I would like to shoot small dogs at a park. I would like to hold the camera at about knee level without looking through the viewfinder and without live view. I point the camera in the general direction of the dogs when they are relatively still. If possible I would like to blur the background so am guessing I would like to use aperture prioeity at about F3.5. I am using an 1.8 lens. What is the best way to set the exposure, and focusing modes to get good results?
Mon 15-Oct-12 11:21 AM | edited Mon 15-Oct-12 12:13 PM by J_Harris
Providing you are physically able to do so, wouldn't it be easier and more accurate to just assume a prone position using your elbows for yourself and camera support. You can then use either the viewfinder or live view for proper framing, focus, etc. It might even be a good conversation starter when dog owners see how serious you are at taking pictures of their pets .
The only caveats would be to wear "casual" clothing, and look carefully for doggy residue before laying down .
Edited to add: You haven't filled in your "equipment profile" yet, but if you have a tripod with a head adjusted to a sitting height that would give you a good (low) perspective and be better than both the options above. Holding your camera at knee-level as you described and expecting good results doesn't sound like you would have many "keepers".
You could, as Jerry suggested, get down-n-dirty. You can carry a small section of painter's tarp to avoid the dirty bit. It's always best to use your eyes when taking a picture.
If you're unable assume the prone position, the next suggestion would be to get long glass, and stand quite a bit away. This minimizes the angle of perspective, and can yield nice results. Maybe in this situation you could get down on one knee and shoot, and get good results.
If you're committed to shooting blindly, I'd start by practicing doing so, and I'd mount a speedlite, AF-S mode, assisted focus, and shoot in the evening so that you can see the assistance light from the flash hitting your target. Observe the angle of the camera to the target, how wide you have to go, yada yada. The eliminate the speedlite, and practice some more. Ultimately, I'd try AF-C 9 point, and see how that does.
>I would like to >hold the camera at about knee level without looking through >the viewfinder and without live view.
I have to ask: why not LiveView? I find that LiveView at a distance and severe angle is sometimes still good enough to show me an outline of my subject. I only see a rough outline at this angle but it confirms I'm on subject.
>If possible I would like to blur the background
That makes it difficult as a blurred background means shallow DOF which then means accurate focus is needed. Otherwise, you could do like "street shooters" do. They set their camera to something like f16 and manual focus to something like 15 or 20 feet.
Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I wanted to try prefocussing manually but did some depth of field (DOF) calculations and have come to the conclusion that the DOF will be too small to accurately focus. I am going to try live view and will upload some results.
> What is the best way to set the exposure, and focusing modes to get good results?
One thing not touched upon so far is that if you are using one of the auto or semi-auto modes without having your eye to the viewfinder, be sure and cover it to prevent stray light from entering the eyepiece and throwing off the exposure.
Why don't you set the focus priority to focus then select one focus point in the center. Hold the shutter button down and wait for a dog to walk by. When dog is in focus, camera takes a picture. Then you are sure dog is in focus and in center of the frame.