THE HALF PRESS – Photography Tip #11

There’s a technique that I learned in my recent photography class that I thought I would share with you today.  Keep in mind, these tips are basic in nature.  I certainly realize there are photographers who visit this blog on a regular basis who no doubt are well aware of most of these techniques.  My hope is that you will contribute a comment that might further explain or help in these areas.  And if you’re like me and just beginning your journey into photography, I hope these tips will help you as much as they have me.

This technique is called the “Half Press” and it’s helpful when attempting to focus your subject within the composition of the frame.  The problem: I want to focus on my subject, but I don’t want them to be in the center of my shot.  My auto-focus continues to focus on something other than my subject.  What do I do?

  1. First, change your camera settings to utilize only the center focusing point.  This will enable you to control what is focused and what is not.  In the beginning, I had all the focal points activated which can be anywhere from 7 or more points, depending upon your camera.  With this setting, the camera decides what will be the focal point – not you!  The more control you take away from the camera – the better.
  2. Next, place that center focal point directly on your subject and press the shutter release halfway and hold.  Now the auto-focus on your lens is doing exactly what you want it to do – focusing on your subject.
  3. With the shutter depressed halfway, you may now place your subject wherever you like within the frame (always remembering the rule of thirds).  As long as the shutter is depressed halfway, your subject will continue to be in focus no matter where you place them within the frame.

Of course someone may ask, why can’t I just activate the left focal point if I want my subject in the left of my frame and the right focal point if I want my subject in the right of my frame?  The simple answer is, you can.  But, you will find yourself constantly changing your focal settings which can become rather tiring after a while.  You may also ask, why can’t I disengage my auto-focus and manually focus the shot.  Again, you may.  However, most of the time I’ve found my focusing skills far inferior to the camera’s auto-focusing feature.  

Since I’m constantly locating my subjects in different areas within the frame, this technique saves me an enormous amount of time!  It’s quick and easy!

What would a photography blog post be without at least one photograph?  I’ll never know, because I have to post at least one shot!  So, I decided to include this abstract flora I shot yesterday.

A Flower within a Flower

This is a nice abstract that I created from a recent walk around my office building.  You may like it.  You may not.  But I have to say, I’m having a blast with this journey!  And, I’m glad you’ve come along for the ride.

Thanks for stopping by.  I’ll see you tomorrow!


~ by photographyfree4all on September 22, 2010.

19 Responses to “THE HALF PRESS – Photography Tip #11”

  1. Allow me to be one of the first commenters. Your instructions pertaining to the “half-press” are right on the money. I’ve never heard it called that, but it is very apt. I call it selective focus, but it doesn’t matter what you call it. You done a fine job of telling how to do it. I couldn’t have said it better.

    By the way, I use that center point exclusively when I photograph wildlife. It is especially helpful, when trying to photograph a bird amongst a bunch of tree branches. Then I put that focus point right on the eye, which is essential.

    I’m not sure about your abstract. Maybe it will grow on me. 🙂

    By the way, I am glad that you bring up these various subjects for discussion.


    P.S. It took me so long to right this comment, I reckon that by now I am not one of the first. 🙂


  2. Thanks for the tips. It is much appreciated. I wonder because everyones camera settings are different, if you can get that same kind of an affect, by setting it on a portrait setting, and it would make the background dimmer?


  3. If I may, I would like to respond to elenaramirez question.

    Not necessarily. It would depend on your aperature, etc. That is what effects the amount of blur in the background. The main thing is that you want your subject to be the sharpest.

    Bob Zeller


  4. I think you made it, Bob! I was constantly having a problem with the camera deciding where to focus until I did this. You know what they say about photography (the abstract)…if you like it, that’s what’s important. I guess that’s true unless you’re trying to sell your work! 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by, Bob! I really appreciate your comments. They truly add to the posts.


  5. I agree with Bob on his reply. Even in a portrait setting, the camera still has most of the control when it comes to aperture and focus. Elena, thank you for this comment and question. This is exactly what I love to see. Your question opens a discussion that will help all of us as we try to become better at our photography! Thanks for stopping by.


  6. Thanks, Bob! I agree. I’m learning the more control I have, the more the shot will be like I want it to be. Thanks for jumping in with your expertise! I really appreciate it and it truly adds to the post.


  7. Follow me and you’ll be wearing jewels. 🙂


  8. You are brilliant! And your energy and enthusiasm are infecting. I love it and or course, am nutso about photography too. I hope it never ends.


  9. Angelia, you are too kind! Thank you for this comment. I’m glad you stopped by today! Photography is a wonderful art, and I do love it! I’m glad you’re enjoying this blog! Come back and visit again, soon!


  10. 🙂


  11. Thanks for the tip, I find that I just take a wider photo and crop when I don’t want the focus in the centre. But this would help me to see how things look before I get back to the computer.


  12. You should try it Zoe! The less cropping you have to do to your shot, the more pixels you retain for the finished product. I so glad you stopped by and contributed with this comment! I hope you’ll visit again, soon.


  13. I like it. I’m enjoying the comments too. Lots to learn here. 🙂


  14. Great advice. Autofocus on my D90 was driving me crazy when I first got it–all those points lighting up! I finally switched to manual (not easy after years of autofocus) and am getting the focus I want now. Having 20/20 vision helps, I’m sure.


  15. I’m so glad you mentioned the comments, Robin. They can be a great addition to the original post. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment, too! I hope you’ll stop by again tomorrow. It’s Friday Favorite – surely you’ll want to cast your vote! Thanks.


  16. Well your eyesight is a tad better than mine, Pearls! 🙂 I remember when manual focus was the only option. But now, I’m glad to depend on technology to focus for me. I’m so glad you stopped by today! I hope you’ll stop by tomorrow and cast your vote for your Friday favorite! Thanks.


  17. Thanks to both of you knowledgeable gentleman for your insights! I enjoy, and appreciate your thoughts on this matter.


  18. Your very welcome, Elena! But, thank you for getting these discussions started with a really good question.


  19. Excellent description of this method. I use various focal points, most times centre, but sometimes I use some of the others depending on composition. Nice post!


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