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Focusing: The Eyes Have It

When you look at a person, probably the very first thing you notice is their eyes—it’s just natural to make eye contact with other people, and we even do this with pets and other animals. This is extremely important when creating photographs, because you want to be sure that your focus is on your subject’s eyes (Figure 4.8). Also keep in mind that if the person is positioned at an angle, it’s best to focus on the eye that is nearest the camera, since that’s where we naturally tend to look first (Figure 4.9).

In Chapter 1, “The 60D Top Ten List,” I discussed autofocus on the 60D. In my experience, the best option for portrait work is to pick one of the nine focus points and stay away from automatic selection. You can move the focus around within your viewfinder to find the eye, ensuring that you are focusing on the proper part of the image before taking your photo. Leaving the focusing decision up to the camera means you could end up with an in-focus nose and blurry eyes, or, even worse, it might try to focus on the background instead of the person.

Selecting and setting the AF Point

  1. Press the AF Point Selection button (A) and look in your viewfinder.
  2. Use the Multi-Controller to move the red focus point to the area you want to focus on in the viewfinder. To set it directly in the middle, press the Set button.
  3. You can also make these changes by using the Quick Control screen—just press the Q button and use the Multi-Controller to scroll to the AF point selection at the bottom. Then use either the Quick Control dial or the Main dial to select your AF point (B).

I typically set the focus-point location in the middle, find my subject’s eye, and press the Shutter button halfway to set focus. With my finger still holding the Shutter button halfway down, I recompose and take my photo. I find that the “focus and recompose” method is a much quicker way to photograph people. Speed is important because people tend to move around during the shooting process, and keeping the focus point in the middle simplifies my shooting.


A catchlight is that little sparkle that adds life to the eyes (Figure 4.10). When you are photographing a person with a light source in front of them, you will usually get a reflection of that light in the eye, be it your flash, the sun, or something else brightly reflecting in the eye. The light reflects off the surface of the eyes as bright highlights and serves to bring attention to the eyes. Larger catchlights from a reflector or studio softbox tend to be more attractive than tiny catchlights from a flash.

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