Landscape photographers often want to get the greatest possible depth of field in their photos. In other words, they want to make sure everything from near to far is in focus. To do that, several factors come into play: the distance to the nearest object, your choice of lens, of aperture, and of where you place your focus point. Of these, the most important might just be the last, and there are several methods that can help you determine exactly where to focus your camera. You might have thought that where you place your focus point would be pretty cut and dried, but there are several schools of thought on how to determine just where that should be. There are even different interpretations of what “infinity” means!
In last month’s Photography 101 article, I discussed what I consider to be one of the most fundamental basics of photography: apertures and shutter speeds. Following closely behind in terms of importance are focal lengths. Simply put, the focal length describes the angle of view of a lens, as compared to natural eyesight. It’s a measurement (expressed in millimeters) of how much of a scene it captures. A long focal length lens, such as a 200mm lens, captures a narrow angle of view, or an enlarged view of the subject. These types of lenses are known as telephoto lenses. A short focal length lens, such as a 28mm lens, captures a much wider angle of view, making the subject appear smaller. As their angle of view implies, these types of lenses are known as wide angle lenses. Lenses that encompass multiple focal lengths are known as zoom lenses. They are easily identifiable with ranges such as 12-24mm, 24-70mm or 100-300mm. A variety of focal lengths can be achieved simply turning or sliding a ring on the lens.
It stood alone at the back of the fog-shrouded field. Situated far off the beaten path and dwarfed by its much taller neighbors, it was virtually invisible. Tram loads of visitors were invariably drawn to the flashier specimens along the roadside – giving nary a glance to their diminutive counterpart in the rear. It can be a losing battle for a tiny star magnolia tree to garner any attention under these conditions. However, unexpected gems might be found when you take a closer look at the “underdog.”