Find a subject in front of a background with depth. Take a close viewpoint and zoom
in; you’ll need to be aware of the minimum focusing distance of your lens. Focus on
the subject and take a single shot. Then, without changing the focal length, set the
focus to infinity and take a second shot.
The closer you are to the subject, the shallower the depth of field; the further from the subject, the deeper the depth of field.
That’s why macro shots taken from very close viewpoints have extremely shallow depth of field, and if you set the focus at infinity everything beyond a certain distance will be in focus.
As you review the two shots, how does the point of focus structure the composition?
With a shallow depth of field the point of focus naturally draws the eye, which goes first of all to the part of the image that’s sharp.
It generally feels more comfortable if the point of focus is in the foreground, although there’s nothing wrong with placing
the point of focus in the background.
I set up my tripod so that I had a view through a Celtic cross headstone.
55mm. f5.6 1/125th. sec. ISO 100
55mm. f5.6 1/320th. sec. ISO 100
In the first shot I focussed inside the hole of the cross so it would give a little depth to what is a shallow image.
The second shot I focussed on the Angel as my lens had everything out of focus at infinity, see more on this below.
The hole in the cross now becomes a frame that focusses your attention on the Angel.
The beyond infinity focussing of modern lenses isn’t a new phenomenon to me, I’ve notice it in many lenses I have owned or used.
The reasons for this bad habit endemic in modern auto focus lenses had never really bothered me but during a quick look on the internet it seems that many manufacturers have different reasons for why this happens.
The most popular reason seems to be to allow for lens expansion at high temperatures, this is why Canon telephoto lenses are white.
A good explanation was found at the B&H photo site in an article by Todd Vorenkamp which I’ve linked below.
What can I say, I cheated; sort of.
As you no longer have focus markings on many modern lenses who can tell where infinity is any more, gone are the days of hard stops and the reassurance that you’re at infinity.
Hyperfocal focussing is also more difficult if not impossible to get accurate.
I wonder how Ansel Adams would’ve dealt with it.