Month: August 2016

Exercise 2.7

This exercise was shot with a 35mm wide-angle lens on a full frame camera. The lens was set at an aperture of f/16, one stop below the minimum aperture of f/22. The shots were all made with the camera set at aperture priority at moderate ISO levels of 800 to 1600. This resulted in shutter speeds of 1/100s to 1/40s, which were sufficient to ensure sharp pictures thanks to all the scenes primarily having static objects and the camera being equipped with a shake reduction system.


Picture 1


Picture 2 – First choice


Picture 3


Picture 4

Focusing was in the benches towards the middle of the pier, allowing the boards, screws and plates in front and the buildings at the back to be in focus. My chosen picture of the sequence is number 2 because this shows more detail in the foreground has the less cluttered sky and sea elements. All pictures are equally sharp.


Picture 5


Picture 6 – First choice


Picture 7


Picture 8

Focusing was on the rim of the canal towards the middle of the frame. All the pictures show good sharpness and detailed foreground and background, but my chosen one would be picture number 6 as this does not include the highlight patch in  the top left corner (I wanted to frame this out) and has less movement blur from the birds in the background.


Exercise 2.6

For this exercise I walked around with a 100mm macro lens on a full frame camera. The first sequence was of a spider making a web. For this I used an aperture of f/4 (one stop down from the maximum aperture of f/2.8) and set the ISO at 400, giving fast shutter speeds ranging between 1/1000s and 1/1600s, enough to freeze the motion of the spider.  The camera was set on aperture priority. Here is the sequence


Picture 1


Picture 2 – First choice


Picture 3


Picture 4 – Second choice

The spider was going in circles around the web and I wanted to frame it against a light background for maximum contrast while showing part of the web against the dark blurred background as an additional detail. My first choice was the second picture because of the position of the spider, with spread legs. The close second choice was the final picture, where most of the animal is in focus but the legs are not as nicely spread as in picture 2.

The second sequence is of a flower against greenery background. I used the same 100mm macro lens as in the first sequence but set the aperture at f/2.8 this time to maximize the background blur. The camera was set at aperture priority with an ISO of 800. This gave a relatively fast shutter speed of 1/400s which was needed to avoid motion blur from windy conditions at the time. Here is the sequence


Picture 5


Picture 6 – First choice


Picture 7

The background is slightly busy but I find it complements the vivid colours of the flower very well. Of the three pictures, number 6 is the better one in terms of sharpness at the centre of the flower and consequently it is my chosen one.

Exercise 2.5

For this exercise I used a standard 50mm prime lens on a full frame sensor camera, as I wanted to be relatively close to the forefront object while also showing sufficient elements of the background. I focused as close as possible and used a very wide aperture of f/2. The camera was set at aperture priority and ISO was fixed at the base level of 100. Focus was done manually.


Picture 1 – Focus on front object


Picture 2 – Focus moved to infinity

Both shots have their problems. In picture 1, the background has been nicely blurred and the eye goes immediately to the lens picture in the forefront, but the highlight areas of the background create a distraction and the eye tends to move there. In picture 2, the wide aperture and the significant distance between forefront and the lens infinity setting has created a very distracting blur. Out of the two pictures, the first one is more pleasant to look at, but that does not mean that we should always strive for sharp or detailed foregrounds. Depending on the position and shape of the objects in the foreground, foreground blur can provide a nice leading path towards a distant sharp subject, as shown in this old picture by myself.

From afar

(c) 2012 by Jose Souto





Exercise 2.4

For this exercise, I placed the subject in front of a bookshelf at a distance of about 10 to 12 feet. A 60mm prime, equivalent to 90mm in full frame, was used at the widest possible aperture of f/2.4. The camera was set at aperture priority at base ISO of 200. A flash was bounced off the ceiling to create fill light. Focus was on the subject eyes, which were some 4 feet in front of the camera.


Compared with the wide-angle shot in exercise 2.3, in this one there is no significant distortion and what is visible of the shoulders seem to be in the correct proportion to her head. The wide aperture creates a nice a clear separation between the head and the background, which is distinctly blurred. This is also in contrast with the picture of exercise 2.3, which in spite of also having been taken at the widest possible aperture, shows foreground and background details which are not clearly out of focus.

Exercise 2.3

This exercise was done at the same location as in exercise 2.2 and with the same subject. The lens used was a 14mm prime, equivalent to 21mm in a full frame camera. The lens was set at its widest apeture and the shot was made in aperture priority at the camera’s base ISO of 200. A flash was used pointing upwards to provide fill light.


14mm (equiv 21mm)

The focus point was in her eyes. The lines of the ceiling provide a nice pair of diagonal leading lines pointing at her body, which in this occassion looks distorted by the choice of focal lenght and low point of view, with her shoulders looking disproportionally larger than her head. I was focusing with the central point of the frame and did not recompose the shot, as I also wanted to include some of the background, but I believe the distortion effect on her body would have been accentuated by shooting on portrait to include more of her, perhaps even up to her hands. The chin up and the face looking towards the horizon combine to create an aura of magnificence that would not be achieved if the subject was looking straight at the camera.

Exercise 2.2

For this exercise, I used the camera in aperture priority with the widest possible aperture. Flash was used to fill the light on the subject’s face. Two prime lenses were used, one moderate telephoto – a 60mm macro which was equivalent to 90mm in full frame – and an extreme wide-angle – a 14mm equivalent to 21mm in full frame. I tried to frame the subject in the same way between shoots, but the lighting from the fill flash was slightly different in both pictures. The pictures were taken in a corridor inside my house.


60mm (equiv 90mm)


14mm (equiv 21mm)













In the 60mm picture, only the front door of the house is visible and there are almost no details of the corridor itself. In the 14mm picture, you can see a lot more of detail of the background, including the corridor walls and a bathroom door to the right. I was expecting a more marked difference in the rendering of the subject from the telephoto lens to the wide-angle, but there are no significant differences in the proportions. The face features in the wide-angle look slightly more prominent, particularly the nose and the forehead, but I am not sure how much this was the consequence of the slightly different pose and lighting. Other than through the background, it is not too obvious to tell the differences between the two shots in terms of focal length.

Exercise 2.1

The following sequence of shots were taken with four different prime lenses ranging from extreme wide-angle to moderate telephoto – 14mm, 18mm, 27mm and 60mm. The camera has an APS-C sensor, so the focal lengths are approximately equivalent to 21mm, 27mm 40.5mm and 90mm in a 35mm film system. The photos were all taken on aperture priority at f/8 and with a fixed ISO of 400. Exposure compensation of -2 was applied to reduce the burnout of some highlight areas to the right.


Picture 1 – 14mm (equiv. 21mm)


Picture 2 – 18mm (equiv. 27mm)


Picture 3 – 27mm (equiv. 40.5mm)


Picture 4 – 60mm (equiv. 90mm)

The sequence appears as if we were zooming into the dark spot at the centre of the frame, or walking towards it, but the proportion of and relationship between the different elements in the frame do not change. Picture 3 is the one closest to human vision in terms of object scale, but not on field of view, which is probably wider and is likely to be between pictures 1 and 2.