Take nothing but pictures
Leave nothing but footprints

Exercise 2: Focus with a set aperture

Objective:
To show how changing the focus point with a aperture set at it’s widest affects the picture and make a choice as to which is the preferred image.

For this exercise I have chosen two subjects – both at the same location.  I chose the local garden centre as there are plenty of subjects that can be used and they were kind enough to let me take pictures.

Image set one – potted flowers

This set of images were taken with the lens at it’s widest focal length – 24mm.

2.1: Focus point was the sign on the nearest flower pot

[EXIF: Sony A900, CZ24-70 @ 24mm, ISO200, f/2.8, 1/1000 sec]

2.2: Focus point was on the first of the pink flowers, centre frame

[EXIF: Sony A900, CZ24-70 @ 24mm, ISO200, f/2.8, 1/1000 sec]

2.3: Focus point was the furthest blue flower

[EXIF: Sony A900, CZ24-70 @ 24mm, ISO200, f/2.8, 1/1000 sec]

Selecting a favourite this set of images such as these if always difficult since it’s a subjective thing. Personally I think I prefer the first of the images with the closest focus point point.  The detail of the close subject is fine and the out-of-focus areas further back in the frame emphasise the detail. It was a bit of toss-up between the close and centre focussed images but the the close just won out on this test.

Image set two – pots

The way that garden centres (well some at least) arrange their pots for sale make them an ideal subject again for an exercise such as (hopefully) this as the images below demonstrates.

2.4: Focus point was the closest full pot

[EXIF: Sony A900, CZ24-70 @ 50mm, ISO200, f/2.8, 1/2000 sec]

2.5: Focus point was the pot just left of centre frame

[EXIF: Sony A900, CZ24-70 @ 50mm, ISO200, f/2.8, 1/2500 sec]

2.6: Focus point was the furthest pot

[EXIF: Sony A900, CZ24-70 @ 50mm, ISO200, f/2.8, 1/2500 sec]

Selecting a favourite from these was simpler – the shot with the focus point at centre frame.  The out-of-focus areas at front and back of the the frame really make the centre pot ‘ping’ out.

Conclusions drawn from this project

The selection of relationship between aperture, composition and framing can make a significant difference to the resulting image.

The eye is naturally drawn to in-focus objects in photographs so shallow depth-of-field can be used to make the subject of the photo stand out (significantly more than might be the case with the human eye). Thus the photographer needs to be able to ‘see’ depth-of-field in their mind even if their eyes don’t allow them to do it for real.

Even if composition is broadly the same (as in the two sets of pictures I selected to illustrate this project) the ‘preferred’ image does not always come form the same camera/focus point/aperture settings.  In the flower set it was a close run thing between the close and centre focused images whereas in the pots set it was clearly the centre focus.

Neither the subject nor the composition and camera settings are more important. It is the combination of the two that make the difference.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, July 10th, 2010 at 18:28 and is filed under 01. A way of seeing, OCA Learning Log, TAOP Exercises, The Art of Photography. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.