Let us begin today with two visitor’s photos that are very, very
different in subject and style, but very much alike in their quality
and in the power they emit. Their work is in fact, photography at its
This face to face encounter with a Sea Lion was artfully captured by
Gustavo Maqueda in the waters off the coast of Baja, Mexico. While we
are in its world, it has obliged Gustavo to come into his, therefore
ours. We are lucky. What a great image!!
It was shared in my Flickr group called of course, Earth Images.
I love this dreamy, powerful, monochromatic vision of an old church in
Smoky Mt. N.P., Tennessee. Cade’s Cove I would imagine. Jack Graham is
The “wispy treatment” with the clouds provides a beautiful contrast
with the old wooden side of the church, while the “wide angle lean”
that we see in that church mimics the clouds and ties them back
Great job Jack!! This photo was found on Facebook as Jack and I are
My humble (old) photos hardly belong in this post with the two above,
but I’ll share them anyway.
Landscape photographers have had a tendency to ignore locations that
aren’t legendary for photography. Dinosaur National Monument in
Colorado/Utah, is heavily visited, and I am quite sure many pictures
are created there every year. That said, you rarely see well-known
landscape photographers work the canyon drive there.
My photo below admittedly borders on being a snapshot yet you can see
the color, tone and texture combinations at “Dino” can be beautiful.
How Much Depth Do You Have In The Field?
When working up close, rendering what will be sharp and in focus, and
what will be soft and out focus, is a matter of how much depth of
field you will produce within the image. Which f stop you select ( f4
verses f32 etc.) along with where you put your point of focus, and
finally how much distance you have between objects in the photo, will
determine what will “appear to be” in focus and what will not. Too
often when doing macros all of us searches for entirety of focus.
Everything in the picture frame being sharp and in focus. When
possible, that can look great, but oft times it is less artistic than
the dimensionality that seems apparent when there is a mix of sharp,
in focus items, and soft out of focus objects in the same picture.
This Chicory blossom and Monarch Butterfly are pretty close to being
in focus, while the background is soft and out of focus, and therefore
unobtrusive in the picture. The flower and the butterfly is the point
in this picture, and the background should be via shallow depth of
field, be irrelevant.
I used a 300mm lens which gave me some working distance from me
subject. The lens aperture was set at f9 giving me just enough depth
of field to cover the butterfly and flower well enough, to satisfy the
eye of most viewers.
This bee photo is similar. The front of the bee and the flower which
resides directly below it, are sharp because they are on the same
plane. I used a zoom lens set at 240mm (similar as above), and an f
stop of f14 which provided a bit more depth of field, to keep what I
wanted sharp, sharp, while leaving the background without detail. The
front of the flower is also soft, and one must make decisions as to
whether that is bothersome or not. To me, it is not.
This next image is surely a matter of opinion in every way. Only the
lower petal (most but not all of it), and a small portion of the upper
petal are sharp here. This is an “edge photo” in that it can be
difficult to accept once you begin examining it, while often at first
glance it is acceptable and pretty. It is an edge photo, because it is
right on the edge of acceptance, and some people will enjoy it and
many will not.
To me, this final image of a planting of Tulips, is a perfect example
of creative but still acceptable use of depth of field. It works
mainly because there is some distance between the forward Tulip, and
all of the flowers in the rear. The dramatic natural light that
illuminates that front flower, is the finishing touch. Also, the off
center composition of that flower, makes the image more visually
To me this image is by a long ways the best thought out and the best finished piece from among my personal photos that you see here today.
How much depth of field, and where you place your focus can be
difficult when you are working up close, but it is also one of the
best tools we have. Total near to far sharpness certainly has its
place, even in macro photography, but a thoughtful mix of sharpness
and softness, can be more powerful. That mix, is a form of contrast,
which can be an even better tool.