Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The one that got away...

Alternately titled: A case for Manual Focus

Living in the country, we get a lot of "visitors" to our home. We have a small family of deer that drop by regularly. There are songbirds and butterflies, despite the incredible number of cats between ourselves and our neighbours. You know spring is here when you hear the spring peepers singing (frogs) and fall and spring are heralded by the ducks and geese flocking overhead. In the summer I love to fall asleep listening to the loons on the lake and there's a flock of Canada geese that nest just down the road and are one of the reasons for purchasing a lens with telephoto abilities--those goslings are adorable but their parents are crazy protective!

Then there are the occasional visitors, the ones that you don't see all that often. There is a nesting pair of bald eagles on the lake that occasionally come and rest in the trees outside our house. We've never seen them here by the lakes, but a couple of kilometres away at the farms coyote sightings are not uncommon and the farmers are often serenaded. We've seen black bear and moose a couple of times (not together of course). On one very memorable occasion we saw what we think was a bobcat. Those are the sightings that you miss if you don't have the camera on and ready, the ones that make us call up family and friends to make them play the "guess what we just saw" game.

And they rarely believe us. Skeptics, one and all.

So when I looked out the window the other day and saw something I hadn't seen at our place before, I knew I needed photographic proof of its visit. I grabbed the camera and flipped to auto so I could get a snapshot or two before it disappeared.

Big mistake.

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Oh auto mode, how you failed me. I know it's hard to focus through the screen on the fleet-footed black animal in the white snow, but come ON! Can't you do better than that?

Unfortunately it was gone before I could do anything about my settings or my lens. I've been frustrated quite a bit lately by the camera's focus points differing from MY focus points, and this was the last straw. I flipped the switch. My lenses are ALL now set on MF, and I'm having a blast.

So, two questions:

1. Do you shoot on MF or AF (and why?)

2. Any guesses as to what our visitor was?


  1. MF still scares me! I haven't taken the chance yet... but I guess I should at least try it! I'm always scared that I'll 'miss' that one great shot because of my lack of knowledge!

  2. I almost always shoot MF now. I find that I get so many more great shots this way because of these deliberate choices. I've brought so much DOF and artistry into the image that auto mode can't do. What on earth were you trying to capture?