Monday, 16 August 2010


Exercise 1 - Focus with a set aperture (2-3 photographs)

This exercise entails taking 2 or 3 photographs of a scene with some depth using a fixed wide aperture. The camera has to remain stationary but the point of focus has to be at a different distance from the camera in each shot. e.g focus point at the front, middle or back of the scene.

The weather here has been appalling this week and as I am keen to keep going with these projects I have had to improvise and arrange a scene to photograph indoors. Ideally, I would have liked to photograph a scene outdoors e.g. the harbour pier with a lot more depth that would have accentuated the results of the changes in focus.

However I have taken the following 3 photographs all shot using my camera mounted on a tripod, in Aperture Priority mode and at an aperture of f/4.

Rear candle in focus - Image 1

The three candles were placed on a black velvet cloth to remove any background distractions. In this image the rear candle is in focus which has the effect of drawing your eye through the image.

Middle candle in focus - Image 2

In this second image the middle candle is in focus. With this image your eye tends to move around the picture and finally settle on the centre candle. To me this image feels more 3 dimensional. The final image below ( Image 3) has the main focus on the foremost candle.

Normally, or what is assumed to be the correct way to take a photograph, is to focus on the 'subject' of the image. By this I mean -what is the main focal point?  The area of sharpest focus draws the eye and becomes the area of attention. In these examples as there are no competing background patterns or colours to distract your eye from the main point of focus this is particularly true.

Personally with these simple photographs I prefer Image 2, with the sharpest focus point on the middle candle. Had the photograph been of a different subject, then the area of sharpest focus I would have decided upon may have been entirely different. E.g. In a portrait picture I would have expected the eyes of the subject to be in focus whether in the centre of the image or not and in a landscape picture I may have decided to take a photograph with the foreground sharply focused.

The area that is focused upon has an effect upon design and in Image 2 (middle focus) the photograph is more interesting. Although all 3 objects are identical, your eye is drawn to the centre candle but then searches around the image to see what is in front and behind the main point of interest. The image is more 3 dimensional, has more depth and you spend more time looking at it.  With Image 1 (rear focus) your eye is drawn quickly to the last candle and has by then seen the entire image and in Image 3 (foreground focus) you arrive at the main point of interest straight away and don't need to look any further.

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