7 months ago

V1 Issue 1

Back Button Focus Its

Back Button Focus Its BBF not BFF but it could become a BFF! By Pete Rezac, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, PPC-M, PPC-S Diane Costello, M.Photog.Cr., CPP 10 • FOCUS OREGON

Greetings friends! I’m embarking on a venture that I don’t normally do and that is WRITE an article! Thank you to Lisa Dillon for the invitation and challenge to write about a topic that I just learned about a few years ago and that would be Back Button Focus (BBF). Many of you are probably very skilled and have known about BBF for years and it’s probably now become one of your BFF’s (Best Friends Forever) – not that photography techniques can become your friends…well actually, now that I think of it maybe they can because this technique has changed my way of working forever and I love it! You may be asking why I love it so. It’s because this techniques separates the two jobs the shutter release normally does—first, focusing and second, shutter release (firing). Separating the Focusing and Firing functions essentially took me back to how manual film cameras work. The lens will stayed focus until I changed it rather than hunting for a new focus point after each shutter release. This is particularly helpful when photographing posed families with small children. I cannot tell you how many times, prior to learning about BBF, that I would be working with a family with a small children and make a frame only to then have something amazing happen a moment later that ended up out of focus because the focus and fire were on the same button and in my haste, I missed it. So frustrating! I don’t know that I’ve missed many moments since making the move to BBF. So you might be asking yourself or talking to me remotely saying “Pete! I don’t do posed families—I like to capture the moment as it happens”. How’s BBF going to help me?” Well, for capturing moving subjects, you set your camera to autofocus and then pick a focus point (the wild puppy or busy child) and then just hold that back button the entire time while pressing shutter release as the action unfolds. Your camera will keep focus on the point you have selected and the shutter button will just serve to fire the camera. It’s crazy how well this technique works and it’s actually how I discovered BBF when we got our new puppy 3 years ago. BBF is particularly important if you use the focus and recompose technique because once you get your focus and then go to recompose, if your finger lifts at all, when you click the shutter, the focus is changed again. This is especially difficult when you are trying to focus on a subject that isn’t in the center of your screen—you know, using the Rule of Thirds and all that. You focus on the family to the right then recompose for a pleasing composition but lift your finger slightly and then bam, the focus goes to the background and your family is thrown out of focus. Ok so those who have not discovered BFF yet you may be wondering “how do I set my camera up to use it?” My answer is simple - YouTube! You could look in your camera manual (if you still have it) for it but it isn’t called Back Button Focus in the manual—each manufacturer calls it something different. Those that know me know that I’m a fan and huge proponent of in-person education, but in this case YouTube is the place to help you out. Search for Back Button Focus and your Camera Model. Chances are very high that you’ll find a video of someone showing you exactly how to set your particular camera up. It may take a little time to warn up to the new way of focusing and it is going to feel weird working with BFF at first, but hang in there. You’ll reprogram you brain and muscle memory and be grateful you did! I adapted quite quickly and I noticed almost immediately that my images were sharper. I can’t tie that point to anything scientific for you to research, but it’s my guess is that because there’s no lag between focus and shutter release (no matter how fast that maybe) that the images appear a bit sharper! So go give it try and thank me later when you’ve made BBF your BFF. Cheers! Pete is a small business owner providing luxury black and white fine art portraiture in Reno, NV. Pete holds Master of Photography, Photographic Craftsman, and Certified Professional Photographer degrees and designation from PPA. Sits on the Board of Directors for Professional Photographers of California and has earned the PPC Master and Service Medallions. He also routinely provides print critiques for the print competitors of OPPA. SPRING 2018 FOCUS OREGON • 11

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