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How to photograph a running person without autofocus

In this article, you will learn how to take dynamic photos (how to photograph a running person) in conditions where fast focusing is not possible, and also when you do not have autofocus at all.

Sometimes you want to take a picture of something that’s just straight dynamics. The most obvious way is to turn on tracking focus (AF-C, AI Servo) and guide your model with the focus point on the face. Clear business, the point needs to be chosen independently so that it coincides with the face of the model. If your camera has good autofocus, and there is no interference like pigeons, then there will be no problems. But, even if you have a reliable modern camera with cool autofocus, the number may not work: autofocus will be distracted by pigeons and either refocus on them or freeze for a split second, releasing your model out of focus.

Here we must make a digression. Nikon has an interesting feature called “Tracking autofocus with Lock-ON” (maybe other companies have it). It allows you to keep the model in a tracking focus, even if people, pigeons and other animals occasionally slip between her and you. In the settings, set the delay (from 0 to 5): the larger it is, the longer the camera “waits” when the model returns to the frame. However, at this time, the AF freezes, and if the model runs at you, then the focus will be late for the time when the desired sensor overlaps with the dove. In short, this system will not help you.

We need a slightly more guaranteed result.

How to photograph a person running through pigeons?
And in my case, the camera generally had a manual lens (not having autofocus)!

The way out of this situation is quite simple:

Turn on manual mode M on the camera
Turn on burst shooting, it is usually indicated on your cameras like this: Burst designation Generally, this item is optional, but if you have fast burst shooting (at least 6 frames per second), then it will be worthwhile. If your camera takes 3-4 frames per second, there’s no particular sense – it’s easier to put single-frame mode and take single shots – you’ll catch more, especially with a good reaction)
Set the aperture value (F) to 8-11. This will allow you to achieve great depth of field. The smaller the aperture, the greater the depth of field. F / 2.8 is more, F10 is less, F / 16 is even less, if that)
Choose a wider focal length. For example, in this example, I used a MIR-1 lens with a focal length of 37mm on a Sony Nex3 camera. But you can use a wider angle. For example, if you have a whale 18-55 lens, set the zoom to position 24. This will be the golden mean between a large depth of field and the absence of perspective distortion. If you have a full-frame camera, 35mm will be the optimal focal length for you. But for fifty dollars you can take a picture if you practice. The smaller the focal length, the greater the depth of field.
Set shutter speed to 1/200. Actually, it is possible and much shorter, but then the pigeons will not be smeared with long strokes:
Girl running through pigeons
Girl Running Through Pigeons – Short Shutter Option
Take test shots. If they are too dark, you can slightly increase the ISO and open the aperture. Open the aperture in such a scene should be no more than to 5.6.
Now you need to focus. Choose an angle, stand in front of the model and focus about the middle of the crowd of pigeons.
How to focus on a running person
How to focus on a running person so that he is sharp
When choosing a distance to the focus point, remember one more pattern: the greater the distance to the zone of sharpness, the greater the depth of field. In other words, if you focus 2 meters away from you, the DOF will be small, and you will most likely not get into it. If you focus at 5-6 meters, the depth of field is already enough to take a couple of shots until a running person runs out of it.

Turn off autofocus! Everything, you have already focused, and you no longer need it. Turning off the focus, you exclude the associated moment of chance. To turn off autofocus, find the “A / M” switch on your lens / camera and set it to the M mode. Remember that now you cannot recklessly go back and forth, and when changing the angle, distance to the model, or focal length on the lens, focus need again! Yes, if you turned off the focus, then we do not touch the zoom 🙂
Point the camera and give the command to run. When the model approaches the field of sharpness, press the shutter button and hold it, let the camera take a few shots. Pigeons take off is quite difficult to predict, so you have to shoot at random.
And if you want to take a picture of your beloved spin-arrow, who completely ignores your commands and doesn’t want to run directly and precisely at you, use a tracking focus. But try to catch the child in moments when he is not running right at you, but a little at an angle, past. So the tracking focus of the camera is easier to catch and not be late.

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