7 Tips for Shooting Wide Open

I love the dreamy effect that shooting wide open at 2.0 or below has on my images, but let’s be real. It can be difficult to nail the focus when using those types of apertures. While practice makes perfect, there are still a few things to consider while mastering this technique.  Here are our tips for shooting wide open:

  1. Make sure everyone is on the same plane. If you have multiple people in the photo, it might be best to bump up that aperture for a few extra shots just in case.
  2. Find dynamic lighting that creates contrast – If your light is flat, the subject won’t pop as much in the image making it look less sharp than it is from the start. If you have good contrast and lighting in your image, the more sharp it’s going to appear.
  3. Don’t recompose – If you are a back button shooter, you might have a tendency to lock focus and recompose your image. However when you’re shooting at such low apertures that small shift in the camera plane can cause you to lose focus. Make sure you put your focus point on your most important spot (such as the eyes) and don’t move your camera once you’re locked.
  4. Always make sure you focus on the eyes – Putting your focus point on the nose or shirt will cause the eyes to not be in focus, making the image less striking. Always make sure the eye closest to you is the one that is in focus too.
  5. Distance – Get a good understanding of Depth of Field (DOF). This is the range of distances at which your focus is most sharp. The wider your aperture, the smaller your focal plane is. The closer you are to your subject, the less focus plane you have. Which means if you are right up on your subject, you have a your area of focus will be reeeaaallly small and very hard to nail. If you have more than one person, make sure they are all on the same plane and that you are further back from them.
  6. Steady – Make sure you are anchored well. If you are a wobbly person, try supporting yourself on a wall, locking in your elbows to your side, or widening your stance to help stable yourself. Having good balance helps the outcome of your images when you’re that wide open.
  7. Check Gear – If you still can’t figure out why your images are out of focus, send in your lens to have it checked. There might be something that needs fixed or calibrated that is causing it to not focus correctly. Also, it pays to invest in quality gear. The better the glass, the high quality and sharper your images will be. Lower end lenses can be slightly soft at wide apertures or have areas within the lens that don’t focus as well (i.e. only the center and not the edges)

Are you someone who loves to shoot wide open? What are some of your tips for getting sharp images?

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