Focus - Photo Challenge: Foreground/Background in Focus

February 09, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

It's already week 5 of doing this weekly photo challenge. The theme for the week was to do a shot with the foreground in focus and then do the same shot with the background in focus. I came up with this topic too, but that's not the main reason I liked it. I thought the real challenge in it was having something of interest for the foreground and the background. It also meant that the part of the shot out of focus still needed to add some interest to the shot without just being a distracting out-of-focus blob. I had some ideas for what I wanted to do, but most of what I got didn't really develop until I was already working on the project. I think there are really unlimited possibilities on how to do some really creative things with this type of project.

 

*warning - photo-geek content ahead*

So, how does the whole out-of-focus part work in a photo? When you take a picture, there is a certain area of the shot that is sharply in focus (assuming you focused well). The starting and ending point of the focused area is called the "depth of field." That just means how deep in the image is the part that is in focus. This can be anywhere from only being inches (or smaller) deep in the shot or can extend to the entire image. For the most part this depth of field is controlled by the size of the aperture (the opening that lets the light in) - the bigger the opening the smaller the focused area; the smaller the opening the more of the image is in focus. There are many for factors that cause this effect and this is a significantly oversimplified explanation, but let's be honest...you probably have either stopped reading or fallen asleep at this point.

I put together an example using the same image to show how depth of field changes as the aperture size decreases. The picture below was taken at f/1.8 on the left (huge opening) and progressing to the right with larger and larger depth of field (smaller aperture). You can easily see how the in-focus area changes. Having a narrow depth of field can be really helpful to remove a distracting background like the one in the example. So in order to accomplish the theme for this week I had to take one photo with the focus point in the foreground which blurs out the background and then take the same picture with the focus point in the background which blurs out the foreground. Got it?

aperture tutorialApperatureExample *end - photo-geek content*

OK, sorry about that. I just had to get it out of my system. I promise you won't learn anything else from this post.

 

Welcome back to those of you who dozed off or finally came back after the boring bit. On to the photos for the week.I'm just going to show the pictures in the order that I took them, since I'm not sure that I have a favorite shot for the week.

 

The first day I went out, I was actually headed someplace else, but passed by the First United Methodist church downtown and had to stop. I have shot this church before but mainly had focused on the architecture of it. The statue in the front seemed like a great spot to get the effect I wanted.

First United MethodistDSC_9858

First United MethodistDSC_9859

After my stop at the church I headed over to Oakwood Cemetery. I had seen pictures from there, and it looked like a cool spot. I plan on trying some more things from that location.

Downtown Fort WorthDSC_9886

Downtown Fort WorthDSC_9887

Self portrait?

Downtown Fort WorthDSC_9902

Downtown Fort WorthDSC_9903

 

The next day I went down to the Stockyards. I wanted to get some shots of those really great brick walkways. I found one isle with no one on it, and got some shots that I really liked.

Fort Worth StockyardsDSC_0023 Fort Worth StockyardsDSC_0024

 

The last day of shooting was with my super-cool brother-in-law who is a Fort Worth Motorcycle Police Officer.

Fort Worth Police DepartmentDSC_0054

Fort Worth Police DepartmentDSC_0055

Fort Worth Police DepartmentDSC_0048

Fort Worth Police DepartmentDSC_0049

Just for the irony of it...

Fort Worth Police DepartmentDSC_0060 Fort Worth Police DepartmentDSC_0061

 

This week's theme was harder than the others, but I think it really could be fun to explore this more and work on telling a story with seeing something more in the second shot that reveals more meaning in the first shot. Maybe I will revisit this some day.

 

Pop quiz: Which makes the depth of field larger (deeper) - a bigger aperture or a smaller one?

 

I started an email newsletter last month to send out monthly to keep people up-to-date on things they might have missed. You can sign up here, and I promise not to bug you with anything other than updates.


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