Creeping in Thyme

Apart from being a great look at a honeybee today, this is a fun shot for the depth of focus. For those who aren’t familiar with how cameras (and your eyes, for that matter) work, in every photograph (lots of factors go into this and I’m simplifying), there are parts of it that are in focus and parts that are not. Reasons for that aside (that’s another discussion – why), looking out from the lens, there’s a parralell slice of what you’re seeing that will be in focus – and you can adjust, with the focus ring, where that slice of focus shows up. In my case, I usually want to put the eye within that slice. And the closer the lens is to the subject, the narrower that slice of focus will be. In some shots, it’s really razor thin.

In this shot, that slice looks like it’s about 2mm. You can see that the blossoms and leaves that are in the foreground are blurred to varying degrees. And the background gets really blurred. So the bee is framed by things out of focus in front and in back of her. And it’s a really neat effect that the photographer has lots of control over.

If you’ve got a minute (and have the interest), have a look at some of your favorite photographs and notice what’s in focus and what’s not – then think about why. Landscapes don’t always lend themselves well to this exercise – they’re kind of different most of the time (and one of the reasons that sub-genre is a little less interesting to me than some others). When you’re looking at a shot you like, try to figure out why the photographer made the choices he or she made. In this shot, if the background, too, were in good focus (and that’s possible), the bee would have gotten lost in the details of the blossoms. But because I chose to make that slice really thin with this one, it pops out – draws your eye to her.

And if you’re a photographer yourself (using a DSLR…a phone is tougher to control the depth of focus with), you can play around with the width of that slice using manual aperture (f-stop) settings – it’s usually AV on your camera dial. The smaller the number, the smaller the slice of focus (i.e. f/2.8 will give you a lots thinner slice than f/22). You can also adjust the thickness of the slice by getting closer to or farther from your subject. The closer you are, the thinner the slice becomes.

Wow, that was long. Thought I was just gonna post a neat bee today. Guess I will now…

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