Monday, 31 January 2011

Exercise – Focus with a Set Aperture

The aim of this project was to show the different effects obtainable using a set aperture with the lens as wide open as possible. These are caused by focusing on  a different part of the picture. Using a wide aperture allows for a reduced depth of field therefore you can have one part of the picture more sharply in focus than the rest of it. This allows the eye to be drawn initially to different parts of the frame.
In this instance I used a 14 – 45 zoom lens where the widest aperture was 3.5. A more obvious effect could have been demonstrated by using a lens with a wider maximum aperture. I tried a variety of possible scenarios including a row of baskets of crisps, a group of outdoor cafe tables and an ornamental stone wall. Both the baskets of crisps and the cafe tables showed the effect but I felt in both cases the photograph that showed the scene best was the one that had the whole area in focus rather than a limited portion of the scene.
Example 1.
In the stone wall pictures the effect is fairly subtle but definitely alters the way the eye is led into the picture.
Ornamental Stone Wall  - focus at near point                                                                            Focus point  - start of line    
              Ornamental Stone wall - focus midpoint                                                                               Focus point - mid line
I prefer the first photo where the pillar to the right of the frame is the point of focus. I find that this makes my eye settle on the photo and then I look across at where the line of pillars leads too. In picture 2 I am not sure which way to look first and find this less satisfying as a picture.

Example 2.
Two-tone versions of a close up section of the pillars.
            Ornamental pillar - focus on right.                                                                     Focus point in the pillar to the right.

Ornamental pillar - focus in middle.                                                                      Focus point in middle of the frame.
In this pair of photographs I prefer the 2nd one where the focus is in the centre of the frame. This enables my eye to rest on one point and then look around the edges and it feels more balanced, however the first photo does have a tension that makes me want to look beyond the frame to complete the image.

This pair of pictures differ from the first pair in that one is looking at a specific and close point rather than into the distance. The change of viewpoint clearly effects where the focus should be placed and demonstrates that there is no ‘correct’ answer that suits all images.

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