So a while ago I wrote a guide to using the Manual setting on your camera to take better photos. Whilst the guide is fairly cohesive, I left a bit out that wasn't essential, as I wanted to keep it as simple as possible.
There is another tip that I wanted to share, though, that some people may not know about or find confusing, which has hugely changed the way I use my DLSR. You might not necessarily need a DSLR to have this function, but it is one that will be present on all DSLR cameras. Higher end bridge cameras and point-and-shoots may have this feature, but I don't use them so I'm not an authority.
It's a tip that will be most helpful to people already shooting in Manual, so if you're not that far yet it may be worth checking out my manual photography guide - it's actually super easy and makes an enormous difference to how your photos look.
Focus Points are a function on your camera (usually a button that looks like this on a Canon and this on a Nikon - on my Canon, my thumb is resting on it in the image above!) that allows you to select a general area of the picture for your camera to focus on. This really comes into play when taking product shots and outfit photos for your blog, and is most noticeable in photos with a low depth of field (blurred-out backgrounds & a crisp foreground. My guide has more info on how to get this effect.) but works and is useful for every kind of shot.
Ordinarily, on 'auto' settings, your camera would generally focus on one of the things closest to it. You might find if you're taking a photo of a line of things, it will focus on the thing at the front of the line, which could be at the far end of the photo, and doesn't really draw the eye in. Here's an example of a photo where I just let the camera pick where to focus.
As you can see, the part in focus is off to the right and doesn't really make for a stunning photo. It might've been better had I told the camera to focus in the middle.
The Focus Points button gives you a lot more freedom with what you want people to look at. For instance, you can select the general area of where the eyes would be for portraits, select the correct glass/dish in a food shot or the brush or pan or whatever in a make-up shot.
Here's a shot from a food post I did where I wanted the tofu dish to be the main focus. I simply selected the focus point in the top left corner, so that that part would be crisp, and the others would be blurred.
Here's the corresponding Focus point setting:
I use a Canon, and for me, the process of doing this is simply clicking the focus points button which displays the above screen. I use the arrow keys to highlight the point, which corresponds to the same area of your photo (so the far left point tells your camera to focus on things to the far left, etc), and then simply look in the viewfinder and shoot.
I'm not an experienced user of any other brand of camera, so you'd have to check out your manual for info on how to do this on other brands of camera, but the process is likely to be mostly the same.
If I ever want to return to the automatic setting, I simply click the 'ok' button on my camera whilst the 'focus point' screen is displayed.
So as you can imagine, this function is super useful for blog photos, especially with low aperture 'blurry background' pictures. Let me know if you found this useful, meanwhile check out my Photography category.