Discovering Precision Focus.

by Hamish Maccuish May. 08, 2017 904 views

After many...many, blunders, bad exposures and badly placed focal points - I was getting really determined to get my focusing better (manually).

What I realise now; is just how narrow, depth of field really is at f1.8 - I thought I was doing something wrong!

"Why are my shots not focused properly?!" 😖

Personally, I find this to be one of the hardest parts of photography - Am I alone on this?

Maybe it's my camera holding technique, or...squinting through the eye piece; but I'm just not sure when I've got the EXACT area I want, in focus. (Any tips would be great 😁👍)

When I got home and uploaded my attempts and this shot came up, I was incredibly happy with it, for several reasons; most of which stem from chance!

1- It's taken with the Series E prime lens I have, and I was beginning to think I didn't like it because I wasn't getting the shots I wanted (bad workmen blame their tools 🙄). This shot changed my opinion of the lens completely 

2 - I LOVE the super-milky-blurred background. I had no idea that little lens could do that! The balance between the blues and dark's was complete chance. My composition skills were FAR, from geared up to notice these things. 

3 - The lesson I learned about working with small apertures. Again, by chance, I got the focus point, right on the line of the horizon of the moss; where the tallest tendril stands prominent. I was simply trying to get the whole clump of moss in focus and keep the background, out of focus. Like I said; I had NO IDEA, how narrow the plane of focus was going to be. 

So, not only are wide apertures great for letting in lots of light for low light situations, but I can really zone in to very specific areas of a larger subject that I want the viewers eye to go to, because the focal plane is very narrow; without going completely macro. Lesson learned! 😁 

I think this'll take some frequent practise to get right, with purpose, but I like challenges!

The final reason I like this shot so much; I only did minimal post editing.

I took it a while ago - but I'm sure all I done was a small crop, a bit of contrast and a tweak to the saturation levels..and that's it!

I've now learned more about my camera and discovered how to set the in camera saturation levels (that's right; I hadn't read the manual 😁) etc to my taste so hopefully, that'll be a step needed less often, or at least, less manipulation, in post production.

 Thanks for reading, please leave any comments, tips and insights below.

Green Sphagnum Moss On Top of A Post

Sphagnum Moss

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There are 3 comments , add yours!
Christian Hammer Nielsen 2 years, 8 months ago

Haha I love these eureka-moments on my photography journey! You seem pretty excited as well? :)

A tool I like to use for close-up still lifes like this one is a depth of field-calculator. The one I use on my iPhone is called Simple DOF and it serves its purpose. You input the sensor size (DX/crop or Full Frame), the focal length, the aperture and / or the focus distance (I approximate).
This tool has saved me a bunch of times in low light, long exposure close-up settings were I needed the whole object in focus and as blurred a background as possible.

Have fun on your photo-journey! :)

2 years, 8 months ago Edited
Stephanie Hyde 3 years ago

I've discovered shooting wide open requires patience and lots of practice. I use it mostly to shoot my kids and pets and uh, moving subjects and small depths of field give you lots of opportunity to practice. f/1.8 or lower is such a small focal plane. Adding distance between you and your subject will increase your focal plane. There are some cool calculators online that help you calculate your depth of field as well.

3 years ago Edited
Hamish Maccuish Replied to Stephanie Hyde 3 years ago

So it's not just me then!? haha!

Yeah, I've recently been looking into some apps and things to get better at understanding whats going on with focus planes and depth of field.

3 years ago Edited