XDrive Photo Lesson 9 – Focus

This is my submission for XDrive Photo Lesson 9 – Focus. All photos were taken with Nikon D750.

First, here is the daylily photo I posted for XDRive Photo Lesson 8.

(F/13 1/80 Sec. ISO-200 105mm)

In Raj’s comment, he said, “You have an aperture of f13 that should have sharpened the whole flower. The reason is your shutter speed. At a focal point of 105mm, you should be around 1/160 sec minimum. So there is a micro camera shake in the picture.”

Well, it was more than a “micro” camera shake. This photo was taken in my front yard and it was quite windy that day. Anyway, after reading Raj’s comment, I decided to bring the flower inside of the house and give it another try.

(By the way, the black background was interesting for me too. It was during the day; I think it was because the sunlight shinning on the flower, and how far the background was from the subject.)

(F/8 1/250 Sec. ISO-2000 105 mm)

Even with F/8 instead of F/13 (no wind) I can see a lot more details of the flower in this photo! (I mean… Raj was right 😉

What’s next? Raj had mentioned a couple of things about DOF. I decided to take some photos to help me remember what I had learned.

Photo 1 – f/9 1/15 Sec. ISO-1250 105 mm
Photo 2 – f/9 1/10 Sec. ISO-1250 300 mm
Photo 3 – f/5.6 1/80 Sec. ISO-1270 300 mm

The longer the focal length of the lens, the shallower the DOF.

Comparing photo 1 and 2: they both have same F-Stop, but Photo 2’s focal length (300 mm) is longer than photo 1 (105 mm). Sure enough, Photo 2 has shallower DOF (The Chinese character in the background is more blurry.)

The closer you are to your subject, the shallower the DOF.

Comparing photo 2 with photo 3: Based on F-Stop, photo 3 should have shallower DOF (F/5.6 vs. F/9). But because of photo 2 was taken closer to the subject, photo 2 turned out having a shallower DOF.

It’s fun to take photos to “verify” what I have learned. 😉 Not because I don’t believe my instructor, but because I often suspect my camera has its own soul, since it often produces unexpected results ;-).

One thing I want to say about taking sharp photos (focusing) is probably not agreed by many — gear does matter! I am not saying that one can take better (sharp) photo with a more expensive camera; I am saying that the weight of a camera (certain weight is more stable for certain person) and how hard you have to press the shutter release button to take a photo does affect the quality of your photos. In other words, I believe certain camera suits me better than the other. (There, I said it.) I mean… based on my experience, I get along better with certain cameras. 😉

Finally, here are photos I took at the Temperance River State Park. (By the way, I did go back to ask the boy’s email address and emailed his photos to him.)

Both photos: F/5.6 1/640 Sec. ISO-200 300 mm

I was surprised at how these photos had turned out. To be honest, I didn’t have many successful shots with 300 mm focal length (a lot of blurry ones.) This time, I did use the information board to support the camera though.

Even though I am happy with the result, I am quite aware that they can be further improved. For example, it would be much better if I had included the water below in the composition (but in that case, would I be able to see his face expression?). Oh well, all of these will get better with practices, I am sure 😉

Thanks for visiting my blog.


About Helen C

A retired computer programmer who loves writing and photographing, and has managed to publish a YA novel "Jin-Ling’s Two Left".
This entry was posted in photo, photo and thoughts and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to XDrive Photo Lesson 9 – Focus

  1. prior.. says:

    Helen! U posted the kids – right on…
    And the in air one with the bright shoes is “pure joy”
    Also – these posts with your lessons with Raj (and Amy’s chiming in) well they are such a nice resource for us readers – and micro shake huh?
    Oh the paintbrushes were a nice subject choice for depth shots – 😉
    Good day to ya

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Raj says:

    Wow Helen, fantastic post. One of the best posts so far. You practically nailed all the theory.
    Pic 1: Proves that tiny camera shake was the culprit. Shadows and the highlights give the flower a 3D appearance.

    Pic 2, 3 & 4: Again you are right on your assessment. About comparison to pc 3 and 4, it’s important to know as you are closer to the subject (physically) the DOF becomes seriously shallow. This is the reason why macro lens shooting is very tricky, in macro shooting you are able to shoot from very close distance, but that has its own disadvantage on DOF.

    Regarding the focus, yes, the gear matters. But knowing the gear is very important. If you know your gear, the most basic manual focus lens could do miracles. In the photo of diving, you must have gone with autofocus, but one could have done manual focus too. If you focus manually on the diver boy as he closes in, and use the same focus while he jumps, he would still be in focus (read focus plane). Remember the focus process always has some delay, and also some camera shake of its own! Generally, sport-tuned cameras perform better here. Hight burst rate definitely would create better choices of output. My Sony A6000 gives me 11 fps! But I would do manual focus here.

    Great post! I am going to reblog this post on mine. This critical review is part of XDrive’s photography learning sessions. Thank you


    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thank you, Raj. Your comment brought a huge smile to my face. Taking your lesson is a great way for me to review what I have known, learn what I didn’t know, and ask questions that I couldn’t find anyone to ask. For each lesson, I gave a lot of thoughts on what I want to shoot, what I want to post, and what questions I have. Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity.
      You were right about using manual focus for those diving photos. “Manual anything” gives me an impression of complicated, cumbersome, slow, extra work… 😉 So while I am in a hurry situation, I would almost always go for the auto mode. Now, after reading your comment, I do have a different feeling toward “manual focus”. You were so right. Using manual focus, actually, saves time in this situation. I definitely will consider using manual focus more often in the future. Thanks.
      Also, while taking that diving photo, I heard continuous clicking sounds from my husband’s camera and realized the mistake I had made instantly (not using continuous shooting mode). Oh well… now I know better and next time I will be better prepared. 😉
      Good night.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Raj says:

    Reblogged this on XDrive and commented:
    Well, It’s very difficult to explain things with illustration as you are too lazy to do it, but when someone following you does it with perfection! What more you need? 😀 Yes, I could least do a reblog! Please check the post from Helen, if you are in the process of understanding photography. Worth reading.
    Thanks Helen. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Learn Photography – 9 – Focus – XDrive

  5. loisajay says:

    Helen–I think this is an A+ from Raj. YAY!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Helen C says:

      Good morning, Lois. Yeah… finally 😉
      Seriously, learning brings a lot of joy to me. I welcome every learning opportunity and treasure each. Raj is an excellent teacher for me. Some of my teachers couldn’t really understand my questions and sometime they became irritated. Some teachers only teach what they wanted to teach, no more. But Raj is patient and willing to teach us anything he knows. I am happy learning.
      Do you play piano? I just bought an adult beginning book…CDEFG..CDEFG… I am having a lot of fun 😉
      Have a great day.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. restlessjo says:

    I love that you are happy to learn and experiment to get the results you want, Helen. I think there needs to be soul too. And you have that 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Edward Tan says:

    I like the pictures of …..errr…..what’s the English of 毛筆….are they called calligraphy brush??

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Good work, Helen. I actually like the blur in the first image. Gives it a feeling of mystery and uncertainty. And as you point out, the dark background enhances the sunshine on the flower.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Otto. I like the first image better, too. Before I saw that photo on my PC, I was a little upset because I F/13 wouldn’t give me the result I wanted (I didn’t really want F/13), and I was surprise that it did.
      I am more familiar with my camera and less afraid of trying, that’s for sure 😉
      Have a wonderful day.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Lady Oscar says:

    great observation!
    those boys (photos as well) were amazing…
    yes, gear matters. just like the piano… different piano creates different results; pianists all have their own favorite pianos, the touch, the sound, the react, the vibration, … ^^

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Good morning, Lady Oscar.
      Ah, what you said about piano makes a lot of sense. Those “… the touch, the sound, the react, the vibration…” are exactly what I was trying to say about the shutter release button 😉
      I bought a beginner piano book (for adults) recently. So far my husband haven’t complained about repeating CDEFG yet. ha.
      Have a great day.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Learn Photography – Review – September – XDrive

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