Manually focusing on the wrong "sharp edge"?

P N Stenquist pnstenquist at
Mon Jul 19 16:20:31 EDT 2010

On Jul 19, 2010, at 3:24 PM, Larry Colen wrote:

> I was photographing a friend playing in a small club in Capitola the  
> other night. When I reviewed my photos, I found that an awful lot of  
> them were focused on sharp edges in front of the musician:
> The tip jar, drum kit, microphone etc.
> I understand how this happens with autofocus. The camera is too  
> stupid to know what to focus on and focuses on the sharp edge.  What  
> I don't understand is why this happens on manual focus. *I* should  
> know better.
> One challenge that I have in low light is actually seeing the line  
> of the split prism to try and line that up on the musician.  
> Especially musicians that tend to move around a lot.  As such, I may  
> rely a lot more on the microprism ring, and wonder if I just focus  
> until I see whatever is in that ring come into focus, and not notice  
> that it's not actually the subject that I'm trying to photograph.   
> More a case of my brain saying "something is sharp, press the  
> shutter".
> I'm curious if other people have this problem when manually  
> focusing, and what they do to fix it.

I simply use a plain matte screen and pick the spot on which I want to  
focus -- frequently an eye. I find that split prisms are a distraction  
for people pics. On my Leica rangefinder, I'm forced to align split  
images, but I still target my spot, and judge the alignment as best I  
can. Targeting the point of focus is the most important step.

> I got what I thought was an amusing compliment on my dancing that  
> night.  I had a rather nice slow blues dance with an attractive  
> young lady. Afterwards, she said in a rather husky voice "I need a  
> cigarette". Unfortunately, she was married. Even worse, her husband  
> doesn't share.
> I did get a couple shots of the lead singer which turned out pretty  
> well:
> In the second one Amy Lou isn't as sharp as I'd like,  but I do like  
> the way the composition worked out with Gary (the bass player) in  
> the background.
> --
> Larry Colen lrc at sent from i4est
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