There’s a funny middle area in photography… and it’s a hard area for finding learning resources. If we rank a photographer’s skill on a scale of 1 (total newbie) to 10 (expert), it can sometimes be hard to find material that will educate and inform the photographer who’s between three and seven. There are lots of “getting started” resources, and lots of things for those who’ve mastered many techniques, but what about the middle?
Finding Focus is a new photography ebook by Nicole Young (better known online as Nicolesy). Finding Focus is a book about applied photography knowledge when it comes to focus. One might think that focusing is a basic subject, and while the basic act of making the camera focus is relatively straightforward I was excited to see the various related topics tackled in this book.
What the Heck Will You Learn?
Here are some of the topics covered in the book… things you might’ve heard about but weren’t sure why you needed to know them. Or maybe you haven’t heard of the term but you’re missing out because with a bit of learning you could make your photos even better. Inside you’ll learn about:
- How lens selection (and lens compression) affects both the camera’s focus and your viewer’s perception of a subject.
- How that lens selection affects the appearance of a person’s face in a portrait (hint: the wrong lens can be quite unflattering).
- How to make a star-shaped pattern when photographing lights in the dark.
- What is back-button focus (and why should you care)?
- What’s that “DOF Preview” button on the camera for?
- What’s hyperfocal distance, and should I care even if I haven’t eaten too much sugar?
In addition to the gear-related and technique concerns of how to best focus, there’s a good discussion of using focus as a storytelling element when making a photograph.
What About Post?
While a majority of Finding Focus looks at focus technique in-camera, it would be remiss to not also speak to focus-related subjects in the digital darkroom. Three bits of software are discussed. First, the author explores how to apply sharpening in both Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop (including how to understand what all those darned slider controls do). This is followed by a quick look at onOne Software’s Focal Point, and how it can be used to add creative focusing effects.
So Is This Book any Good, or What?
Oh, you wanted more than that? As I said earlier, I think this book fits an oft-neglected place in that it offers information for those who have started to take their photography seriously but still have much to learn about focus and related techniques. The author assumes that one knows how to operate their camera (such as how to put it in aperture priority mode) but doesn’t presume that someone has already mastered the implications of such configurations. I like how the book was written and I think it’ll be of a great value for that audience.
You can buy Finding Focus for the usual Craft & Vision ebook price of $5… and as usual, the content is much more valuable than that amount. I’m an affiliate for Craft & Vision because their stuff is, as the cool kids say, the shizz.