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Monday, April 12, 2010

Focus on the Eyes

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© 2010 Simon Hucko

Quick tip today to help with your portrait photography. As you know, I'm a focus then recompose photographer. So what do I focus on?

This isn't a trivial question, especially if you're shooting with a shallow depth of field. The answer is, always focus on the eyes. The eyes are what make a portrait, and as long as they're in focus the viewer will perceive the photo as being sharp. This is why it's important to choose your own focus point and not let the camera do it for you. If you're shooting with your fast 50 wide open, it's perfectly possible to have the eyes in focus and the tip of the nose and the ears starting to go soft. If you let the camera choose, it could grab on to something else (the tip of the nose is closest), and you'll wind up with a blurry shot. I usually grab onto the inside corner of the eye, because it's a nice high contrast point to focus on.

Another portrait trick is to enhance the eyes a bit in post. Brighten the whites of the eyes, boost the saturation a touch, and denoise/sharpen them. This will make them pop a bit, and give your portrait that extra "wow" factor. Note: DO NOT go overboard with this. I've seen plenty of neon eyes blazing out from plastic skin before, and it's not pretty. As with other editing "tricks," subtlety is key. Do this in photoshop on a separate layer so that you can blend it in to taste.


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Still don't have a fast prime?
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens
Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras
Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras


[title of blog] on flickr

1 comment:

  1. Great tip, and I love how the green in the background plays off the green in your cat's eyes!