How To Focus in the Dark is one of the most common questions that I get and the reality is that you can’t focus in the dark. Your camera needs to be able to see some contrast or definition in the scene to be able to focus. You will need to have some sort of light source to be able to either illuminate your scene, your subject you are going to light paint or the place in the scene that you are going to be creating your light painting.
In this video tutorial I show you two different techniques for getting sharp focus in your Light Painting Photography, both techniques require a light source. The first focusing technique is using a flashlight to illuminate the scene and then pulling focus from there. For the second focusing technique you will place your light source next to the subject or where you intend to stand then then pull focus on that illuminated subject or area.
UPDATES: There are two things that I have learned since posting this video that can make your focus even better. The first is that when you shoot on a tripod you should turn off your image stabilization, this is something I have never done but apparently if you leave the image stabilization on your camera “can” interpret your movement as camera movement and can slightly change the focus. The other thing that I have learned from the community is there is a big difference between a parfocal lens and a varifocal lens. I have used these same two focusing techniques for at least 20 years with every camera and lens set up that I have had and never had any trouble getting sharp focus, well sharp enough for me anyway. However after I posted this video I received a comment from @Scar saying the zoom technique only works with a parfocal lens, so I did some research and have found that indeed a varifocal lens changes the focus at different zoom lengths. Again I have used the zoom technique since it was taught to me in film school 20+ years ago and never had any trouble getting sharp enough focus so I don’t know if the focus change is something that I have never noticed when I am creating my Light Painting Photography because I am shooting in the dark and moving so maybe my expectation of focus might be something different from say someone shooting sports. Point being to get even sharper focus If you are using a varifocal lens you want to frame your shot how you intend to shoot it (NOT ZOOM ALL THE WAY IN) then use the digital zoom focus assist, pull focus turn off the focus assist then shoot. I just wanted to share those two updates and say thank you the community for sharing your knowledge with me. I think that its great I can post a tutorial and then I end up learning from the community, I appreciate you guys. Thank you.