Skill : for gamblers only
Hit rate : 20%
Picture style : Out of focus mainly …
I always liked the term Hail Mary pass commonly used in American Football. It refers to a long forward pass as an attempt to win the game as time expires. Success rate is less than 5%, but at least the losing team gives it a try. Same happens in street photography when a great potential scene suddenly unfolds quickly in front of you. Unluckily, your focus ring will often be in the wrong position. Therefore, in a desperate attempt to get the shot, rotate the focus ring blindly and … pray for the best. With time and practice, you’ll get a feel of which direction to turn the focus ring to and get some success now and then. To help in that matter, I do recommend lenses with a lever since it will give you a feel of where you focus is and where you are repositioning it to.
The shot below was taken on Place Clichy in front of a movie theater. I was looking at the « Be Bad » movie poster and had focused on it in search of a shot. Suddenly two girls appeared on my right. I had no time to pre-set my focus so went for my Hail Mary focus technique. I just pulled blindly on the lever with the intend to bring the focus distance to 1 meter. And obviously in this instance, I failed. Indeed the girls were not in focus as the ring actually ended up on 1.2 meters. I still like the shot, but it does illustrate the very low hit rate of such a technique. (click on picture to enlarge)
This concludes this series on manual focus of wide open lenses. In the coming weeks, I will follow up with a new series on exposure. Thanks for reading.
Leica M8 with 35mm Summicron IV at F2, 1/1000, ISO160