All featured images were taken by and remain the property of Chris Brooks

Photographic Techniques by Chris Brooks

Focusing and Camera Support

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Focusing

Should you use manual or auto focusing, the answer is that it's best to select what suits you. In the main I personally prefer auto focusing as it is much quicker, which is particularly important on those subjects which are more easily disturbed. On some subjects you just cannot afford to take too long setting up your image, if you do you risk losing your opportunity.

Some cameras will have problems auto focusing on smaller subject planes, the Emerald Damselfly being an example. Whilst at rest it spreads its wings and the only realistic focusing point is on the top of its thorax which is a rather small area. In these circumstances manual focusing may be more fruitful.

I only ever have the centre focusing point selected on my camera. This means that when auto focusing you can home in on the centre of the subject and the camera does not focus on other off centre features, for example, the surrounding vegetation.

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Hand Held verses Camera Support

As I have previously stated I prefer hand held photography. The use of a monopod or tripod is not always desirable or in fact possible.

When approaching a subject which is likely to fly off if the level of disturbance is too high, you do not want to be battling with the tripod settings as well. There are also locations where the use of mechanical camera support is just not feasible.

Hand held photography however requires a good level of lighting to achieve the necessary depth of field. The minimum shutter speed for a successful hand held image should be somewhere around 1/200th of a second, any slower and you risk camera movement blurring your image.

Therefore in low light conditions you may have to resort to a monopod / tripod or risk the depth of field being minimal which will result in parts of your image being out of focus. 

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