FREE Roadmap to Create Your Next Favourite Photo
The 15-step process is involves four phases:
> Photographic intention
> Storytelling, narrative and composition
> Photo capture techniques
> Mobile photo editing to enhance the narrative
Why use manual focus on a smartphone?
Autofocus can be fantastic in most circumstances. The smartphone is smart! It can be problematic when scene elements of similar visual weight are at differing distances from the camera lens. The camera can struggle and choose a focal distance between the objects in the scene.
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Adobe Lightroom mobile camera manual focus Inside the camera feature, the manual focus option is available within the Pro shooting mode. Locate the icon [+] that looks like a + symbol inside brackets. By default underneath the icon will be labelled Auto.
To activate manual focus tap on that icon to discover a slider. Swipe the slider off Auto to manually adjust the focus area from nearest to the lens (0%) to further distance away from the lens (100%).
My favourite feature of manual focus is the green overlay that appears on the focused area of the image. This is referred to as focus peaking. Other apps will allow you to change the colour of the overlay. This is particularly helpful if you are trying to determine focus on a green leaf that matches the same colour as the Adobe Lightroom green overlay!
The Blurry to Tack-Sharp Photos course is the capture phase of the Smartphone Photography Transformation Program - >> learn more
When do I use manual focus?
The only time I manually focus the smartphone is using a close-up macro lens attachment and am holding the lens less than 7cm from the subject. The reason is the focus area is very narrow.
The green overlay on your image preview communicates in real-time where the focus distance. I find that setting the manual focus and green overlay allows me to rock back and forth and move the camera to achieve the focus.
Advanced manual focus technique using Adobe Lightroom mobile app
The green overlay can be difficult to see in bright outdoor conditions on a little smartphone screen. The subject matter may be green, also making it difficult to see the manual focus overlay. I discovered an awesome tip by accident. You can change the live filter to black and white to create a strong contrast against the green. After capture, you can change the filter back to normal again!
How to use manual focus on a moving subject?
Hand holding the smartphone very close to moving subjects, like bees can be very frustrating and challenging. As you can see in the above illustration, the movement of the camera can easily shift which part of the scene at close range is in focus. Fortunately, as discovered in lesson 2.4 Manual focus using Adobe Lightroom app, you have a green overlay on your image preview communicating in real-time where the camera is in focus.
Flowers moving in the wind - Holding a flower stem in one hand while you take the photo in the other hand can steady the flower. Depending on the lighting and your camera manual settings, the moving flowers can become a contrasting blurred background.
Capturing walking insects - My big tip with this one is to minimise the movement options for the insect. Recently, I captured some bull ants on a floating piece of moss inside a bowl. This created a moat around the moss preventing the bull ants from running the area. I started with the smartphone on a little tripod, however, ended up hand holding the camera and used the green manual focus overlay to tell me if I had to move fractionally closer or further away.
Capturing flying insects - Who doesn't love a great, detailed bee image? I have two different techniques for you to try here to ensure the perfect sharpness.
1. Turn on the manual focus mode inside Adobe Lightroom camera. Set the focus to 0%. This activates the green focus overlay. Have your smartphone attached to a selfie stick (or handhold if you are brave) and physically move the smartphone back and forth in a rocking motion as you capture lots of photos. They are free. It is not like when I started photography and every capture cost money to process. You will find a couple in the many that you have absolutely nailed the focus. It may take quite a lot. Be patient and have fun.
2. The other option is to set up your smartphone on a tripod next to where the flying insect consistently lands and capture multiple images as they move about. This may require a remote Bluetooth shutter or earphones attached to some of the older smartphones.
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