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Face Detection with Live View

Face detection in digital cameras has been around for a few years, but it’s still a relatively new concept in the world of the dSLR. Your D5500 has four different autofocus area modes for Live View: Wide-Area, Normal-Area, Subject-Tracking, and Face-Priority. Face-Priority mode is probably the slowest of the Live View focusing modes, so I use it mostly when I am working with a tripod or my subjects are going to remain fairly still. When you turn on Live View with Face-Priority focusing, the camera does an amazing thing: It zeroes in on any face appearing on the LCD and places a box around it (Figure 6.10). I’m not sure how it works; it just does.

Figure 6.10

Figure 6.10 In the Live View Face-Priority mode, the camera locks in on your subject’s face for easy focusing.

If there is more than one face in the frame, a box will appear over each of them, but the camera will use only one to focus. The box that has the small inside corners outlined is the one the camera is currently using for focus (this is usually the closest face to the camera).

Setting up and shooting with Live View and Face-Priority focusing

  1. Activate the Live View function by moving the Lv switch under the Mode dial on top of the camera.
  2. Press the i button to enter the information screen, and use the Multi-selector to navigate to the AF-Area mode icon.
  3. Press the OK button to enter the AF-Area mode selection screen.
  4. Use the Multi-selector to choose Face-Priority AF, and press the OK button.
  5. Press the shutter release button to exit the menu mode and get ready for shooting.
  6. Point your camera at a person and watch as the frame appears over the face in the LCD.
  7. Depress and hold the shutter release button halfway to focus on the face, and wait until you hear the confirmation chirp.
  8. Press the shutter button fully to take the photograph.

Live View can be used with any of the professional modes, or you can combine it with the Portrait scene mode.

Using Live View’s grid overlay

There is another benefit to using Live View: the grid overlay. This is a feature that actually places a grid over your image, dividing it into sectors, which can be of great benefit in properly composing your image for portraits (Figure 6.11). Check out Chapter 7 for full instructions on setting up and using this feature.

Figure 6.11

Figure 6.11 Using Live View’s grid overlay can help you compose your shots.

Using Fill Flash to Reduce Shadows

A common problem when taking pictures of people outside, especially during the midday hours, is that the overhead sun can create dark shadows under the eyes and chin. You could have your subject turn his or her face to the sun, but that is usually considered cruel and unusual punishment. So how can you have your subject’s back to the sun and still get a decent exposure of the face? Try turning on your flash to fill in the shadows Figure 6.12). This also works well when you are photographing someone wearing a ball cap. The bill of the hat tends to create heavy shadows over the eyes, and the fill flash will lighten up those areas while providing a really nice catch light in the eyes.

Figure 6.12

Figure 6.12 I used fill flash to lighten the faces of these kids, who were on a porch with the setting sun right behind them.

ISO 400 • 1/25 sec. • f/8 • 70mm lens

The key to using the flash as a fill is to not use it on full power. If you do, the camera will try to balance the flash with the available light, and you will get a flat and featureless face.

Setting up and shooting with fill flash

  1. Press the pop-up flash button to raise your pop-up flash into the ready position.
  2. Press the i button to activate the cursor in the information screen.
  3. Use the Multi-selector to navigate to the Flash Compensation icon, and press the OK button (A).

  4. Select a Flash Compensation setting of –0.3, and press OK (B).

  5. Take a photograph and check your playback LCD to see if it looks good. If not, try reducing power in one-third stop increments.

One problem that can quickly surface when using the on-camera flash is red-eye. Not to worry, though—we will talk about that in Chapter 8.

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