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February 21, 2012


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Nancy de Flon

Nice images, Kerry! Thanks for the reminder about big DOF in this type of work. Whenever I try to get "artistic" with selective focus in macro shots I find the results unsatisfying. Heck, the reason to move in close is to see it all. Clearly.

Kerry Drager

Thanks for the note, Nancy - I'm pleased you like the photo! Actually, for many macro shots, I prefer selective focus for the artsy soft look :) But those generally involve a single subject - such as one flower as the star attraction. Then a wide aperture blurs out the background - otherwise it will be distracting. However, for pattern types of images, like this Dish Design series, the more sharpness the better. That's because the overall pattern is actually the subject (i.e., all parts of the scene of equal importance), rather than a single main focal point. Hope that makes sense! :) Thanks again,

Richard Riebel

I loved the simplicity of the set up, and the results!

Your choice of the smallest aperture for greatest DOF raises a question. You connect greatest DOF with "...as much sharpness as possible..." I have long associated greatest sharpness of a lens with apertures less than the point where diffraction occurs, usually less than f/8. Did I misread your comment, or is my assumption wrong?


Carol Lee

Kerry - i enjoy these and many of your other close-up shots. I especially like the reflection of the color from the background. As a relative beginner, I am not familiar with the concept "selective focus".

Kerry Drager

Hi Richard,
Thanks for the note - glad you like the set-up and pics!

The "as much sharpness as possible" relates to the depth of field (DOF). By using a smaller aperture (high f/number), you can get more sharpness throughout in the image - beyond the point of focus - for greater DOF. By using a wide aperture (lower f/number), the range of sharpness will be very narrow ... and for a scene like this, the more DOF the better.

If when shooting, you notice diffraction or another image-quality issue, you may want to adjust things. But it really depends on the lens, the scene, whether you're using a tripod (essential for non-stationary close-up subjects), etc., as well as the selected f/stop.

I think you may be referring to sharpness at the point of focus ... in which a middle f/stop gives the sharpest result at that point. But if an image needs a greater range of sharpness (i.e., more DOF), then going with a smaller aperture is the way to go. A photo will look blurry to the viewer if a scene has a shallow DOF when it really needs as much front-to-back sharpness as possible.

Hopefully this makes more sense!

Kerry Drager

Hi Carol,
Glad you liked this post!

The term "selective focus" refers to the depth of field - a narrow DOF in which very little beyond the point of focus is sharp. This is something that relates to close-up photography - and extreme close-ups (macro). Once you decide the precise spot in the scene in which you set the focus, you can determine how much in front and in back of that point will also be sharp. So for selective focus, you'll choose a wide aperture (low f/number). For more depth of field (i.e., more sharpness in front and in back of that point), you'll need to go with a small aperture (high f/number).

Hope this helps!

Richard Riebel

Thanks, Kerry.
I was misunderstanding your comment.

It is great to have an excellent photographer show the process of a set piece such as you have done here. Especially with available light.


Kerry Drager

You're welcome, Richard. I'm glad it makes more sense ... thanks for asking me to clarify!!

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