Hyperfocal. The word sounds so…intense. Maybe it is. By taking your lens and aperture into account while focusing at just the right spot, you can milk every bit of sharpness scientifically possible out of a scene.
OK, before moving on, let’s just air this out: Some participants half-ignored the challenge, just stopping down to f/22 and praying for the best, rather than calculating where was best in the scene to focus. This technique certainly works in a jam, but the end product might not be as good as it COULD be. Diffraction will ultimately dictate whether that print is suitable for your wall and/or museum.
A few of you went with long exposures and wider apertures. At first, I was a bit taken aback, but then I realized, if you’re spending 30 seconds to several minutes to maybe even an hour on a shot, knowing what will appear in focus is all the more important, and the rules of hyperfocal distance certainly come into play. Thanks for teaching me that one!
I took this photo at the UC Davis airport. I sat with my camera on my bag with the shot composed and my lens set to the proper hyperfocal focus position and waited for a plane to take off. It took a few planes to get one in the right position. Thanks to Peter Hess for his help with the post work on this photo. I believe this was taken at an aperture of f/16 or f/22…not sure because the manual lens doesn’t save EXIF data. Panasonic Lumix GH2, Sigma 24mm f/1.8 EX DG Asph Macro (cropped to 48mm equiv.) Post in Adobe Lightroom.
– Benjamin Bunch
This is the old lighthouse in Scituate Harbor, MA. Thanks to this challenge I discovered my camera’s DOF preview button on the front, and learned some important lessons re: aperture and lighting conditions. Thanks Gizmodo! I am not sure how much of this technique I’ll be using in the future (Having to calculate the HFD on the spot is hard, since many times the shot is unpredictable), but in this case it was a great learning experience. It actually worked! Canon T2i, 50mm lens, ISO 800, 18mm, 0EV, f/10, 1/2000
– Diego Jiménez
This shot was taken at 6:33pm near the Hogs Back falls in Ottawa, Ontario on a wintery saturday evening. On this particular evening the snow was tapering off at the time the shot was taken and the weather was about -6 celsius, a perfect night for taking the falls. The falls look kind of eerie as the snow was still falling a bit and nightfall was upon us. However the site of the falls being in the city, the reflected light from city streets had be try out different white balance settings until the one that seemed the most appropriate was chosen which was white fluorescent. The image was converted to black and white as it seemed to have more impact. Nikon D300s, Nikkor 18-200 DX 3.5-5.6 GII ED, f/18, 30 second exposure, Hyperfocal distance approx. 27 feet near and far = infinity.
I’ve always enjoyed this view. Since you have to turn away from the landmark people come to see I wonder how many people take the time to appreciate this particular perspective. I like using one lens, often a prime for each “shooting adventure” I take, forcing myself to find great photos without relying on a variety of gear. I am often surprised at the variability and creativity one can have with say, a 50mm lens. I used my Canon 7D with a 50mm prime to get this shot. Exposure time 1/1000 and f-stop 11.
A kinda sorta long exposure (14 minutes is kind of short by my standards, I’m usually doing them in the 1-2 hour range. . .) shot maybe 20 minutes before sunrise. What you can’t see are the sub-freezing temperatures and the 20 MPH winds blowing nearly frozen salt spray into the air. Shot on a Nikon D700 with a 16-35 f/4 VRII. 14 minutes @ ISO 200 f/4.
– Luke Bhothipiti
I love shooting the many old oil country train trestles here in Warren, PA – they offer great contrast (especially now in winter), perspective and detail. I used a tripod and remote for most of my attempts for this challenge, but I ended up taking this shot handheld. I used a handy DOF calculator app because, really, who wants to stand around in 16 degree river wind doing algebra? Kinda takes the fun out of the photography. The bolts/rivets at the extreme left edge of the frame are about 8 feet from me, the far end of the bridge is around 1,000 feet from me, the houses on the other side of the river nearly half a mile. Nikon D7000, 18-105mm lens at 40mm, ISO 100, f/13, 1/30.
– Jeremy Jeziorski
Kranjska gora, Slovenia. There is a legend aboud an ibex with golden horns, a story about love, greed and courage. From his blood grew the prettiest flowers ever seen. In order to marry a beautiful girl a hunter decided to kill the golden ibex. The ibex was hurt but he killed the hunter and it took a year before the rivers washed his body into the valley. A hunter was still holding the flowers in his hand. The ibex left the mountains and was never seen again. However an ordinary ibex still lives in our mountains and the ibex with golden horns is now a symbol and a legend. Nikon D5000, AF-S 18-105, 18mm, ISO 400, f/8, 157 sec. Focus set at around 3 meters.
Kudos to those of you who embraced the technical aspects of this challenge. I know that no one wants to mess with formulas in their casual photography, but at the same time, having these principles nagging at the back of your mind can do nothing but make your photos more controlled. Big shots on flickr.
For the last six months, I’ve been working on a very exciting project called Philanthroper, which is now accepting beta testers. Sign up to help us build something that could change everything.
Send an email to Mark Wilson, the author of this post, at [email protected].
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