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Entries in Pre Focus (1)

Tuesday
Feb012011

Tuesday's Photo Tip ~ Pre-Focusing

After last weeks cop out for a tip, I figured I would actually write this one myself ;-) This week we'll be taking a look at pre-focusing when taking photographs of birds, although you could apply this technique to other genres such as sports or wildlife.  This little tip may just end up being one of the best techniques you will ever learn, it certainly was for me.

The technique works like this: you focus the camera on a nearby static subject in order to capture the moving subject quicker and more accurately.  A great example to start with are Hummingbirds!  Hummers are one of fastest bird species on the planet which makes photographing them very difficult.  Not only that, they are small, I mean 3-4 inches of small!! :)  If you've ever tried to track one in flight, especially with a camera, then you know how quickly they move and how difficult of a task it can be - this is when pre-focusing can help you.

With this next photo I focused my camera on the flowers and pressed the shutter button halfway down;  all I needed was for the Hummer to enter frame.  When the hummer came close to the flower I happily fired away, all the while keeping my camera's focus point on the flower.  This technique eliminated my having to track the hummer in flight and increased my chances of getting a keeper just by cutting down on focusing time.

For the second example we'll go with a Downy Woodpecker, the cutest woodpecker of them all ;-)  Let's say your out at your local park and you notice a Downy on a tree branch but unfortunately there's a bunch of branches surrounding the bird, what do you do?  What I did was anticipate where the Downy would go knowing that they usually work an entire branch before moving to a different spot.  I scanned the rest of the branch for clean spots.  Once I found one, I pre-focused on the branch and waited for the Downy to enter my frame.  Once in frame I fired away!  Of course there's a good chance the bird will take off before getting into frame but that's the risk you have to take if you want to capture the best shot.

A couple weeks ago I actually tested this technique out at home on the perches we have setup on our patio and was shocked at the results.  When I randomly jumped from perch to perch following the birds I only came up with a few decent images.  When I pre-focused on just one perch and waited my keeper rate skyrocketed!

I hope you find this technique as helpful as I did!!  Next week we'll be taking a look at how I set up our patio for bird photography during the winter months.