Focus is crucial in photography, both technically and artistically. This much is self-evident. But how to achieve the focus I want? How to portray my chosen subjects in such a way that there is a match between the camera’s focus and the focus of my inner vision?
I suspect I’ll never stop wondering about this question.
One of my favourite focus strategies has been to work with a shallow depth of field, making the subject of my image stand out against a blurred background.
I still remember the joy I felt when I first discovered that I, too, could get that blurred background and bokeh I had seen in other people’s images.The photo below is from the first time I explored this technique, spending forever moving the camera, the egg and the candle back and forth in relation to each other.
Reviewing my favourite images from the last three months, I am surprised to see that there are comparatively few images using a shallow depth of field. This is one of my absolute favourites of those I do find:
So why am I shooting with a shallow depth of field less frequently now? It would seem there has been a change of focus in my photography, without me quite knowing about it.
There are various reasons for this change in my focus. For one thing, I have recently begun shooting specific themes. For two of these themes, stillness and thresholds, a shallow depth of field does not so far seem to play a big part of my creative vision. Also, I am shooting a lot with my cell phone these days, and the optics of the cell phone camera do not lend themselves well to shallow depth of field effects.
Finally, I have discovered the fact that a narrow aperture and corresponding deep depth of field will result in the starburst points of light that I enjoy so much – when I first looked closely at the image below, I was thrilled to discover that not only was the sun in a starburst shape, but I even caught a mini-starburst of reflected sunlight.
It seems that my creative photography skills are developing in their own direction and only partially as a result of conscious input from me. I just sit back and enjoy the ride.