Focal Length and Depth of Field

There is a long-standing myth in photography that focal length has an impact on the depth of field in your scene. I know this myth is long-standing because it’s what I was taught, and it is what I have, in turn, been teaching. In fact, early editions of Complete Digital Photography included this very myth. However, with a simple experiment, you can demonstrate that focal length has no impact on actual depth of field.

However, before you start dreading the need to relearn a bunch of old habits, stop. While the theory that has been taught for the last 150 years or so might have been technically incorrect, the practical upshot has been completely valid. So, this article is not so much about changing your hands-on technique. Rather, it’s simply presented to offer you a more accurate explanation of what actually happens to depth of field when you choose one focal length over another. Your everyday practice—using longer lenses to get apparently shallower depth of field—will still apply, but after reading this article, you might have a different understanding of why the depth of field appears different with different focal lengths.

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January 26-28: Fine Art Printing Workshop in San Francisco

If you’ve ever tried to print a digital photo, then you know that an image that looks good on-screen won’t necessarily look good on paper. In this three-day, intensive workshop—from January 26-28—you’ll learn how to get great-looking prints from an inkjet photo printer. Through lecture, demonstration, and lots of hands-on work, Ben Long will guide you through the process of editing your images for print. In addition, you’ll learn about configuring printer drivers, using color management tools, and choosing a printer and paper. Most importantly, you’ll begin the process of developing an eye for image analysis and print aesthetics. Though this isn’t a shooting class, you’ll have some time for shooting in beautiful San Francisco, and we’ll devote a little class time to image evaluation and group critique. If you’re unsatisfied with the quality of your digital prints, and frustrated by how much paper and ink you consume to get a good print, then this is the workshop for you.

Photoshop Automator Actions for Photoshop CC 2018

The Photoshop Automator Action Pack has been updated for Photoshop CC 2018, and you can buy the latest version at RobotPhotoshop.com. This is a collection of Automator Actions that allow you to drive Photoshop from Apple’s Automator on Mac OS X. If you’ve never used Automator before, it provides a simple, drag and drop mechanism for creating complex automated workflows. Of course, Photoshop has its own Actions built-in actions facility, but Automator lets you build automations that include other applications, in addition to Photoshop. What’s more, with the Photoshop Automator Action Pack you can build workflows that include branching logic – different operations can be applied to different images based on their size, orientation, bit depth and more. If you’d like to experiment with Automator, a free version of the Photoshop Automator Action Pack is also available at RobotPhotoshop.com along with lots of tutorial videos.

Easy Tiny Planet video

Yesterday I mounted the Ricoh Theta on my motorcycle’s handlebars and went for a spin with a friend. The Theta software has a built-in Tiny Planets feature that is very fun. Sadly, it only outputs a final product that’s 640 pixels wide, but given that it’s a 2-button solution to create this effect, I’m still impressed! Read more »

Recognizing Tonal Potential

Very often, good photos are the result of a photographer being able to recognize the potential in a scene, and very often that potential is one based around manipulating tone. Learning to develop an eye for tone will not only allow you to get better shots, it will open up a realm of subject matter that you may not normally recognize. For example, consider this shot:
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Exercising at Home

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After finishing up a ten-day job last week I came to Oklahoma to visit my parents. Tired from the previous week-and-a-half of shooting, and not wanting to think any more about images, I spent a couple of days ignoring my camera. But, with each day bringing nice afternoon light, I quickly began to worry about falling out of practice. I didn’t feel up to getting out for any kind of big shooting expedition and didn’t have any need for particular kinds of images so I decided that simply doing some exercises was all I needed. It’s often difficult to have a fresh eye in a well-known environment, so goal-driven, exercise-oriented shooting can often get you capturing frames in places where you normally feel there’s nothing to shoot.

Read on for more details about the exercise that I tasked myself with.

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Finding a Lighter Camera

Ow. I’ve been having a lot of pain in my left shoulder lately. It might just be age, but I can’t help thinking that all these years of carrying a camera bag on that shoulder have left me messed up. The years of having a pound of bird riding on that shoulder probably didn’t help either.

 

Years of camera bags and a shoulder-mounted bird have left me with a lot of shoulder pain. Hence the need for a lighter camera.

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WordPress or Squarespace – Which Is Best For Photographers

This site has been running off of WordPress for years – since way back at WordPress version 1 – and hasn’t had a re-design since WordPress 2 was released. Recently, I encountered Squarespace while helping a friend put a site together. I was very impressed by Squarespace’s ease-of-use, beautiful designs and thorough feature set. Seeing Squarespace also made me realize that my own site was looking very dated, so I decided it was time to bring completedigitalphotography.com into the modern web era. This posed an immediate quandary: should I stick with WordPress or migrate to Squarespace? Which, I wondered, was best for a photo site?

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Wondering about Polaroid?

On The Practicing Photographer this week, I talk to fashion photographer Troy Word about his use of Polaroid. Along the way, he brings us up-to-date on where the current state of Polaroid is, how you can easily get into Polaroid gear, how to mix it with digital, and what you can expect to spend along the way. Most importantly, he speaks to how it can change the way your photographic eye works. You can watch it right here.

A month in Mongolia with an iPad photo workflow

This summer, for some reason, a friend and I drove a tiny Fiat Panda from London to Mongolia. Though I have a 13″ MacBook Air, I decided to take my iPad with me on the trip instead of a “real” computer. I also took a good amount of photography gear, which meant that the iPad had to support a fairly full photo workflow. This article details how I made it work, and what I found I could and couldn’t do. The good news is that, if you manage your expectations, and grab the right apps, you can run an effective post-production workflow directly from your iPad.