Although I've worked with almost all of the Luminaries, Dan Cox was in Alaska during our last Luminary meeting and couldn't be there with us. He's one of the newest members of this remarkable team. Nevertheless, he sent me the link to an outstanding post he's been writing, The LUMIX Diaries. As I read through what he's been writing about, I found myself living vicariously through his images and the daily descriptions of his trip.
This is just an excerpt from one day, but it's got some great suggestions to help so many of us raise the bar on our images. Dan's complete series is just a click away and well worth taking the time to read!
Dan is definitely somebody who should be on your radar. Check out his website at NaturalExposures.com. It's your link to everything he's working on, workshops, projects and his team.
Bubble net feeding is a cooperative effort between as many as 12-18 whales where they corral a ball of herring by circling them and blowing bubbles to produce a visual barrier that the herring won’t penetrate. The humpbacks start deep, spiraling upwards in unison, establishing a 40 foot circle, exhaling in large bursts creating their ring of bubbles that confuse the herring. At the end of the spiral, just below the ocean’s surface, their mouths open wide as they thrust themselves up, breaching the water’s surfaces, swallowing as many confused and bewildered herring as they can gulp down. All of this happens at the same time so the show is hard to believe, a dozen or more whales coming to the surface in mass, bellowing, honking, and blowing air through their pipes that sound like fog horns. It is impressive to say the least. This is the show we were looking for but unfortunately during our first week it never happened.
As I write this I realize I should explain the Back Button AF on the GH4. Quite simply, the idea is to take the AF activation off the front shutter button and move it to the button on the back of the GH4 labeled AF/AE Lock. This is generally a superior way to focus the camera and it’s an option on all Nikon and most Canons. Canon invented the idea, Nikon perfected it, and now we have it in the Lumix system as well. Just another small but important detail that proves the GH4 is target towards serious photographers.
How this now works is hard to explain but I’m going to give it a shot. The idea behind this customization is to remove AF from the same button you fire the camera with. This allows for better composition, allowing you to focus on a specific part of the image, by placing the AF sensor where you want critical focus. It’s also generally best to use a single AF sensor point with this procedure.
Here are the exact steps in a fast moving situation. First, select the AF sensor you want to use in your camera’s viewfinder. Next, point that AF sensor at your subject and push the AF/AE Lock button to initiate focus. When the focus locks on, release the AF/AE Lock button. Now, recompose the image by moving the the camera to place your subject in whatever part of the frame you choose. Finally, press the shutter release button to take the picture.
Back Button AF is often much faster than moving the AF sensor around to the exact point where you want critical focus, at least it was with my Nikons. The GH4 is a bit of a different story since it has the ability to move the AF sensor anywhere in the frame. The Touch LCD allows you to move the AF spot with the camera to your eye by touching your thumb to the back LCD and moving the AF point. Even so, I still use the Back Button AF nearly 100% of the time. It’s by far the most efficient way to focus a camera if your concerned about composition. It’s often much quicker than the commonly known procedure of holding the front shutter button half way down to lock AF, recomposing and shooting.