On DSLR cameras there are two main types of focus…Auto Focus and Manual Focus. (Auto Focus can be broken down into several sub-types)

In this post, I’m going to show you how I photographed the below Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes…and, I’m going to specifically show you how I used Manual Focus to take these pictures picture..

(If you want a thorough explanation of the use of Auto Focus, you can check out this article DSLR Autofocus Modes Explained)



Details of shot:

  • Time: 8:55 a.m.
  • Shutter Speed: 1/125th of a second
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • ISO 500
  • Light Direction: Sidelight from the right.




Details of shot:

  • Time: 9:08 a.m.
  • Shutter Speed: 1/60th of a second
  • Aperture: f/3.2
  • ISO 640
  • Light Direction: Sidelight from the right.


Here’s a brief into my thought process as I was getting ready to take this shot…

I baked the dark chocolate cupcakes in dark brown cupcake cases. The colours encompassing the cupcakes were shades of brown…


So before even thinking about the setup, I thought about the colour theme I was going to use in this shot.

To check out different colour palettes and how colours fit together, check out Design Seeds.

I decided to use a combination of light blue/white/dark-brown. But before coming to a final decision, I put things out to see how everything fits together…







I felt like everything fit together beautifully.

As I was setting up, I thought, since this image has multiple elements, I want to see if I can apply the rule-of-thirds. Here’s the thing, I don’t always apply the rule-of-thirds. Most of the time I don’t even think about it. I just do what feels right. But when I feel something is off, I give it a shot…and sometimes it works beautifully. (in the images I posted above, in the first photo, I’m not using rule-of-thirds. I’ve actually centred the main cupcake. But I used it in the second image. I think they both look alright…what do you say?).

(Rule of Thirds: The idea behind the ‘rule of thirds’ is quite simple: you break the image into 9 equal parts with imaginary lines (horizontally and vertically).

When you’re framing the shot, you let these imaginary lines assist you…the ‘rule of thirds’ identifies the 4 points of intersection of those imaginary lines as the most important parts of an image. This is based on a study that shows that people’s eyes usually (normally) fall on one of these 4 intersection points when viewing an image. )

Keep in mind that this is not a ‘set-in-stone’ rule…you can break this rule and get outstanding results as well!

In one of the Live-View options on my camera, there’s an option that divides the frame into a grid (breaks the image into 16 equal parts). So I used that to help me out a bit..



Now to come to the focus. DSLR camera’s have advanced so much that auto-focus does an amazing job. But in those instances where you want to be more accurate with your focus point, you can follow the easy steps below that I use..

1. After mounting your camera on a tripod, and opening up the Live-View (the option that displays your frame on the LCD screen), turn on Manual Focus…you can do this from your lens or camera.



2. That little focus box you see below, the little green one….well move it with the multi-selector (arrow keys) to the point you want to focus on…

Alternatively, you can initially start off by autofocus, focus on that point, and then switch to manual focus and follow the steps below to further sharpen the focus point.



3. Now use your zoom-in button to zoom in as much as you can until you’re quite close and turn the focus ring on the lens to get a sharp focus. Now just take the picture and voila! All done and in Manual Focus too… :)




Hope this post was helpful…

If you have any questions, please email me at tuba@jarofvanilla.com