Be quiet, can’t you see I’m trying to focus?

I am trying to change my method for focussing my DSLR cameras. This is not a small step. As far back as I can remember into the mists of photographic time I have activated focus by pressing the shutter button halfway down and then taking the image by completing the action. I started to read about what is called back-button focussing. Instead of me trying to explain this let Rudy Winston of Canon do so, here.  It means I have to reset what several buttons do, relearn their functions and change the way I hold the camera.  I have for example swapped the AF and Exposure Lock buttons. The shutter no longer has any effect on focus. I am now keeping my thumb on the  exposure lock button to make focus and track and immediately I release focus stays locked as if I am in single shot mode. It is not  a big change but I am programmed to do it the old way and the brain needs its software reinstalled and a reboot. Several times. A brief experiment today suggested to me that the pain is worth it, especially as it will be for a relatively modest amount of my work. Most of my macro work tends to be with manual focus and live view so it is primarily the birds that will need this.

The experiment was photographing a bird in the bath. My first 2 frames shook me as I had not appreciated how low the light was under the cloudy sky. So I ended up pushing the ISO up to 1600 and still only getting 1/320s at F5.6. Not great for sharpness in fast motion feather fluttering. Here it is:

You can see it is not razor-sharp and I wouldn’t expect to see motion stopped totally at this speed. I had set the camera to T 1/500 but clearly there wasn’t enough light and it only gave me 1/320s as the aperture on my 400mm F5.6 lens was already wide open.  The alternative was pushing the ISO up higher but then it is vulnerable to noise. I want to practice in better light and make sure I can make sharp images.

I also hooked up a new 2TB back up drive to the new laptop and the first TM back up took several hours. If anyone has Time Machine Scheduler installed I’d like to know what you think of it.

Another work day tomorrow.

Oh and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate this fine festival in America. May your day be joyful and fulfilling.

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