Exercise: Focus with a set aperture

The brief: Find a scene which has depth as seen from an acute angle and from the same place and using the widest aperture take 2-3 photos focusing on something at different distance.

Due to a horrible rainstorm this week, I had to resort to doing the exercise indoors which wasn’t my best choice. I used my 50mm prime lens for this exercise.

Focus on the front rice bowl

Ex 02 focus set aperture focus front

f1.8, 1/25, 50mm, ISO 200

Focus on the middle rice bowl

Ex 02 - f1.8 rice bowl - 02 focus middle

f1.8, 1/25, 50mm, ISO 200

Focus on the back rice bowl

Ex 02 focus set aperture focus back

f1.8, 1/25, 50mm, ISO 200

While all three images work for me, I  would rank the first image as my favourite. The front bowl that is in focus anchors my eye for a while so I can inspect the detailed etchings on the bowl, then my eye wanders up the line over the progressively blurred bowls and returns to the front bowl.

In the second photo, my eye tends to skip over the first two bowls until I come to the bowl in focus, lingers for a second or so and skips over the last two bowls. Because this image is ‘weighted’ equally, ie two out of focus bowls on either side of the sharply focused bowl, it tends to be predictable and boring.

In the final photo my eye is teased by the mystery of the very out of focus first bowl and it then speeds along the other bowls to finally settle on the end bowl which is in focus – a process of revelation. Mystery solved. This is my second favourite image.

I think we are drawn to what we can recognize and identify immediately. Shallow depth of field plays a part in directing the viewer’s eye to the subject matter. It also creates visual interest. By using a different focal points, one can change visual interest of the image, thereby creating a more engaging photo.