Accepting auto-focus in my photography

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I am not a professional photographer. I am an enthusiastic hobbyist when it comes to photography. I try my best to learn how a camera works and how to adjust manual settings to get the kind of photos I am looking to take. I do this because I find the photographic process very interesting and like deducing what I can do with my camera.

But, I also wear glasses because I don’t have great eyesight. I’m not totally blind without my glasses, but I definitely need them to function in the outside world. At home I can get away without glasses because I know our apartment well enough to feel comfortable without glasses although I don’t do it for long. I would never entertain the thought of leaving our apartment without my glasses on. That would be insanity!

With this I have a hard time getting photos focused how I want them. Since I can’t take my glasses off I have to wear them as I look through the viewfinder. I’m not able to get the viewfinder to sit cleanly against my glasses and I see how the lens of my glasses is at an angle to the viewfinder.  From my experience this seems to cause a distortion that tricks me into thinking things are in focus that actually aren’t and I find that this gets me inaccurate results. I tend to see the image in focus as I like and snap the shot. On the smaller rear display of my DSLR the image looks good for the few seconds it previews. Afterwards I will transfer the images to my computer and see something very different. Once I have the picture up larger on my computer I see that what is directly behind the point I was focusing on is actually in focus and my intended focal point is just slightly out of focus. Mostly, it is close enough that nobody will say anything, likely because it is my friends or family seeing my pictures and they just are being nice to not ask me if it is meant to be out of focus. It is even more frustrating when working with my film cameras. Shooting film is an expensive process and to have shots not come out right on a roll is really disheartening. It’s a big bummer and makes me feel like a failure. That is part of why I shoot mostly digital photos. There is a safety in being able to snap multiple shots of something and being to delete it if it doesn’t turn out as I want.

Because of my focus woes awhile ago I turned on the auto-focus on my lens. I still shoot entirely manual settings otherwise, but I let the camera do the work for me in regards to focusing. I have played around with the auto-focus settings and am starting to get the hang of its behavior. By adjusting zoom level and shifting my camera angle I have been able to get it to focus on different parts of the image. But, in the end the camera does it for me and I am honestly happier for it. I am getting much better results, the kind that I am actually looking for and I am much happier for it as a hobbyist. I have come to accept and enjoy using auto-focus. Part of me felt like it was cheating, that as a photographer I should be making adjustments to every aspect of my photos 100% manually, otherwise it is not really my photo. Thinking about this more I see it is silly and bullshit to put that level of expectation on myself for something that is meant to be a fun pastime. Photography is something I love doing and I find it very fun, but I’m not trying to be a professional. I just want to take pictures and experiment. That’s the fun and the fun is what matters.

The photo above was taken using auto-focus and I think it looks pretty cool. What do you think? Do you use auto-focus when you shoot? Are you a photographer that wears glasses and have awesome tricks for me to try so that I can focus as I want?

 

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