A good friend of mine, Chariti, is doing great things with her personal coaching business, Chariti Gent Coaching & Consulting. Check it out at http://www.charitigent.com and perhaps you’ll find a new resource for you and your life!
Anyway, this year Chariti’s theme is FOCUS. Well, I think this is a fantastic theme and one that really resonates with me. Focus is literally the lifeblood of photography. You have to focus through the lens. But to make a quality photograph, I think you also have to have focus of mind and spirit. I learned this on a recent photography workshop in Sedona, Arizona, with Tim Cooper and Rocky Mountain School of Photography. In fact, the title of the workshop was Finding Your Focus In Sedona!
These last few weeks I've been concentrating on understanding and applying the rules of hyperfocal distance to help ensure that my landscape photographs are sharp from front to back. I’m not an expert on the intricacies of hyperfocal distance, but basically, when the lens is focused at this distance, all objects at distances from half of the hyperfocal distance out to infinity will be acceptably sharp. For example, on a full-frame camera with a 18mm lens and an aperture of f/8, if you set your focus at about 4 ½ feet, then everything from 2 ¼ feet to infinity will be sharp. The hyperfocal distance varies depending on the focal length of your lens and your aperture. Well, that about exhausts the extent of my technical knowledge on the subject. Let’s just say that I’m going on a little bit of faith that it really does work!
I took the following shot of Cathedral Rock from Red Rock State Park just outside of Sedona. There are some things about this photograph that I'm not crazy about, such as the fact that I couldn't get closer to the trees and had to use a 200mm focal length to zoom in and get the crop I wanted. It's not a wide-angle shot. Unfortunately, this compressed the image and made the rocks, which were much bigger and farther away, appear to be about the same size as the trees in the foreground. Nevertheless, my intention in taking this photo was to practice using hyperfocal distance, which worked out very well! I also do like the composition of the photo.
I’ve also been working on using selective focus and a shallow depth of field to create an entirely different mood. I took the following photograph while walking around my neighborhood on a recent bitterly cold January morning. I was struck by the simplicity and serenity of this single blade of prairie grass encrusted in snow from the previous night’s snow storm. This was a perfect opportunity to use selective focus and a shallow depth of field. I used a long focal length (200mm) to zoom in tight and spot focus on the blade of grass, which was about 20 feet away. When combined with a wide aperture (f/5.6), the background was rendered as this lovely, soft blur of colors. This is one of my favorite photographs!
Well, I hope to follow my friend Chariti’s inspired direction and make FOCUS—both literally and figuratively—the foundation of my photographic journey.