Lesson 8: Separating Focus from Exposure

In yesterday’s lesson, we downloaded the app Camera Awesome.  If you missed yesterday’s lesson, you might want to download it now.  It’s a free app available from the Apple App Store.

One of the pains of using the default camera app that comes with the iPhone is that you can only pick one spot on your screen to set both the exposure and the focus.  The Camera Awesome app is one of several apps that allows you to pick one spot to set the focus and another spot to set the exposure.

Why is this awesome?  There are many times when the thing you want to be in focus is  darker or lighter than the overall scene and you have to choose between what you want in focus and how you want the image exposed (see lesson 5).  With Camera Awesome, you can focus in one spot and adjust the exposure in another spot so you get a better exposure and still get the focusing point you want.

For example, when shooting landscape scenes like the one in the example below (click to enlarge), with the default camera app, if I choose the rock for the focus point, the sky turns white.  If I choose the sky to get a better exposure, the rock is not longer sharp.  I don’t want a blurry foreground and I don’t want a white sky.

Separate Focus and Exposure.001

Using the Camera Awesome app, I can touch the screen with one finger and, while keeping that finger still, tap the screen with a second finger to get a green square for focusing and a blue circle for setting exposure. I can move each around with a fingertip to find the best focus point and best exposure point separately.

Separate Focus and Exposure.002

By separating the two functions, I have more choices about how the photo will look.

Separate Focus and Exposure.003

One note I didn’t mention in yesterday’s lesson:  With the Camera Awesome app, the photo is stored inside the app until you tell it to save it to your Camera Roll.  It’s best to choose the images you want to keep and save them to your Camera Roll for future use as soon as you’re done shooting.  That way you won’t end up with hundreds of photos in the app.

Here’s one last example of when separating focus and exposure are important.  I focused on my dog is in the foreground, but found an exposure that keeps details visible in both the dark spot on his face and the sky.


Your Assignment:  Choose a scene that has some brighter and darker areas where you want to focus on something in the foreground.  Using the default camera app that comes with the iPhone, choose the focus point and take a picture.

Next, open up the Camera Awesome app and practice touching with one finger and tapping with a second finger to get the separated exposure and focus settings to appear.

Focus on the same point you focused on using the default app.  Now slide the exposure around until you get the best exposure for your image.  Take a picture.  Save it to your Camera Roll.  Compare the two images.  Which one do you like better?

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