EOS tutorial

This month we’re exploring new ways to capture authentic emotions. The aim is to help you enhance your images and form deeper connections with your viewers.

Human emotions don’t follow any set rules – they’re spontaneous and based on what someone is feeling - so having your camera close to hand is one of the first rules of capturing them. Unplanned shots can give you great results. Try shooting when your subject’s not expecting it – or press the shutter just after they think you’ve taken a shot. They’ll look far more natural and relaxed.

Whether you’re shooting to share your images or simply for yourself, our tutorials will help you capture moods and feelings more effectively.

Tips on capturing emotions


This month we’re exploring how your photography can capture and convey emotion. Expressing your own feelings or capturing those of your subject or scene can help an ordinary photo to become a unique and powerful image.


Tip: If you are trying to capture human emotion, try focusing on the eyes of your subject. They’re an excellent indicator of how somebody is feeling.

  • The basics – being prepared
  • Portrait mode
  • Capturing atmosphere
  • Single point focus and wide shots
  • Using advanced effects


EOS tutorial - Canon
Vinoth Chandar - Just Sit Back and Relax!
Usage Rights: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/


Get set up and be prepared

Emotion is often a fleeting thing so the key to capturing it is being well prepared. Before you start taking photos, it’s a good idea to get familiar with your camera and to ensure it’s set up to respond when you need it to. 


Did you know? Professional photojournalists spend years honing their skills so that they can be ready for the moment that the emotions of a situation are at their peak. 


Use Continuous shooting mode

Try setting your camera to Continuous shooting mode to allow several pictures to be taken in succession. This is a great way to capture your subject off-guard and will give you more of a chance to capture natural emotion. It’s particularly useful if your subject quickly changes from bewilderment to laughter. You may not get the best pictures first time but you can select and edit from the numerous shots you capture. If possible it’s also worth setting your focus to continuously track your subjects. This will help to keep the emotion in front of you in your frame.

Make sure you have a large capacity memory card. Shooting JPEG images (rather than RAW format) will increase the number of frames you can take in a single burst.


Use a wide-angle lens

Shooting with a wide-angle lens can help with framing your image and using one means you’ll be close to your subject, meaning you capture their facial expressions easily. Wide-angle lenses naturally capture the context of the scene and give further visual clues to your viewer about the cause of the emotions pictured - for example, the pleasure on the face of somebody watching a band at a music festival or the determination on the face of a climber. 


Portrait mode

The Portrait mode is found on many EOS cameras’ mode dial. It’s the one with an icon like a human head.

Use Portrait mode to:

  • Configure the camera to shoot a continuous sequence of frames when the shutter is pressed so you can capture your subject’s natural emotions. 
  • Tell the camera to select wider apertures that will draw attention to the subject, and minimize the disturbance of a cluttered background, focusing your viewers’ attention on the emotion in the frame. 

Portrait mode is often used with longer lenses, but using a wide-angle lens or zooming to the widest setting on your kit lens will combine with a wide aperture for pictures where the key subject is the most important element in the frame. 


Capturing atmosphere using lens flare

Shooting without a lens hood on the lens and putting the sun in the edge of the frame can create atmospheric lens flare in your photos.

The unpredictable nature of lens flare often adds a sense of freedom to images as well as softening the image to create a happy, dreamy feel. It’s great for expressing the feeling of a landscape such as an empty beach or a beautiful field of spring flowers. 


Tip: Try taking your EOS out on a sunny day and experimenting with your position in relation to the sun. 


Lens flaring:
EOS tutorial - Canon
Geraint Rowland - Low Tide, Boat and Flare, Southend
Usage Rights: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/


Single point focus

Use the Creative modes, Program, Aperture priority and Shutter priority to restrict the AF system to a single point. The single point needn’t be at the centre of your frame. In fact, other spots are often ideal for more pleasing compositions.

If your EOS DSLR has multiple AF point groupings then choose one with up to five AF points in a group. This will ensure that you can concentrate on the subject and not be so concerned with the exact placement of the AF point on the subject. 


Go wide

A moderate wide-angle lens, like the Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM for APS-C cameras is small and light and gets more of the scene into one image. For full frame cameras the best lens is an EF 35mm f/2 IS USM. This kind of lens simplifies shooting because you need to move with your subjects and move your feet to change the composition. This connects you better with your subject or the scene you’re shooting, or can connect the two. 


Choose a fast aperture lens

Emotion happens spontaneously, so you need to be able to capture it in low light without a flash whenever it happens. This is true whether you’re photographing people or want to capture the fleeting feel of a landscape as the light changes at twilight. Here’s how to do it:

  • A simple 50mm lens with a fast f/1.8 or f/1.4 aperture used wide open will let in plenty of light. 
  • Use Aperture priority and choose a wide aperture to draw the viewer’s eye right in to the key point of the picture. 
  • Focus is more critical with these lenses, so be sure to know how to quickly move the AF point around the viewfinder. 

Did you know? Wider aperture lenses have larger front elements that often make them more liable to the softening and streaks of light that comes with lens flare. 


Experiment with visual effects

Try holding subjects close to the front of your lens while taking the pictures to create emotion-filled images. Small mirrors can enhance the lens flare, feathers, glass crystals will add their own happy, wondrous, confused or charmed characteristics to your photos. While the effects are not readily repeatable you will learn how to create many looks that add to the impact of your photos. Even some small LED lights like decorations can be held close to the lens. The out of focus nature of them can add interest, atmosphere and a deeper sense of feeling to your images.

If you’ve felt inspired to capture emotion, why not share your images with the world.
Upload them to The Gallery.