Update: the dof master site is fantastic, the graphic explains this so well.
All this Hyperfocal distance stuff …. I’m beginning to see the light. Ha, this is a subject that is really quite baffling and I have been thinking about it all the wrong way. This site is helping me to grasp this desire to improve my street work. here
I think I am working out where I am going wrong when setting up for “zone focus”. In simple terms I need to set focus at a distance where my optimum will be 1/3 the total range, so that at this distance everything behind will be in focus to infinity and one third on front of this distance will be in front. It’s a sort of 1/3 midway type approach and I have been doing it wrong, sort of.
So it appears what I am actually looking to achieve is something call “deep focus”. Something that is common in cinematic film circles. In my street work I understand the use of shallow depth of field I love it too, and the technique is relatively simple to set up and gain good results. However shallow depth of field is fine to master if your subject as not moving towards or away from you. Clearly the term shallow depth of field is just that, so when your subjects are moving getting them in focus and staying in focus is tricky if they move depending on the relative shallowness of your field and aperture setting they be in or out of focus really quickly, and thus the really reason for super fast auto focusing is great in street photography. But i don’t want to be hunting and focusing on focus when I shoot street. (Excuse that terrible pun). If your subject is out of focus when you get home and look at your days shooting on your fine 27″ iMac your not best pleased to have missed the shot. It’s just not good enough if you want to get good at this genre.
This is also the same for when you the photographer is moving, now I know that sounds crazy but take an example of a street scene taking place where a situation happening that may end soon for example a meeting of lovers or embrace or conflict or argument, as you realise this scene is something you wish to capture you need to stop and shoot quickly, as always you naturally want to get closer too for a good shot, I tend to keep walking and shooting (I don’t zoom) so now again I am relying on my super fast focus system, but if I can work out and practice my focus distances for given camera settings and lenses I will be able to compensate setting and leave the camera in manual focus and still get the scene by knowing just how far I can walk towards or back up from a scene with out getting out of focus shots. Don’t forget you have no time to stop and “chimp” otherwise it will all be over and you have missed your opportunity to capture a great street shot. Ok some things are going to be fixed…like lens focal length in my case this year 35mm lol, but what other variables and what parameters do I need to learn to work within to get shots not worrying too much about trying to lock focus. Let’s face it my human eyes are not hunting for focus on everything changing around me. Everything is all in focus so how can I get as close to this human setting as possible and know what settings to choose on my camera and do this quickly. Let’s look at some images to try and get an idea of what I am trying to do, I often go back over past work and view the settings for shots I like or want to replicate ready for the next time I’m going out street shooting.
So here is an example at f/11 and f/9 respectively.
So far so good and good levels of deep focus.
Next up a shot at f/2
So far so good again controlled out of focus background and nice pop of the subject. So what is the problem, nothing I just want to to be able to learn this in full manual mode so that the street shots can be taken on the fly not waiting for focus to completely finish focusing looking and so I can concentrate on the subject and composition.
I know all this sounds a bit crazy ….but it’s just stuff I want to learn.
For now I need more reading and more practice time so I will be revisiting this subject. If your interested you can read more on hyperfocal distance and all the complex math. Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperfocal_distance and some more on “Deep focus” with Wiki too http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_focus.
So what’s the best lens for street …..well it looks like “any” but you need to know how to use the one on the front of your camera at the time and what settings you use to suit your surroundings.
I just need to learn and practice …… Lots more.
Yeah ok some of you might be thinking why bother with all this stuff just stick it in auto and shoot. Well for me …that’s boring …my hobby is in the learning as well as the practice and finally the results of all that hard work….Subject not closed I suspect.
Hip shot while walking, subjects moving towards and away, nothing to shout about in the scene but I want to be ready to shot like this if I am going to be any good at street photography in my humbled opinion.