imogenbrandrakers.wordpress.com

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    No lens has a sweet spot (defined at the point the lens is sharpest) at either end of its aperture range. Science and Physics of lens design tell us that a lens will have its sweet spot somewhere between about f8 and f14. So your lens cannot have a sweet spot at f2 or so. You might like the results at that aperture, but it will not be anywhere near the lens' sweet spot.

    I use the dial on the back to adjust the focus point and take the photo using that to make sure I get what I want in focus. I use the focus and recompose when shooting landscapes more than I do if I am shooting people. Mainly cause if you are using say f1.4 then any slight change in forward or back position will put the focus out.

    Having said this, I find the current trend of shooting everything at a wedding at f1.4 1.8 2.8 etc really not that exciting and I hope the trend passes soon for something a bit more interesting. Anyone with a f1.4 lens can create those extreme shallow depth of field shots, it doesn't take a great deal of skill and I believe it has only become trendy cause it is an easy way to create an impacting result.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    Following on from what Riktas said, shooting only with the same lens at the same setting will have you fall into a trap of all your photos looking the same 'flavour' and will quickly have your client going "that's nice" to the photos and skipping through them...the consequence of this of course is that "that's nice" can also be said for Uncle Bob shooting with his DSLR...that's not a good thing, you want your client to say "Wow!" so you'll want to be different.

    I shoot at wide open only when I want particular detail, such as if I am shooting the reception area with it empty and gathering images for the interior decorators with fine things such as the cake placement, table arrangements, candle designs used, fabrics, silverware...anything.

    I love shooting candid so I try to withhold from using a flash for as long as I can, so generally I'll shoot at f/4 on my prime/wide-zoom. When shooting with the flash, I tend to stay at f/5.6. It might also be a benefit to invest some time into making or buying a white/silver bounce card for situations where you have nowhere to bounce light off...

    Anyway, the point is, mix up your photos with different focal lengths and detail to give them different 'flavour' and keep things interesting.
    Last edited by AVALANCHE; 15-01-2013 at 11:50pm.

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    I'm hardly an expert on these matters, I understand the basic theory and use trial and error from there. Although I love shooting out wide, I find the wider apertures very limiting when shooting any more than one person, unless you are after that particular effect. I used to shoot very wide, but am really trying to discipline myself to narrow it down a bit more because I'd find person A is mostly in focus and person B is less so and don't even get me started with persons C through Z! I'm not a wedding photographer by any stretch of the imagination...
    I guess I'm "Uncle Bob with a DSLR", only with some more technical knowledge behind me. My best advice is experiment. If you have time, zoom right in (in camera) and make sure everything you want is in focus, adjust as necessary for the next shot. I love using wide, wide apertures for still life, the flowers, bouquet, rings, decorations, etc, and I vary the aperture based on what or who I am shooting.

    In changeable light, I am a bit lazy (or smart, depending on your perspective) and use aperture priority (Av) a lot. In fixed light, I generally shoot in Manual.

    Don't know if I've helped at all, but this is from my personal experiences.
    Better known as Erin.


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    Oh! And I more often than not use AF! I dont trust my eyes enough for manual focusing, especially when its high speed at weddings. Continuous if its a moving subject, such as dancing and Single if its something fixed, like posed photos, still life, table shots, etc. If I feel particularly lazy, or forgetful, I might put it on Auto for picking continuous or single (AF-A on Nikon, not sure what that might be for Canon).

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    thanks for all the help there guys, very useful information. I like to get an idea of what others do, it's very helpful.

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    I won't touch the whole wedding thing at all (it's just not going to happen!)

    But to answer your original question regarding AF, I use the AF/C (Constant mode) on the rear AF button (half depress focus disabled) More ofen then not, I have only the centre AF point on, but I have it set so that you can move it around with the D-Pad. I only move it around for 1.4 - 2.2 apertures, otherwise it's focus and recompose.

    Focus and recompose can get quite quick, and the centre focus point is almost always the most accurate. (don't believe me, just ask a d800 owner!)

    I usually use Centre Weighted Metering.
    Greg Bartle,
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    I beleive that there is no hard and fast rule, just what you are comfortable with. If you learn enough about how your camera bodies and lens work together you will be able to use the method that best suites a situation. I've found that i cannot trust any focus point other than the middle one, on my 5D Mk II's and yet I completely trust all focus points (so far) on my 7D, and even the 50D's i used to own were pretty good on all 9 points. I've learnt to use one method on the 5D's and know that i can choose either on the other bodies. As for the apeture range, if you trust the body/lens combo then go for using F2 - F2.8 but try changing it up every now and then to get variety as other posters have mentioned

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    Ausphotography Regular swifty's Avatar
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    There's a whole host of reasons for shooting at various apertures, sometimes its insurance to have adequate DOF, sometimes for adequate exposure purposes and of course for creative control and isolation.

    I think learning and practicing your AF techniques should ensure good success rates even when shooting wide open. I regularly shoot at f1.4 if I want the effect and will rarely stop down for insurance purposes. I stop down more so for DOF purposes.

    I normally use the closest AF point to my composition focus point so I minimise the recomposing element, often not needing to recompose at all. It sometimes fail because AF sensors on full frames pretty much all bunch around the centre of the frame so it gets less reliable if you want the focus point near the periphery. In these cases I do sometimes stop down to allow for the greater amount of recomposition focus error.

    But yea, once you get the hang of it, switching AF points on the fly is not difficult and can be done quickly without needing to leave your eye off the viewfinder.

    Finally, DOF is not only about aperture alone of course. So shooting with large apertures doesn't automatically result in a blurry mess and a single point of focus. Sometimes you have to shoot with large apertures for exposure purposes.
    Nikon FX

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