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Thread: How to set focus when doing self-portrait alone

  1. #1

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    How to set focus when doing self-portrait alone

    Hi,
    I have been taking some photos of myself because I cannot find a model.
    I use a self-timer, and usually try using something like a chair or something to set a focus, then set the timer and run to the place and kick the chair out...
    Does anyone have a good idea to keep a sharp focus on a subject yourself when you don't have anyone to help you out?

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: How to set focus when doing self-portrait alone

    Place an object in the position that your head is going to be. Focus on it. Replace object with head. Shoot!

    Use an aperture that's will give you a wide enough DoF to allow for any slight error in positioning.

    See avatar alongside this post.

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    groovesection's Avatar
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    Re: How to set focus when doing self-portrait alone

    I would recommend a remote or cabled shutter trigger and also if your camera supports Live View on the LCD simply set a mirror behind the camera to reflect the image so you can see the reflection
    (apologies for the crude image) But it illustrates what i am saying:

    How to set focus when doing self-portrait alone

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    Mark von Kanel's Avatar
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    Re: How to set focus when doing self-portrait alone

    Wow Anton, your an artist as well as a photog.... but youve gone posh on us, is that a hassleblad large format digital back youve drawn????

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    groovesection's Avatar
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    Re: How to set focus when doing self-portrait alone

    I am thinking of upgrading my current set up....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtZOWEB_wcI

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    Mark von Kanel's Avatar
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    Re: How to set focus when doing self-portrait alone

    well as you shoot with a canon i can see why you want the upgrade....

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    Re: How to set focus when doing self-portrait alone

    The problem I have found with a timer is that it seems to take forever. So I think that I must have made an error with the setting, as frequently happens, and go to check. That's right, I move just as the camera clicks.

    Using a cable release is another option, but the effectiveness of this method depends on the length of cable and having a suitable size lens to capture the required area.

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: How to set focus when doing self-portrait alone

    You can get a cable-less remote release for Canon DSLR cameras. The releases are model specific or more acurately camera series specific. The Rebel xxxD series can use an infrared release which is best used from the front of the camera. The 7D and 60D can also use this type of release...
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Canon-RC-6-R...item3a77d73994

    The xxD cameras (50D and earlier) can also use a remote wireless release. However this release is a two part system. The received plugs into the slot for a corded release and hangs down a bit so it can be easily triggered from front or back by the second part of the setup which is the trigger. There are any number of varieties of this type of release available. They are a bit more expensive but not so expensive that you must comtemplate selling your first born child...
    http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw...4345&_from=R40

    BTW: These two part releases also are available for other than the xxD cameras. Just make sure that the system you purchase is compatible with the model camera which you are using...

    Many Canon cameras have a choice between a two second and a ten second self timer. My 40D and my 7D both have the dual time self timer. The two second pause can be very handy when for one reason or another, ten seconds seems like an eternity...

    Of course, you can always purchase a corded trigger. These are available for virtually any Canon series camera, but, again are series specific. Using one depends if it is long enough for our needs and if you can hide it when doing a self portrait.... I would presonally opt for a cordless release over a corded release for almost any use. However, I have both!
    http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw...e&_sacat=64345
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 5th November 2012 at 08:30 PM.

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    Re: How to set focus when doing self-portrait alone

    To be trollish .. apologises If you have live view AND a swing around LCD coupled with being able to position the spot focusing area anywhere on the screen .... like my unmentioned camera ... it is a snip as you position your body with the point you want sharp over the target area and use the remote release to work the trigger, AF doing the hard part for you ... the camera has an especially small target area, smaller than any other I have seen ... about the first thing I did with my new camera with those features ... that was 14 months ago and have not needed to repeat the exercise so far
    My eye!
    How to set focus when doing self-portrait alone

    PS, for family group photos I have a 45ft extension lead for my cable release.
    For another use of the lead, shooting birds with camera remote on mini tripod with me in house I envisaged using my binoculars ... trouble the one time I did this I forgot the bino's and did it by guesswork and it wasn't that successful
    Last edited by jcuknz; 5th November 2012 at 08:48 PM.

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    Loose Canon's Avatar
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    Re: How to set focus when doing self-portrait alone

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Place an object in the position that your head is going to be. Focus on it. Replace object with head. Shoot!

    Use an aperture that's will give you a wide enough DoF to allow for any slight error in positioning.

    See avatar alongside this post.
    If I may add a step to this procedure (I use a light stand, maybe a white towel on it where my head/eyes will be)?

    Place an object in the position that your head is going to be. Focus on it. Turn your lens to manual focus so it the AF will not search after you have set focus and when you are trying to remotely trigger the shutter. Replace object with head. Shoot!

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    Re: How to set focus when doing self-portrait alone

    Interesting discussion

    I recently saw an amazing self taken shot of the poster's eye. He used a tripod and the swivel lcd for focusing and took a series of burst shots. That seems to work.

    That got me thinking about how one without a swivel lcd could get a similar shot.

    This should work I think - tripod, notebook, EOS utility, usb cable. Focus with the live view on the notebook, shoot in bursts. LR probably has this function too but not sure.

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    Re: How to set focus when doing self-portrait alone

    If you dont have a swivle lcd, or abilities(or too lazy) to set up live view via computer, i would get a light stand or something equilivent to it, mark on the floor where your feet is, step back place the stand with an object like a target on paper and place it directly at your face hieght, set up camera, and focus, than go back remove stand and stand on the markings, presto, you can also use servo modes for focusing as well

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    Re: How to set focus when doing self-portrait alone

    Buy an used mannequin and keep it handy, even just a bust would do. It will also help you test lighting setups.

    If you keep the aperture reasonably small enough focus will not be a problem. However, if you have the aperture wide open - with a sliver of depth of field in action - sharp focus might be a challenge.

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    Re: How to set focus when doing self-portrait alone

    Taken a long time ago so I guess I got the camera in focus and then positioned myself at the same distance. Note that Rollei didn't focus that close so I used the two halves of a Rapid Rectilinear lens taped to the CU len's I had for the Rollei.
    How to set focus when doing self-portrait alone

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    Re: How to set focus when doing self-portrait alone

    Hey all, I am sorry for a long silence! I fell quite sick for a long while and am checking all your replies now!
    Haven't got time to read them all now, but thanks in advance for now!

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    Re: How to set focus when doing self-portrait alone

    I have been trying with the self-timer, and with placing something (umbrella and such) at the distance I would be standing. I also used the manual focus on the "replacement" then hit the self-timer, and run to the position and get rid of the umbrella while posing...I've also tried with deeper DOF, which seems to work better, but in a low light situation or when I want bokeh this does not work very well..
    I do the self-portrait outdoor often, and unfortunately do not have a laptop I can bring it out..
    I use Nikon D90 and own only two lenses (35mm prime and 18-105mm zoom).
    I'm thinking of buying a remote control, but I heard that that still does not focus on where you exactly want.
    Any Nikon users, do you have any experiences?

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