Shooting portraits in natural light typically means choosing a huge aperture to create creamy bokeh and pleasing subject separation, but keeping your image pin sharp in the right places can be tough. In this short video, photographer Julia Trotti shares her tips on how to nail focus.
Julia has created a style that is based on shooting subjects in daylight using fast primes at their widest apertures — usually f/1.2 or f/1.4. With such huge apertures, focal depth can be paper thin and trying to keep your subject's eyes perfectly sharp can be a real challenge. The first step is knowing how to set up your camera to give you the best results, something that can differ massively between models and manufacturers. Understanding your camera's autofocus modes is probably your first step, so if you're new to photography, be sure to dig into your manual and spend a bit of time Googling to find out what will work best for you. If you're not sure how to select single point autofocus and specify which autofocus point to use, do some research first.
To add to what Julia suggests, there's a trick that I picked up from Manny Ortiz: sometimes it's worth shooting a short burst of images to increase the odds of capturing pin sharp eyes. In this video, Manny heads out to shoot with the Mitakon 50mm f/0.95, a manual focus lens that is full of character and when used at its widest aperture doesn't give much room for error. Any shift in distance between Manny and his subject could mean that the eyes are no longer in focus, and grabbing a burst increases his odds in the event that his model moves slightly.
If you've any additional tips for grabbing tack sharp images, please leave them in the comments below.