How to Use Back Button Focus

Have you ever wanted to set the exposure (meter) for one area of the photo and focus on another area? The solution is to use back button focusing. A common application perfect for back button focusing is creating silhouette photos. If you use just the shutter button to focus on and meter for the subject in your scene at the same time, the camera will increase the exposure on the subject so it can be clearly seen. This results in two things —  subjects that are not in shadow and a blown out sky. When using back button focus, each of these functions (focus and exposure) are determined separately. Once you’ve set a button on the back of your camera to act for focus, the shutter release is used only for metering.

Step by Step: Assess your scene, point your camera at the area you want to meter for. In the case of a silhouette, point it at the most vibrant part of the sky. Set your exposure by holding the shutter release halfway and adjusting the settings accordingly until your meter indicates a proper exposure. Continue to hold the shutter halfway down. Compose your image, focusing on your subject using the back button. Press the shutter release completely to take the photo.

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