How to Handle the Competition

Competing for Attention by Jann Alexander © 2015
Competing for Attention by Jann Alexander © 2015

When your photo subjects clamor for attention, you’ll have to make a choice: only one can have the camera’s full adoration. The flower with the most visual interest wins, but how to demonstrate your choice to your viewer? There’s an easy tool at hand in most cameras, even the basic point-and-shoots. It’s called depth of field, and you can access it by selecting Aperture-Priority from your automated settings.

Aperture-Priority lets you choose the most wide open aperture and pre-focus on the chosen one to gain the most clarity and best exposure; the shutter speed will be determined automatically, and will most likely be (almost) fast enough for a speeding bullet, so you can shoot moving subjects, as well as still. Counterintuitively, the most wide open aperture, or f-stop, is actually the smallest numerically—in this case, 5.6 using my macro setting, which has a small range from f 3.5-5.6—plenty wide enough to throw the immediate background out of focus, and bring the eye’s attention to the yellow-tinged red geranium’s intricate center pattern, with its bonus raindrops.

When you’re shooting wide-angle or normal (and not macro), you’ll have an even wider range to play with; depending on your lens, you could be able to open up your aperture as wide as f 1.4 (sweet!). You’ll want to cover your shot by bracketing a few different f-stops, like 1.4, 1.7, 2.0, 3.5, perhaps even 5.6, and by varying your proximity to your subject, to find the depth of focus you prefer.

That’s all it takes—that one simple choice will provide depth and a focal point to your photos.  Tweet:

Shot with my Canon Rebel XSi with its EF-S 18-55 lens in macro setting on a rain-soaked day in South Harpswell, Maine; with inspiration from the Daily Post’s close up challenge. For more iPhoneography tips and tricks, click HERE. 

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7 thoughts on “How to Handle the Competition

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  1. Really great tips! I think a lot of the time people (me included) want to pack as much in to a photo as possible but really sometimes we should be working on what the viewer will see, and how to maximise the detail in one area. Great post!

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