Photographers are always dallying with the dilemma of how much depth of field or sharpness from near far, do we need for an acceptable image. Total near to far crispness is often sought after in grand landscapes, but from medium scenes to close-ups, and on to super close-ups, finding the right amount of depth of field to cover everything we want but no more, can be problematic.
The truth is, I would hate to see every image made to have total crispness. Art is in the eye of the beholder, but photography needs enough personal vision as to allow photographers to use the tools at their disposal to create what they personally see.
I created photographic images for so many years that eventually I learned “see” (without a camera) in both total and shallow depth of field. Just with my eyes. When the available light and nearness of my subject allowed, I made images which purposely fit my vision of shallow sharpness or deep sharpness.
The image below is of a totally dew soaked flower, and it is close to but not exactly, my original vision. I actually wanted just a little more depth of field than I got. My dof preview lever was put into to use, but I still missed my mark.
The right half of the central, bottom petal is sharp, as is the very left edge of petal to its right. My vision if I remember was, all of the bottom petals sharp. As is, I need a little more sharpness (depth of field) to view this image comfortably.
I actually refused to sell a print of this photo because I felt it wasn’t what I wanted it to be.
This dragonfly photo also fits into the close-up or macro category. It was essential, if I wanted this image to work, that my central subject the dragonfly, be sharp. It was just as important to me, that the background pond remain softly out of focus, and unobtrusive. That is pretty much what I got. The tops of the wings, are a slight bit out of focus, but that is not of much concern to me because the primary subject, the dragonfly, is only a portion of the entire rectangle called the picture frame. An in focus, sharp head and body will carry viewers comfortably through the image.
Apertures in the f16-32 range are not always needed for completely in focus wildlife imagery.
This “detail rich” image of an elephant was made with an aperture of f6.3 and a 500mm lens. Wildlife is like any subject in that if there is very little depth to be covered, it is easy to capture sharp focus and volumes of detail. In this case, the elephant is only showing us a few inches of protuberance or recession. F6.3 produced enough depth of field, even with a 500mm telephoto, to render everything sharp. One reason is, that I was actually located physically at a fair amount of distance from the subject. Of course, my focus had to be right on and there was no camera shake.
This next wildlife picture is a very different animal……..so to speak.
I not only wanted to show this bird in the context of its environment, I also wanted to abstract the scene somewhat, while doing so. The lines and their reflections are similar in color and tone as is the bird which gives an abstract feeling to the photo. I did not want a close-up of the bird. This image is a wetland scene with a bird in it, not a bird in a wetland. I needed total sharpness to accomplish my goal, and I was aided by the fact the bird and the reeds are almost on the same plane. The reflections of the reeds, are a tiny bit soft as we move down the picture frame, but if anything I like that, as it actually provides a teeny bit of visual relief from those sharp repeating lines.
Of course, the champion of total depth of field, or total near to far sharpness, is the grand landscape, such as this one that I created in Monument Valley Arizona/Utah.
I would be hard pressed to see this scene in any other way, but the decision is of course in the hands of the one creating the image.
Be it too little, too much, or just right, you are the one in control. It is your camera, your vision and your picture.
I know given the state of America, it seems as though I have picked a strange time to stop commenting on politics and social issues. Everybody on earth is doing that and it seems to me, a little respite from such, is a good thing.
With that said, I am surely not done with those subjects.
This next statement might seem strange, but I mean it in the sense of, when something that is of worldwide and historic nature is occurring, in some ways we are all fortunate to be able to witness it unfold in front of us. That is true regardless of how bad the occurrence might be.
Let there be no doubt in your mind, while nobody knows the exact direction of all things or the moment they will happen, what you’re seeing in the world and America today, was forecast over 2,000 years ago.
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
Jesus, gave His life for His sheep. You and I are those sheep. Should we do any less for Him?
Go out and enjoy, and I wish each of you God’s Blessings,