I'm trying to figure out the best technique to use for photographing people in motion. I would love to do weddings one day - but for now I’m concentrating on just getting my focus down (with a very wide aperture) for one person, say while they're moving — specifically, how do I get perfect focus on someone spinning slowly and still get most of them in focus? When I try this, it’s not quite sharp.

(I have a Nikon D3300 and 50mm and 35mm lenses.)

  • 3
    Please add some sample photos, along with shutter speed, aperture and ISO for each - it's very difficult to diagnose what's wrong from just a description. – Philip Kendall Sep 4 '18 at 14:55
  • goo.gl/images/krkcPU – Lauren Sep 4 '18 at 15:14
  • It wouldn’t let me attach image so I have to do it this way – Lauren Sep 4 '18 at 15:14
  • 6
    Sorry, my request wasn't clear: please add some of your photos. – Philip Kendall Sep 4 '18 at 15:24
  • 1
    I don't think it's particularly unclear — but some examples of what you've tried would help! – mattdm Sep 5 '18 at 14:36

I would try it with continuous AF (AF-C), on a single focus point. Then I would shoot at a very high frame rate, as much as possible.

It is very difficult to get sharp images under these circumstances, so the more you shoot, the more chance you will get the perfect one. Aim your focus point on the head/face, or eyes if you can as good as possible, and shoot many pictures by keeping the shutter pressed.

3D tracking does not seem a good option to me because it is not made for this situation. It is made for the situation where you want the background to stay the same, but your subject is moving. Changing the focus point manually is too slow, so there is a mode to do that for you. Here you don't need that, because the face (or head) seems to stay in the same place, and you can follow it with the camera if it does not. 3D tracking tends to focus on the object closest to the camera, so it would probably be fooled be the hair and focus on that in stead of the face.


You don't say if you have you tried using the 3D Tracking option. If you haven't, this should help you with the settings


To capture people dancing and spinning:

  1. Ask the DJ to play a long song.

  2. Narrow the DOF to include the entire subject by stopping down the aperture a bit.

  3. Set the camera to continuous autofocus. (May also pre-focus when subject positions are predictable.)

  4. Stabilize the camera.

  5. Half-press the shutter, and follow the subject.

  6. Release the shutter when you see your intended composition approaching.

  7. Repeat the last two steps until the end of the song.

Other suggestions:

  • Be mindful of what you are doing. You will not improve with spray and pray.

  • Don't forget to pay attention to framing and composition.

  • Experiment with longer shutter speeds to allow some motion blur. Compensate with ISO to keep aperture constant.

  • Follow subject movement by moving the camera (panning), changing focus, or zooming.

  • Anticipate when movement will slow or stop, such as when changing direction. At these moments, the face and body can appear still, but the skirt still in motion.

  • Use faster shutter speeds to freeze movement.

  • Use flash in low light.

See also:

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