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Photography tips

A journey in Photography and sharing of how I go about taking various types of photos. Discussions include software and camera equipment and how to make the most of your equipment in a given situation.

Focal Point

09/24/2007 01:40

In any scene one of the creative choices you make is what is the most important part of the image - what should be the focal point of the image.

Recently, I was presented with a scene that I was unsure of - in terms of what I wanted in focus, so being digital, I didn't have to choose - I took 2 photo of the same scene.

Ok, onto the photos and then I'll discuss them in a bit more detail.

Photo #1 - Focus is on the mid-far objects

Photo #2 Focus is on the foreground.

Now, both of these photos were taken with almost identical settings and a very similar location - they were in fact taken only 1 minute apart. The only practical differenceis the focal poin, and therefore the subject of what I was photographing.

They were both taken at ISO 100, 1/200sec, f5.0 at 224mm length (2x multiplier which is equiv to a 448mm lens using a 35mm film camera). I was shooting handheld, and this influenced my settings on the day (1/200sec with a long focal length)

Now the only difference in these photos is the slightly different wave/water in each of them, the different focal points and a slightly different direction. I think I stepped slightly closer to the posts/chain for photo #2.

It is impossible to say in this case that one of these photos was bad and that  I Missed the focal point in one of them. As a photographer, I made a creative choice. By taking a chance I managed to capture 2 totally unique images from the 1 scene.

The creative choice I made was in #1 was to capture the breaking wave - making it the focal point of the image. Now in this image we can also make out the shape of a ship on the horizon and also "see thru" the foreground posts and chain.

The 2nd photo, the choice I made was to focus on the 2nd post from the right in the foreground. By doing this the chain hanging from the rusted posts are clearly what the picture is all about. By using such a large aperture with the chain running at an angle thru the image even it is not all "tack sharp". This decision to focus on the foreground has left the mid and far ground parts of the image totally out of focus. The waves no longer have any detail and the ship on the horizon cannot even be seen.

So, what have we learnt from this, leave a comment and tell me.

Well, I'll tell you what I have learnt - never take just 1 photo when there are objects that may be of interest at different distances from you within a given scene, you might be missiong out on something that is right in front of you.. The other thing I learnt was that I should have taken a 3rd photo - focussed on the ship to really complete the series.

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