Exercise 2.4: Woodpecker

The Brief

Find a subject in front of a background with depth. Take a very close viewpoint and zoom in; you’ll need to be aware of the minimum focusing distance of your lens. Focus on the subject and take a single shot. Then, without changing the focal length or framing, set your focus to infinity and take a second shot.

As you review the two shots, how does the point of focus structure the composition? With a shallow depth of field the point of focus naturally draws the eye, which goes first of all to the part of the image that’s sharp.
Achieving deep depth of field might appear easy compared to the difficulties of managing shallow depth of field. We’re surrounded by images made with devices rather than cameras, whose short focal lengths and small sensors make it hard to achieve anything other than deep depth of field. The trick is to include close foreground elements in focus for an effective deep depth of field image. Foreground detail also helps to balance the frame, which can easily appear empty in wide shots, especially in the lower half. When successful, a close viewpoint together with the dynamic perspective of a wide-angle lens gives the viewer the feeling that they’re almost inside the scene. 

Again without moving the camera, select a very small aperture (perhaps one stop above the minimum to avoid diffraction) and find a point of focus that will give you acceptable sharpness throughout the entire field, from foreground to infinity. Take a third shot and add it to the first two to make a set.

The exercise is also a way of thinking about attentional focus. According to some of the most recent thinking in neuroscience, the left hemisphere of the brain attends more to detail while the right hemisphere attends more globally. It’s rather like a woodpecker pecking an insect out of the tree while at the same time keeping an eye out for predators. In photography, you could say that having a good grasp of detail allows you to master the technical aspects while seeing the connections between things makes meaning. You’ll return to this point in Exercise 3.3.

Response

To be fair this is one that I did struggle with as I couldn’t get the results I was looking for initially. below is the final resulting set of images focusing the foreground, then background with the final balanced image.

  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 8 July, 2019
  • Focal length: 70mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/125s

  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 8 July, 2019
  • Focal length: 70mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/100s

  • Aperture: ƒ/22
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • Taken: 8 July, 2019
  • Focal length: 70mm
  • ISO: 1600
  • Shutter speed: 1/60s

 

 

Continue Reading