Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lines, Composition & Sharpness

Lines of composition at White Pocket
This will be a more technical entry featuring the sandstone wonderland of White Pocket.  I'm still sorting through and picking out the "keepers" from my photo trip there last month.

Sharpness and vignetting are two key photographic characteristic related to aperture.  When setting an aperture, a very small opening such as f/16 tends to reduce vignetting and enhance the depth of field (how much will be sharp and "in focus" whether near or far from the camera).  This attitude of "I'm going to get the maximum depth of field" attitude works well for some and I've used it for years.  This is especially helpful in the corners of a photograph (where sharpness tends to deteriorate).  This problem is pretty exclusive to wide angle lenses.

I changed wide angle lens from Canon's 17-40 f/4 L to the more pricey 16-35 f/2.8 L specifically to get more corner sharpness.  The 16-35 is sharper and I've not regretted the move.  But I still found I'd be shooting at f/16 for the corner sharpness factor even when I could get an outstanding depth of field at a larger aperture.  This approach does work.  I have gotten some great shots.

But there is one problem:  the sharpness in the center of a photograph is usually best at f/8 or f/11.   By shooting f/16, I get the most "in focus" although my central area isn't as sharp as it could be.  This may be hard to appreciate until you see it with your own eyes on a big screen at full resolution.  Or on a  large print.

There is a solution:  a newer, better, sharper lens.

Prime lenses have more sharpness.  Really big primes take sharpness to an extreme.

This shot, taken with the Canon 17mm f/4 L tilt-shift lens has sharpness in the corners and then some!  I shot with an aperture of f/11 for this photo trip and I've found that the sharpness in the center and corners is fantastic.  This lens really delivers!

The above shot was taken with two frames, one shifted slightly lower to include more foreground, and then stitched together.  ISO 100, f/11, 1/80 second.

Compositionally, I used the lines throughout the landscape and in the sky to direct the viewer to the center of the photograph.  The lines sweep in from each corner of the sky and directly from the lower left.  The right side also sends more lines in towards the center.  Hope you like it.

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