Getting Sharp Focus on Off-Center Subjects

Once you've changed your camera's auto focus area to a single focus point, you now need to place that focus point on the subject you want sharp before taking the photo. But if your subject is not in the middle of the picture, you may still end up with the wrong thing in focus.

Here's where focus and recompose come to the rescue. In this technique, you place the focus square on your subject and press the shutter button halfway to make the camera focus. Keeping your finger on the shutter button pressed halfway forces the camera to "remember" where you focused. Then recompose the picture with the subject off center by moving the camera. When you are satisfied with the arrangement, press the shutter button all the way to take the shot.

Left: AF point focused on background trees; Center: AF point focused on the flag
and statue; Right: Camera moved so the subject shifts to the right, making
the background blurred and the flag and statue sharp

In the pictures above, the first frame shows the center auto focus square focused on the background trees, leaving the flag and statue blurred. The second frame shows the auto focus square placed over the flag and statue, making them clearly focused. Between the second and third frame, I moved the camera to the left while keeping my finger pressed halfway down on the shutter button. When I liked where the statue and flag appeared in the photo, I pressed the shutter all the way down to take the shot in the third frame. This made the background blurred and the statue and flag sharp.

To learn how to make this and other changes to your camera settings, check out my one-day Getting to Know Your Digital SLR Camera class on January 27, 2018, in Missoula, Montana. (There's also a session on February 24.) Any camera that allows you to switch lenses is appropriate for this class. Click here to register online.