So, you want to photograph yourself but don’t have anyone to stand in to get your focus set? No problem, all you need is a tripod and a coin for sharp selfies, every time.
1. Set Up the Camera
First, you need to work out the composition, so put the camera on a tripod and set it a way back from where you need to be. Be sure to include a little extra space around the edges, as you can always crop in later. Make sure the camera is at head height.
2. Focus, Focus, Focus
Take the camera off the tripod, move to the spot you’re going to be standing in, and place the autofocus point over your tripod and focus up. If it’s too dark, just engage Live View and zoom in on the screen, then manually focus the lens until it’s sharp.
3. Place a Marker
Grab a coin (or anything really) and place it down between your legs, making sure it lines up with the center of the tripod. This is your mark; when you come back to pose for shots, you’ll stand over this to ensure you’re consistently sharp in the shot.
4. Put the Camera Back
Pop the camera on the tripod once again, and turn off autofocus, being careful not to nudge the focus ring and spoil the setup. If you do, repeat from step two. Now, you need to engage the self-timer mode on your camera and set a 10-second delay. If it takes you a while to get in position, then set this to 20 or 30 seconds instead.
5. Take a Test Shot
In Aperture priority mode (Av for Canon shooters), open the aperture to f/5.6, which on a 50mm lens should give you enough depth of field so your whole head is in focus. If the shutter speed is too slow (below 1/50 sec), then boost ISO to get a faster shutter speed and prevent motion blur when you’re posing.
6. Adjust Your Composition
Take a look at your test shot and move the camera until you’re in the frame with some space around you. This gives you the option of cropping in tighter later; you won’t be able to do this the other way around later (at least, not without a hefty dose of editing).
That’s it! Six simple steps to get pin-sharp selfies every time. Of course, I’m sure there are other ways to do it, but short of using a friend or a mannequin, I’ve found this to be the most reliable method of attaining good focus for selfies. What are some of your favorite techniques?
p.s. Extra points if you can guess what kind of coin I was using!