Prefocus This

Street photography often depends on speed, and how quick you can be with your shutter. Not just the shutter, but the aperture, shutter speed, focus and all the other junk you have to think about, like framing. One little “trick” I’ve learned is to prefocus.

I can’t estimate how far away fourteen feet is (I try by visualizing basketball hoops lying down — they’re ten feet tall), and my lenses have fairly unreliable allowances on their distance markings. But, I can look at a subject, realize that I want to photograph them, and then turn and focus on an object that’s exactly the same distance away, but in an entirely different direction, like behind me.

Once I have everything set-up, I can turn and photograph the subject quickly and cleanly, without fumbling or changing the scene (much). I’m not a graphic designer, but here’s an example. If you want to take a picture of the cowboy, guestimate on the exact same distance in the opposite direction (the star!), focus there, then turn and click the cowboy.

This is really helpful with cameras that you focus manually. If you have an auto-focus whiz-bang camera, you’re probably all set.

Yee-haw! Clip art!

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