The eyes have it

Most good por­traits boast pin-sharp eyes, so dis­cover which set­tings you need to fo­cus at­ten­tion where it mat­ters most

NPhoto - - Special Feature -

Por­traits are typ­i­cally shot on a short to medium tele­photo lens at a wide aper­ture in or­der to make the sub­ject stand out clearly from the back­ground. The com­bi­na­tion of a longer fo­cal length lens and a very wide aper­ture means that depth of field is much more limited than when shoot­ing land­scapes with a wide-an­gle lens. Be­cause of this fo­cus­ing needs to be very pre­cise. The band of fo­cus may be just a few cen­time­tres deep when tak­ing a close-up por­trait, so it’s im­por­tant that the sub­ject is sharp where it mat­ters.

The cru­cial part of any por­trait is the eyes, so at least one eye needs to be sharp, no mat­ter what. As long as this is the case, it al­most doesn’t mat­ter if noth­ing else within the frame is in fo­cus – the viewer will en­gage with the sub­ject of the photo au­to­mat­i­cally.

Another con­sid­er­a­tion is that your sub­ject is un­likely to stay com­pletely still, even when you’re shoot­ing a for­mal stu­dio por­trait, and any head move­ments, how­ever mi­nor, could well throw the sub­ject’s eyes slightly out of fo­cus. This prob­lem will be more ex­ag­ger­ated the closer you are to your sub­ject, so it’s im­por­tant to have your Nikon set up cor­rectly so that you can be sure of get­ting the cru­cial part of ev­ery por­trait sharp.

Top Blur­ring out dap­pled light in the back­ground re­sults in a lovely ‘bokeh’ ef­fect, which helps to fo­cus at­ten­tion on your sub­ject

Bot­tom When you’re fur­ther away from sub­jects, fo­cus­ing on their face(s) should be suf­fi­cient to get the key el­e­ments in sharp fo­cus

Above When shoot­ing

con­tre­jour, or into the light, fo­cus on the rim­light around your sub­ject’s face to help them re­ally stand out

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