Monday, October 26, 2009

Instructor's Tip: Selective Focus

Photo by Russ Burden

I hope you enjoy this week's "Instructor's Tip" by one of my favorite instructors, award winning nature photographer Russ Burden. To learn more about how Russ captured the above image, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.

REMINDER: There will be no Instructor's Tip next Monday as Russ will be in Bryce and Zion National Parks leading his photo tour. If you really want to learn a ton about composition, depth of field, how to read the light, and so much more about the art of making great images, I strongly urge you to sign up for one of his photo tours. With over 30 years of teaching experience and his passion for photography, I ensure you'll come home a much better photographer in addition to bringing home lifetime memories.

Selective Focus
Lens manufacturers continuously pour large chunks of research and development money into creating faster and sharper lenses. Zoom lenses are now the standard where at one time, if you wanted a sharp image, they were considered amateurish at best. The sharp zooms of today combined with precise autofocus technology allow tack sharp images to be made fairly easily. Ironically, the out of focus areas in a photograph are equally as important as sharp ones if the picture is to be successful. Herein lies the concept of selective focus.

Selective focus images have very little depth of field. The technique is often used in situations where the background would be distracting if it was sharp. Some of the ways to render an out of focus background are to use wide open apertures, long lenses, get the main subject away from the background, move closer to the subject, and change your image making angle. The purpose is to render a sharp subject or section of a subject immersed in a wash of background color. It allows the subject to pop off the page so the viewer zeros in on the area that’s sharp.

Take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took Russ' intermediate and advanced courses last year, and he continues to be a strong source of knowledge and encouragement as I progress in my photography.

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