Utilise depth of field

Digital Photograper - - Techniques -

Dis­cover how to achieve frontto-back sharp­ness to help en­hance per­spec­tive ef­fects

To make the most of lin­ear per­spec­tive your im­age should be sharp from fore­ground to back­ground. For­tu­nately, max­imis­ing depth of field is straight­for­ward. The fac­tors that af­fect it are fo­cal length (the wider you go, the more depth of field there is), aper­ture (the smaller the aper­ture, the more depth of field you get) and where you fo­cus. In many in­stances – es­pe­cially if your fore­ground in­ter­est isn’t that close to the lens – sim­ply fo­cus­ing a third of the way into the scene works well. How­ever, there are times when you need to be more ac­cu­rate. In these cases, you’ll need an un­der­stand­ing of the hy­per­fo­cal dis­tance.

Put sim­ply, the hy­per­fo­cal dis­tance is the fo­cus­ing dis­tance for a given fo­cal length and aper­ture that gives max­i­mum depth of field. Use a chart or app to help you find the hy­per­fo­cal dis­tance for your cam­era at the fo­cal length and aper­ture you’ve set, and then fo­cus on this dis­tance. Most mir­ror­less cam­eras dis­play the fo­cus­ing dis­tance in the viewfinder; if you’re a DSLR user, fo­cus on an ob­ject you es­ti­mate to be at that dis­tance. Use man­ual fo­cus, so the cam­era doesn’t re­fo­cus else­where when you press the shut­ter.

Ev­ery­thing from half the hy­per­fo­cal dis­tance to in­fin­ity will be within the depth of field. Af­ter shoot­ing, re­view your pic­ture to check that both fore­ground and back­ground are sharp.

Left above

Hy­per­fo­cal dis­tance

Here, set­ting the hy­per­fo­cal dis­tance en­sured sharp­ness from the im­me­di­ate fore­ground in front of the lens through to the back­ground

Left be­low

Rule of thumb

With the clos­est fore­ground two to three me­tres from the cam­era, fo­cus­ing a third of the way into the scene cre­ated enough depth of field

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