Predictive Focusing

'Predictive focusing' is a label I have given to a technique that assists in learning to see close-up and macro subjects in a different way. It's fun to try and makes a change. This is how it works:

• Rather than looking for subjects and then focusing the camera lens on that subject, predictive focusing is when you preset your macro lens to a certain focus ratio — let's say, for example, a ratio of 1:2 (half life-size).

• Switch off the auto focus however is best for your housing and camera.

• Next, set the flashgun(s) to a position suitable for a subject of this size (e.g. above the camera pointing straight out).

• Now use the viewfinder in the same way you would a magnifying glass to find a small object. Let your eye, via the viewfinder, wander around a subject until you find something that visually attracts you to it. It may be an abstract, or a certain colour. It could be the interplay between two areas of colour contrast, a particular texture or a cluster of shapes. If you are lucky, it may be a small crab or a shrimp!

• If it helps, attach a small spotting torch to the housing and position it to illuminate the frame.

This is another fun way of 'seeing' subjects and extending your macro techniques. Instead of finding the subject first, you use this magnification to explore and discover photo opportunities in your viewfinder which otherwise may have gone unnoticed.

fig. 8.6 An example of predictive focusing where I was able to find a subject in my viewfinder but did not notice it with my own eyes. Nikon D200, Nikon 60 mm, f22 at 1/250th sec, ISO 100, one Inon flashgun the other turned to 'off'.

fig. 8.7 I was scouring this fan coral via my Subal viewfinder for anything of interest when I pressed the shutter by mistake. I quite liked this arrangement of lines and angles so I kept it but it was just lucky. Nikon D300, 60 mm macro lens, f16 at 320th sec, ISO 200, one flashgun above the camera, the other turned off.

fig. 8.7 I was scouring this fan coral via my Subal viewfinder for anything of interest when I pressed the shutter by mistake. I quite liked this arrangement of lines and angles so I kept it but it was just lucky. Nikon D300, 60 mm macro lens, f16 at 320th sec, ISO 200, one flashgun above the camera, the other turned off.

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