One of the most common problems photographers face is nailing focus. It’s always annoying when you think you’ve taken a good image on location and then go home to find your subject is slightly blurry. Here’s how to make sure your photos are always in focus.
Focus is super important for photography. It’s a big part of taking sharp images and also a way to guide the viewer’s eyes. Humans are automatically drawn to the sharp areas of an image. If you miss focus, something will look subtly wrong, like in this shot of mine.
I messed up and focused on the guy’s hands. I love this shot otherwise but, sadly, since the focus is off, all I can do with it is use it as an example of my failings! Let’s make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to you.
Select the Correct Aperture
Focus and depth of field are related. The greater the depth of field, the more of your image will appear in focus. This means that aperture is a big part of focus—or really, a big part of how easy it is to focus.
Photojournalists and street photographers have a maxim: “f/8 and be there.” In other words, at f/8 with a normal lens, as long as you don’t focus on the background or the extreme foreground, everything in your shot will be in focus.
Conversely, if you’re using a long lens and a wide aperture like f/1.8, the depth of field could be just a few centimeters. We looked at this in full in my article on how to focus with wide aperture lenses.