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Chapter 3. Mastering Camera Controls >  Manipulating Focus

Manipulating Focus

Beginner photographers typically say that they want their photos to be “sharp and clear,” like the photo shown in Figure 3.16, in which the entire widget is reasonably sharp. However, experienced photographers know that a bit of blurriness, used intelligently, can turn an ordinary photograph into one that’s special—a subject that appears to merge with its background. Selective focus, choosing exactly what parts of the image are in sharp focus, and which are not, is a powerful creative tool. Blur can also make other portions of an image appear to be sharper, by comparison. Figure 3.15 shows some flowers (at left) photographed with abundant depth-of-field, so the blooms merge with the background. At right, the reduced depth-of-field makes the flowers stand out from their background.

Unfortunately, the tool of selective focus is not as readily accessible to digital photographers as to those using film cameras, because the short focal lengths used for digital camera lenses render virtually everything in most photos razor sharp. Shorter focal lengths inherently have much more depth-of-field than longer focal lengths, so that 35mm (actual focal length) “telephoto” setting of your digital camera might provide the same field of view as a 135mm telephoto on a film camera, but the depth-of-field produced is closer to what the film photographer gets with a wide-angle lens.


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