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4. Taking Your First Shot 

Here’s what I want you to do.

Find a small cup and keep it on a table in front of you, like shown below:

For this shot, we’re just learning how to focus and take a shot, so we’ll be using the automatic mode. So turn the mode dial to AUTOMATIC mode, as shown in the image below:

Before we go on and take the shot, here is a very important thing you have to know.

There are two ways of focusing in a DSLR camera.

One is called Auto-Focus (AF) and the other is called Manual Focus (MF).

AF is a faster way of focusing since the camera does the focusing for us. In MF, we need to focus manually.

What this exactly means is something that will become clear to you when we actually take the shot.

AF or MF can be activated using a switch that is on the lens. Look at the image to see this:

This can be represented as ‘A’ and ‘M’ also on some lenses.

We’ll cover manual focus slightly later as it’s not that important right now. So for now, make sure you have selected AF as shown in the image below:

Now we’re all set to take our first shot.

Watch the video below to see what to do. Alternatively, you can read the description too.

Video 4: Taking Your First Shot

Nikon users, click here to watch the video

Canon users, click here to watch the video

Make sure the cup is front of your camera, so you see the cup through the live-view screen as shown in the image below:

Next, make sure the focus point is touching the cup as shown in the image.

For Canon users, if you find that you’re not seeing a single square as the focus point, watch the video to see how to select a single focus point.

If you find that your focus point has drifted to the corners, you can move it by using the keypad and bring it in the centre as shown in the image below:

Now we’re ready to focus on the cup.

To focus, half-press the shutter button, as shown in the image below:

You’ll see that the focus point starts to hunt for focus.

Keep the shutter button half-pressed till the FOCUS LOCKS! When it locks, you’ll see that the colour of the focus point has changed to green and you’ll also hear a small beep. (If you don’t hear the beep, you can enable the beep through the settings in the menu. See the manual.)

Once the focus locks, press the shutter button all the way to take the shot.

Make sure you kept the shutter button half pressed after the focus locked. If you release it after the focus locks, the focusing process will start again.

There you have it! Your very first shot!

If you find that the camera is unable to focus, i.e. the focus point turns red, it can be because of the following reasons:

  • You are too close to the cup. There has to be a little bit of a distance between the lens and the subject. So make sure you are not very close to it.
  • You are focusing on something that is totally plain. For example, if the cup is totally white and plain, the camera may find it hard to focus on something as there is no contrasting point. In this case, you can put the focus point on something that stands out, like the edge of the cup. You can also draw something on a cup, like a big dot, and then focus on it.

Manual Focus

Even though manual focusing is not used too much, it’s always a good idea to know how it works.

So the first thing you would do is to switch the focus mode from AF to MF, as shown in the image below:

In the last shot, when the focus mode was set on Auto-Focus (AF), you saw that half pressing the shutter button started the focusing process and the camera focused on the subject.

Now when you are on MF, you’ll see that nothing happens when you half press the shutter.

This is because we are on Manual Focus now. So we will have to focus on our own.

And how you do that is by using the focus ring.

The focus ring is located right next to the zoom ring in most cameras, as shown in the images below for Canon and Nikon cameras respectively:

Some cameras can have the focus ring behind the zoom ring. You should be easily able to locate it.

When you rotate the focus ring, you’ll see that the camera’s focus changes as you rotate, like shown in the video below:

Video 5: How to Use Manual Focus

Nikon users, click here to watch the video

Canon users, click here to watch the video

So your job is to rotate the focus ring till the time you see the object sharp.

When that’s the case, all you have to do is press the shutter button to take the shot.

You can see that it’s not an easy task to focus when you use manual focus. It’s time consuming and not that accurate if not done properly. Hence, majority of the times, we use AF. So switch back to AF now, like shown in the image below:

Now that we have some basics done and dusted, it’s time to really get down to business, which is – LEARNING THE MANUAL MODE.

Next Chapter: Learning How to Shoot in the Manual Mode