Hyper Focal Setting For More Depth of Field

Use this technique to create depth in your images, while maintaining the sharpness of your foreground to background elements
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Depth in a photograph is conveyed by a spatial relationship between foreground, midground and background elements whereas those nearest the lens are emphasized while the rest of the composition recedes into the distance. The foreground object becomes exaggerated in its size and makes it a dominant feature. The viewer is led through succeeding layers in the rest of the photo. This technique is commonly used in landscape photography to create a three dimensional feel.

To produce this effect, wide angle lenses are used because of their inherent ability to produce more depth of field. Find a scene that has a strong foreground element. Put the lens close to it. Compose the picture so the foreground element is exaggerated and the rest of the composition recedes into the distance. Verticals can be employed equally as well as horizontals.

To achieve maximum depth of field for the purpose of keeping all foreground to background elements sharp, focus the lens at its hyper focal setting. Much depth of field can be gained using this process. The way it works is you set the near distance in feet for your chosen ƒ-stop on the focus mark of the lens. To do this, be sure to go to Manual Focus mode. The focus mark may be a small dot or line near the feet and meter distance markings on the barrel of the lens. When you look through the viewfinder, it will look as if the composition is out of focus. Ignore this fact and take the picture. Do not try to refocus the lens. Due to the physics of focusing, the image will be sharp from the foreground to background as long as it falls into the hyper focal range. With the focus set at the hyper focal distance, everything from one half of the hyper focal distance to infinity will be sharp. Charts are available on the internet that show the relationship of a given aperture to a specific focal length and focus distance. For instance, I just Googled "Hyper Focal Distance Chart" and was directed to pages of them. The use of a tripod is essential in that corresponding shutter speeds to achieve a proper exposure will be slow.

Many photographers set the lens to infinity as it makes sense in that the background subject is often very far away. By doing this, much depth of field is wasted as opposed to setting the lens to the hyper focal setting. For instance, using the above technique, a 28mm at ƒ22 set to the hyper focal distance can net a range of focus from 2.35 feet to infinity. With the same settings with the lens set to infinity, a considerable amount of foreground material would be out of focus. Go out and experiment to see the effect of shooting a scene both ways. If your thing is foreground to background sharpness and you're not using the hyper focal technique, you'll wonder why you never did it sooner.

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