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Wink11 Jul 25, 2011 8:59 PM

Help me focus!
Feeling frustrated w/ my focusing skills. I'm shooting w/ a d90 and a 35mm 1.8 lens. My subjects are kids and families. I bounce between the AF-A and the AF-S mode. I try and point the focus on the bridge of the nose b/w the eyes. I like the apeture of 1.8 to have the blur background so I'm trying to keep my shutter speed above 60. However my images are extreamly soft. How do I achieve tack sharp images on images of a single person and on multiples of people?

Thank you


JeannieBug Jul 25, 2011 9:04 PM

Have you tried bringing your aperture up a stop, or an increment or two? That might not affect the blur too much, but give you the clarity you're looking for.

Bob Nichol Jul 25, 2011 9:34 PM

Sounds like you are shooting indoors or at night. Have you tried doubling the ISO once or twice to get the shutter speed up to about 1/250? You may be getting motion blur from both you holding the camera and subject motion.

Wink11 Jul 25, 2011 10:24 PM

yes, indoor and under some trees where the light was pretty dim. My iso for indoor and dim outside is at 400. I'll have to experiment w/ higher iso. Also, I'll try bring up a stop or two. Where is a comfortable shutter speed to prevent hand shake or motion blur?

Also, what setting do you use AF-A or AF-S? And when shooting sisters or a family of four where do you put your focus point? I've tried b/w the persons or on the face of one member and hope for the best? lol

Thanks for the tips....I'll practice them!

JeannieBug Jul 25, 2011 10:35 PM

I've never done a group photo where the background was blurred, so I'm afraid I'm not going to be any help on that one... But, I would likely put the focus in middle of the group and yeah, hope for the best! :)

To prevent hand shake, I would suggest the use of a tripod, whenever possible. And if you don't have a tripod, then some other stationary object like a car or something, if you can.

TCav Jul 25, 2011 10:46 PM

Can you post one of the shots your not happy with?

Wink11 Jul 25, 2011 10:58 PM

yes, I would love some feedback. I never posted a pic let me figure it out and I'll put one up tomorrow.

JeannieBug, what apeture do you suggest I use for a family of 4?

Thanks all!

fldspringer Jul 25, 2011 11:00 PM

I vote for flash.

JeannieBug Jul 26, 2011 12:48 AM


Originally Posted by Wink11 (Post 1243964)
JeannieBug, what apeture do you suggest I use for a family of 4?

Whoo! You're testing my rusty skills! LOL I haven't thought about all this stuff since my SLRs died (about six years ago); and I just got my DSLR a couple of days ago. I trust (hope!) that someone will correct me if I'm wrong. I'd hate to give you bad advice!

Let's see... A family of four... I'm assuming they are sitting in a row, rather than one in front of the other.

  • Tripod, about... Mmmm... 10 feet away..? That really depends on the shot you're going for... Fill the frame. Put the tripod (or other support) in a place where you can make that happen.
  • Cable release or timer. The less you touch the camera, the less chance of shake.
  • ISO - you said you like 400.
  • Shutter speed... I'm thinking like a 4 or 8... Maybe a little faster.
  • Aperture... I think an 8 would probably be good. You want that stopped down enough to get the blurred background, but that means that it's going to take longer for your subjects' image to reach the (I started to say film!) sensor. Hence the slower shutter speed.
I never used anything faster than 200 film; and most often it was 100. But, I really didn't do a lot of people shots, it was mostly artsy landscapes and still life type stuff. Well, that's not really accurate... I did photograph people, but not in a portrait style.

I bought a couple of books on portrait photography; thinking I'd like to learn how to do it, once I got my cameras fixed. I guess I better go dig them out!

If this is a formal shoot, I would strongly suggest that you practice ahead of time. Figure out where you need to set your tripod, etc. That way, the day of, you're ready to go.

I sure hope this helps and that I don't just confuse you further (or worse, steer you in a completely wrong direction!)

Bob Nichol Jul 26, 2011 8:50 AM

We discussed group shots here

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