Change of focus

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.

My very first attempt at bokeh

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:

{36/365} Frost [B/W November 5]

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.

{126/365} I see the light

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.

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About Jenny Graver

Living in Oslo, Norway, with her partner and their infant son, Jenny struggles for balance between all the things that makes life worth living - her family, her job in university administration, her writing, learning and her photography. View all posts by Jenny Graver

2 responses to “Change of focus

  • Kat

    While you are sitting back and enjoying, it is also great that you are noticing the difference! We will all change our creative focus over time, and it is great to be able to observe the change and understand where it is coming from.

    I have found a similar shift in my DOF as I’ve been focusing so much on travel photography. I used to use shallow depth of field all of the time, but now I often want to capture more of the details of a place and will use a deeper field. I’m sure it will change yet again.

  • Gina

    What fun to see your style evolve. I love your sun image ….the contrast between the light and shadows is great. I’m not even sure if that is snow on the ground or just wet earth. Lovely!

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