Camera Settings / Pre-focusing and Framing

Having done the Photo Brunch this past weekend, I thought today would be the perfect time to write another post on camera settings. This one’s simple, but powerful.

Laura, who came along to the Photo Brunch, actually asked me about composing an image. The most important thing to keep in mind is what you want to be in focus. What do you want to draw attention to? What was it that initially made you want to take a photo?

Once you know what your point of interest is, you will realise that when you look through your camera to focus on this specific subject, there are different auto focus points (AF points).
You can select either all of your AF points to be active, or you can just pick one. Depending on which option you go for, there are different ways to frame your image and to keep your subject in focus.
Let’s say you choose the central focus point to start with:

1. So, your camera’s focus point is automatically in the middle of the frame. But you want your subject to be left-aligned and still in focus? The way to go about this is by pushing your shutter release down half way, pre-focusing on your subject (which will mean the subject is still in the centre of your frame at this moment). Then continue to hold down your shutter release half way, and reframe. So, while you’re holding your shutter release down half way (focused on your subject), you move your camera to the side and compose your image in whatever way you like. Once you’ve got the frame you like, go ahead and press the shutter all the way down to capture the image. Your camera will remember the point of focus, it will be sharp, but not in the centre of the frame.

2. Instead of having your camera’s focus point in the middle of the frame, you can set it to any other off-centre focus point, e.g. the one on the left or right. This will allow you for example to take a vertical image of a person, making it easier for you to focus on their eyes. Or when taking a horizontal image, it will allow you to focus on a subject to the left or right of the centre.
Still, make sure to only press your shutter release down half way first, in order to give the camera enough time to actually focus.

3. On some cameras, you’ll be able to set your auto focus to a separate button than the shutter release one. This can make it easier for you when taking a photo, as you can just push down the shutter release all the way straight away, not having to worry about pre-focusing. Instead you press the other button that you set the auto focus to in order to focus. If you and your subject don’t move, you can even just pre-focus once, and your camera will remember the focus point until you re-focus again.

While this post is mainly about the technical aspects of focusing, there are a few tips to composing an image and enhancing the subject which you want to be in focus. I’ll talk about this soon in another post, so stay tuned for that.

If you have any questions regarding AF points, let me know!


  1. This is great advice! Although I find it so hard to keep my finger steady to do that, I need to work on it x

    1. Thanks, Emma. I'm sure you'll get better at it - just remembering will help, I'm sure. x