Too often, the laws of optics conspire against us photographers, and to get what we want artistically, we have to outsmart these annoying limitations.
For example, on a photo tour to Kenya in 2007, our group spotted this beautiful leopard sleeping in a tree. It was a great shot — except for the fact that the large branch that was about 5 or 6 feet in front of the cat wasn’t sharp. I was using a 500mm f/4telephoto, which meant that depth of field was very shallow. I was shooting wide open because the light level was low, and in the vehicle, a tripod is impractical. Out-of-focus foregrounds are usually very distracting, so I solved the problem by taking two pictures.
First, I focused on the leopard and took a photo, and then I focused on the foreground branch and took a second shot. I tried to be as precise as possible in not moving the lens from the time I tookone shot to the time I took the second one was snapped. The camera and lens rested on a bean bag, so while it wasn’t a perfect match, it was close enough.
When I got home, I used Photoshop to combine the two images, below. I metic- ulously cut and pasted the sharp branch (using the pen tool in CS5) over the out of focus branch. Now both the foreground and the background are tack sharp and the picture works. It represents what I saw with my eyes.
- Jim Zuckerman is a top stock photographer and published author who teaches many excellent online photography courses at BetterPhoto.com, including Creative Techniques in Photoshop , Advanced Creative Techniques in Photoshop and Photoshop: Thinking Outside the Box.
- Also, Jim Z is a contributor to two upcoming BetterPhoto Guide books (co-authored by Jim Miotke and Kerry Drager):
- The BetterPhoto Guide to Creative Digital Photography (subtitled "Learn to Master Composition, Color, and Design"), October 2011
- The BetterPhoto Guide to Light (subtitled "Learn to Capture Stunning Light in any Situation"), April 2012