This activity looks at focus. It requires me to select a scene which has depth of field and then, with the camera set to it’s lowest f-stop, take 2-3 photographs while focusing on different points in the distance within the shot.
I selected a park scene, looking across some shrubbery and trees.
55mm F5.6 ISO 100
In photograph 1 I placed the focus at a point a 1/4 of the way in from the left. This has put the plants in the foreground of the shot in focus, allowing the details in the leaves to be clear and the plant stems to be well defined. The trees and plants to the right and in at the back of the image are blurred.
In this second photograph I focused on the centre of the image. This has allowed the centre stem to become a focal point. This draws the eye to the fine detailing in the leaves and their translucent qualities. There is still a feeling of distance to the shot as the trees and fencing to the rear are blurred.
55mm F5.6 ISO100
For the third photograph I aimed the focus 3/4 of the way across from the left. This brought the tree more into focus and caused the plants at the forefront to become blurred.
This exercise has shown how the focal point in an image can draw the viewers eye and how a sharp object can really stand out against an out-of-focus background.
While there appears to only a little difference between images 1 and 2 I prefer image 2. My eye was drawn immediately to the almost centre stem of leaves. The central focal point here allowed the detail to be sharp against the out-of-focus surroundings. The image also retained it’s sense of depth.
I decided to repeat this exercise, this time using a more man-made subject, a wardrobe full of clothes. I chose this subject as the colours and patterns made the focal points easier to see.
26mm, F4.2, ISO 200
In this image I placed the focal point to the far right of the shot which shows the garments hanging here clearly. The eye is drawn in particular to the blue and white striped shirt which is sharply in focus.
26mm, F4.2, ISO 200
The central focal point in this shot shows the brown and white stripes shirt very clearly against the out-of-foucussed garments in the forefront and background.
The left focal point sharpens the view of the formal shirts hanging to the rear of the image. This allows the thin stripes on the sleeves to become clear for the first time.
This exercise has shown me the value in varying focal point within an image and the way in which a sharp image can really stand out amidst out-of-focus surroundings.