February Challenge: Focus… Entry #1 Tuscany

Our first entry is from one of our new members, Lee.  Though she is new to the club, she is not in any way new to photography.  She gives us a valuable lesson in focus!  Why it works and why it doesn’t as well as framing of your view.

Here are my two images for February’s focusing exercise.

Strada di Valoresi, Val d’Orcia

Taken at 1/640, f8 and ISO 160.

My goal was to use the tree leaves above me to help frame the image and I wanted everything in sharp focus plus I didn’t want any graininess so I set my ISO to 160.   I think the leaves are out of focus because my depth of field wasn’t deep enough plus the wind was blowing.

I should have used  f16 or f22, increased my ISO to at least 400 or more.  I could have used 1/500 sec.  Even then, I may not have been able stop the leaves and I couldn’t move back far enough into the road to help with the sharpness.

Not an especially good photo but it illustrates the issues of framing techniques.

La Foce, Tuscany (Photo by Lee)

La Foce, Tuscany
(Photo by Lee)

Strada di Valoresi from La Foce

Shot at 1/640, f16 and ISO 400

I increased my depth of field to include the trees for my frame of the road across the valley.  Still using 1/640 as the winds were awful and have increased my ISO to help with the light at the smaller f16 aperture. I set my focus point to be about 1/3 of the way across the valley in both shots.

I use manual settings and shoot in raw so that I can manipulate my images in Lightroom and Photoshop.

This one was still pretty dark out of the camera. If I had shot it in jpeg, the camera would have compressed my image and tossed out about 25% of the pixels, leaving me with an image that I would have trashed.

La Foce Driveway (Photo by Lee)

La Foce Driveway
(Photo by Lee)

An American woman married an Italian and they lived at La Foce. They wanted a nice view across the valley, so he had this road built to enhance their view.  There’s some very interesting info on them and the villa at: http://www.montepulciano.net/la_foce_iris_origo.htm#.VMkQjcaRP8s

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4 thoughts on “February Challenge: Focus… Entry #1 Tuscany

  1. This is excellent Lee! F/8 vs f/16 and the technique of focusing 1/3 into your image. Also the advantage of shooting in RAW. You also pointed out that the wind blowing could cause the blurring of the leaves requiring a faster shutter speed. All good lessons to be learned!

    And who said photography is easy? There is a lot to learn and then the challenge is, to put it to use in the field. Even though a photographer might have the best of gear, it will not make up for the choices we make. And certainly… focus is critical to getting the shot we want.

    Thanks Lee for this very informative entry!

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