Wildlife photography can be quite challenging, as the subject rarely remains static. For example, an animal won’t always sit still and pose for your picture, so you need to be quick and focus well to get the right results. The focus, along with a decent shutter speed, determines how sharp your photograph will be. If the subject moves after the lens has focused, the image can be blurred. Below are some focus tips that will help you get the sharpest pictures possible.
#1 Combine Autofocus and Manual Focus
Even the slightest movement can change the focus; so when you’re on continuous or autofocus (AF) mode, the lens focus can shift just as you press the shutter button. You can avoid this with manual focus, which won’t shift after you’ve set it. However, it’s not always easy to adjust a lens manually, especially if you have a large lens and want to take photos of fast-moving wildlife. A great way to avoid all of these problems is to use both of them. You can use autofocus to find the best focus before you switch to manual and lock it.
#2 Change the Point of Focus
Most cameras allow you the freedom to change the focal point according to your preferences. You can blur the foreground and highlight the background based on what you want to focus on and the aperture you set. If you choose AF, the camera selects a spot to focus on automatically and in most cases, it gets the focus right. However, sometimes you might want to highlight something else so you can adjust. With wildlife, you can try to predict where the subject would be in the following few seconds and then focus on that spot with AF. For example, if you know a bird is going to fly in a particular direction, you can focus on that particular spot and wait until the bird gets in frame before you press the shutter button completely. This ensures the subject is in sharp focus.
#3 Understand Different Types of Autofocus
Modern cameras come with two different types of AF. The Single-Shot AF or SAF (called One Shot in Canon cameras) is used mainly for static, non-moving subjects such as landscapes, macro, buildings or non-moving wildlife or people. This means the focus won’t change after it’s confirmed. The Continuous autofocus or CAF (called AI Servo for Canon cameras) is fluid and will shift as you follow your moving subject. Use Continuous autofocus on conjunction with burst or ‘repetitive shot’ mode.
If you have a passion for wildlife, nature or travel photography and would love to go on a small-number, professional photography adventure, please get in touch with Michael Snedic at WildNature Photo Expeditions. You can call him on 0408 941 965 or fill in this Contact Form and he will get back to you ASAP.