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Fundamentals of Photography

Lesson 43 of 107

Focusing Q&A


Fundamentals of Photography

Lesson 43 of 107

Focusing Q&A


Lesson Info

Focusing Q&A

Alright, John, I do have a number of questions that have come in. Let's address these. For this section, so thank you for pausing. Okay, the first one was from Amanda Ellis. Do all cameras have group focus points? I think all cameras that I have seen have a group focusing point. And when you put the camera in that green auto box mode, that's generally what's activated. But even if you're in a manual mode, you can use the full big box if you want. Great. So, there are some questions and conversations around using auto focus continuous, and a single point, and why would you not have that on all the time? Like, if your subject was maybe gonna be moving, and then stopped. Right, well, it is possible that you could leave your camera in continuous all the time. If I am focusing on a person, and I'm using continuous, what's gonna happen is you will hear the lens or the camera just constantly trying to get sharp focus. And what you want it to do, is just get it and stop. So, that the...

re's no other sort of movement. So, it might have some movements while the photograph is taking. Now, the other thing is if you want to get your subject off frame, the only way to do that with continuous is a focus lock button. So, you would have to lock focus, and move it off. And that just means you need to have good finger dexterity in order to do that. And that is a good option if you were going to be doing bird photography. The problem with what they were asking was they were talking about using a single point. I challenge you to use a single point on small bird flying. It's gonna be very hard to keep that single point on the bird flying. It's gonna be much larger to keep a big target on that bird. And then when it lands on the post over there, you press in the lock button, and then you can recompose and put that bird off to the left or the right hand side. And so that can work very well for certain types of photography. So, a quick question about focusing when you're using like a soft timer button or option. I mostly shoot food, so usually my subject isn't moving. But sometimes I wanna set up my tripod and have my hands in a shot. Or take a picture of me holding something. And I have a really hard time getting the focus that I want. So, if you're using a self-timer, I'm guessing the camera is on a tripod, right? Yeah. Yes. You should probably be manually focusing. Or you could back button, focus ahead of time. And that way when you press down on the shutter release, the camera's not gonna try to refocus on you. And so you could focus on your subject, recompose to the way that you want it to, lock the tripod in, set the self-timer, press the shutter release, and now it's not gonna focus because it's in back button focusing. Alright, we've got a lotta people having aha moments about back button focusing. We're really excited to get out there and try it. So, some of these might just be clarifications for you. So, from blind baby, if you're using back button focus, do you have to keep the back button pressed in for continuous focus? Yes, you do. And so this, for normal standard single focus, you would press it for as long as it takes to get that focus in. For continuous, you would leave it pressed the entire time. Let me share a quick story with you. The Seahawks photographer is a professional football photographer. He uses the top of the line gear, and he knows exactly what he's doing. And he talked about his focusing technique. He uses back button focusing. And he's got the running back coming towards him, but he can see out of the corner of his frame, when a referee or player is gonna cross in front. What he does is he's focusing, he's shooting photos, he will lift off of the focus so that it stops trying to refocus on the player or the ref that's interfering. He keeps taking photos. When the player has cleared the frame, he continues pressing down on the focus, so that it reengages, and he does this all in a (snapping) bit of time. And so that's when I talk about the skill levels of focusing. When you get involved with the subjects that you know, and you get to know the equipment that you work with, that's how he figured out the best technique. And I'm like, wow, that's good. From Keri March, okay so, when recomposing after focusing, so focus and recompose, and then checking the focus point on your LCD screen, is there a way to show the real focus point as opposed to where you focused and recomposed? If you focus and recompose, let's say you used the center point for focusing. You focus on a subject, and you recompose, you use the center point for focusing, so that is the real focusing point. So, you're not gonna be able, the camera will not know what you were choosing to be the primary subject. So, no. There are a number of cameras, I believe, Canon and Nikon and there may be some others, that will show you as an option in the playback. When you play back an image, there's a lot of different information options. It'll show you an overlay of the focus points that either you or the camera chose to focus on. And I don't recommend using those, just 'cause it kind of clutters up the frame. But for people who are new to photography, or new to a particular camera, and you're learning how that camera works, you could choose all the focusing points, focus on a bunch of stuff, and go, oh, I see what the camera picked up on. And you start learning on how the camera works. And so it's good for a learning process on that, but yeah, that would be tricky where the camera just doesn't know. 'Cause you might have been focusing on something where there is no focusing points. Great, thank you. And so, this is for Dem Bartiz, who says, okay, I'm confused about the difference between back button focus and auto focus lock. Alright, so back button focus activates the focus. And auto focus lock holds it wherever it happens to be. And so, if you are focusing. And the back button lock would typically only really be used in continuous focusing. So if you're continuously focusing on a subject, and you occasionally want to pause it, you can press the AF lock button. And just, while I think about it, just options, when you get some of the bigger lenses, they have programmable buttons out on the lens, and you can program that as your focus lock button. Out there. Or your activation button. But the back button focusing can be used for single or continuous. The lock is typically only used for locking the continuous focusing.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

As a photographer, you will need to master the technical basics of the camera and form an understanding of the kind of equipment you need. The Fundamentals of Digital Photography will also teach something even more important (and crucial for success) - how to bring your creative vision to fruition.

Taught by seasoned photographer John Greengo, the Fundamentals of Digital Photography places emphasis on quality visuals and experiential learning. In this course, you’ll learn:

  • How to bring together the elements of manual mode to create an evocative image: shutter speed, aperture, and image composition.
  • How to choose the right gear, and develop efficient workflow.
  • How to recognize and take advantage of beautiful natural light.

John will teach you to step back from your images and think critically about your motivations, process, and ultimate goals for your photography project. You’ll learn to analyze your vision and identify areas for growth. John will also explore the difference between the world seen by the human eye and the world seen by the camera sensor. By forming an awareness of the gap between the two, you will be able to use your equipment to its greatest potential.


  1. Class Introduction
  2. Photographic Characteristics
  3. Camera Types
  4. Viewing System
  5. Lens System
  6. Shutter System
  7. Shutter Speed Basics
  8. Shutter Speed Effects
  9. Camera & Lens Stabilization
  10. Quiz: Shutter Speeds
  11. Camera Settings Overview
  12. Drive Mode & Buffer
  13. Camera Settings - Details
  14. Sensor Size: Basics
  15. Sensor Sizes: Compared
  16. The Sensor - Pixels
  17. Sensor Size - ISO
  18. Focal Length
  19. Angle of View
  20. Practicing Angle of View
  21. Quiz: Focal Length
  22. Fisheye Lens
  23. Tilt & Shift Lens
  24. Subject Zone
  25. Lens Speed
  26. Aperture
  27. Depth of Field (DOF)
  28. Quiz: Apertures
  29. Lens Quality
  30. Light Meter Basics
  31. Histogram
  32. Quiz: Histogram
  33. Dynamic Range
  34. Exposure Modes
  35. Sunny 16 Rule
  36. Exposure Bracketing
  37. Exposure Values
  38. Quiz: Exposure
  39. Focusing Basics
  40. Auto Focus (AF)
  41. Focus Points
  42. Focus Tracking
  43. Focusing Q&A
  44. Manual Focus
  45. Digital Focus Assistance
  46. Shutter Speeds & Depth of Field (DOF)
  47. Quiz: Depth of Field
  48. DOF Preview & Focusing Screens
  49. Lens Sharpness
  50. Camera Movement
  51. Advanced Techniques
  52. Quiz: Hyperfocal Distance
  53. Auto Focus Calibration
  54. Focus Stacking
  55. Quiz: Focus Problems
  56. Camera Accessories
  57. Lens Accessories
  58. Lens Adaptors & Cleaning
  59. Macro
  60. Flash & Lighting
  61. Tripods
  62. Cases
  63. Being a Photographer
  64. Natural Light: Direct Sunlight
  65. Natural Light: Indirect Sunlight
  66. Natural Light: Mixed
  67. Twilight: Sunrise & Sunset Light
  68. Cloud & Color Pop: Sunrise & Sunset Light
  69. Silhouette & Starburst: Sunrise & Sunset Light
  70. Golden Hour: Sunrise & Sunset Light
  71. Quiz: Lighting
  72. Light Management
  73. Flash Fundamentals
  74. Speedlights
  75. Built-In & Add-On Flash
  76. Off-Camera Flash
  77. Off-Camera Flash For Portraits
  78. Advanced Flash Techniques
  79. Editing Assessments & Goals
  80. Editing Set-Up
  81. Importing Images
  82. Organizing Your Images
  83. Culling Images
  84. Categories of Development
  85. Adjusting Exposure
  86. Remove Distractions
  87. Cropping Your Images
  88. Composition Basics
  89. Point of View
  90. Angle of View
  91. Subject Placement
  92. Framing Your Shot
  93. Foreground & Background & Scale
  94. Rule of Odds
  95. Bad Composition
  96. Multi-Shot Techniques
  97. Pixel Shift, Time Lapse, Selective Cloning & Noise Reduction
  98. Human Vision vs The Camera
  99. Visual Perception
  100. Quiz: Visual Balance
  101. Visual Drama
  102. Elements of Design
  103. Texture & Negative Space
  104. Black & White & Color
  105. The Photographic Process
  106. Working the Shot
  107. What Makes a Great Photograph?


a Creativelive Student

Love love all John Greengo classes! Wish to have had him decades ago with this info, but no internet then!! John is the greatest photography teacher I have seen out there, and I watch a lot of Creative Live classes and folks on YouTube too. John is so detailed and there are a ton of ah ha moments for me and I know lots of others. I think I own 4 John Greengo classes so far and want to add this one and Travel Photography!! I just drop everything to watch John on Creative Live. I wish sometime soon he would teach a Lightroom class and his knowledge on photography post editing.!!! That would probably take a LOT OF TIME but I know John would explain it soooooo good, like he does all his Photography classes!! Thank you Creative Live for having such a wonderful instructor with John Greengo!! Make more classes John, for just love them and soak it up! There is soooo much to learn and sometimes just so overwhelming. Is there anyway you might do a Motivation class!!?? Like do this button for this day, and try this technique for a week, or post this subject for this week, etc. Motivation and inspiration, and playing around with what you teach, needed so much and would be so fun.!! Just saying??? Awaiting gadgets class now, while waiting for lunch break to be over. All the filters and gadgets, oh my. Thank you thank you for all you teach John, You are truly a wonderful wonderful instructor and I would highly recommend folks listening and buying your classes.


I don't think that adjectives like beautiful, fantastic or excellent can describe the course and classes with John Greengo well enough. I've just bought my first camera and I am a total amateur but I fell in love with photography while watching the classes with John. It is fun, clear, understandable, entertaining, informative and and and. He is not only a fabulous photographer but a great teacher as well. Easy to follow, clear explanations and fantastic visuals. The only disadvantage I can list here that he is sooooo good that keeps me from going out to shoot as I am just glued to the screen. :-) Don't miss it and well worth the money invested! Thank you John!


Dear John, thanks for this outstanding classes. You are not only a great photographer and instructor, but your classes are pleasant, they are not boring, with a good sense of humor, they go straight to the point and have a good time listening to you. Please, keep teaching what you like most, and I will continue to look for your classes. And thanks for using a plain English, that it's important for people who has another language as native language. Thanks again, Juan