A way of Seeing

Although this section and its five projects are optional I do want to attempt them as best as I can, however, due to my progress, I may well have to leave them until time allows me to complete them, to that end don’t assume that all the sections & projects that follow this are not complete, I may well skip one because I have a certain subject in mind for a particular project.

project 1: focal lenth and angle of view

As this is the first project, one would think that it would be quiet simple.. well the practical side was, however, to fully understand what the theory & technical aspects behind this exercise was I need to conduct some further reading, after reading a number of articles I was becoming more confused than when I started, this was mainly to do with the explanations being over complicated and lacking in diagrams, I eventually picked out small sections from different materials and have come up with my own explanations of focal length and angle of view;

diagram displaying long & short focal lengths and thier narrow & wide angles of view

diagram displaying long & short focal lengths and their narrow & wide angles of view

1.    The focal length is the distance from the lens’s optical centre to the images sensor (or film if you were shooting wet).

2.    The focal length is usually measured in mm.

3a.    The longer the focal length, the narrower the angle of view, but what you do gain is a larger, zoomed in, blown up version of the centre of the image with cropping around the edges, the longer the focal length the greater the zoom, the greater the cropping of the scene.

3b.    The shorter the focal length, the wider the angle of view, but size reduction of the subject with it.
To explain this formula it would be easier to relate it to everyday exercises such as sitting in a chair in front of a window, imagine the glass being the lens and your eyes being the sensor (or film), (the area between both is the focal length) the closer you move to the glass (the smaller the focal length) the more you can see through (outside) the frame giving you a wider angle of view. The further away from the window you sit (the greater the focal length) the narrower the view. go and try it!

With my Camera, the Nikon D60, I use 2 different Lenses, a 18-55mm and a 55-200mm, both these lenses are equivalent to approximately 1.5x the focal length in 35mm format

Bearing all that in mind I had to go and conduct project 1: so off i went.. bag on back i set off to find an interesting  scene (one with a number of features and lines so i could compare them back at home, this brought me to Chicksands Priory not too much of a walk from home. My first task was to set the camera onto the tripod in order to try and get an accurate reading of what this exercise was going to show.  With my 55-200mm set at 55mm i looked through the viewfinder keeping the other eye open… sure enough between 50 & 55m focal length through the view finder appeared equal in size looking at the scene unaided. I have yet to go back to this location with printed versions to compare them with the real scene.. to be continued (I ve got to pay the bills somehow).

Although this next part was not in the project, i went along with it for my own confirmation and understanding. Both my lenses have focal markings on them so i took a picture at each focal length marking (18, 24, 35, 45 & 55mm) you can clearly see the results below:

taken with a focal length of 18mm

taken with a focal length of 18mm

taken with a focal length of 24mm

taken with a focal length of 24mm

taken with a focal length of 35mm

taken with a focal length of 35mm

taken with a focal length of 45mm

taken with a focal length of 45mm

taken with a focal length of 55mm

taken with a focal length of 55mm

project 2: focus with a set aperture

diagram showing f stops relating to aperture openings

diagram showing f stops relating to aperture openings

So for this project I had to go and find a scene, that had some depth, and take a number of images (2-3), focused on something at a different distances, Then once processed, compare them:

viewing both images it was very easy to realise that the eye was drawn to the sharp areas of the image this became the focal point of the image, although the eye tended to look elsewhere searching for other detail if only for a short time.. it always returned to the sharp areas

Looking at the two images side by side it did not take me long to choose a favorite from the two (Image 1), why did i choose this? first of all if you look at image 2 the area of the image that is sharp is quite vast and my eyes tended to follow up and down the line of vehicles looking for the reason for the picture, leaving the viewer some what confused of the focal point, this particular image does not draw my eyes towards the photographer in the wing mirror and if the viewer was to look in that area of the image it could be still unclear of what that was (it could easily be mistaken as some one drinking from a black cup).  Where as in image 1  the viewer is instantly drawn to the in-focus area of image, and the eye is drawn into a very tight area leaving the viewer in no doubt of what they should be looking at. Now I understand that the purpose of this, is draw the viewers eye to the subject, however, in this image after identifying the main subject one would start to question what is he taking pictures of, drawing the into the out of focus areas of the image (keeping the viewers attention longer, (is that not what we want to achieve?) the back drop to the image, to some extent, can still be made out from the wheel arch of the van, this would then present the image taker with future factors of to what degree of  un-sharpness is acceptable?

aperture:  f4 shutter:  1/200  focal length: 55mmFig 1     aperture: f4 shutter: 1/200 focal length: 55mm ISO: 100

apature: f4   shutter: 1/200   focal length:  55mm   ISO: 100

Fig 2 aperture: f4 shutter: 1/200 focal length: 55mm ISO: 100

re-visited: So as i said earlier…, “as and when i come up with new thoughts i would come back”, so since starting this course i have purchased a new lens, i say new, its secondhand and its old 1986 i believe it was first released, the 50mm AF NIKKOR f1.8, this lens will not auto focus on my D60, so all focusing is done manually. to couple that the manual aperture selection dial will not work either on this camera, due to fittings, so i need to stop it down to f22, this will then depress a small catch that will allow me to adjust my f stops through the camera. after playing with this lens for a short while i discovered my Depth of Field DOP options just opened up a whole new world, with my previous lens i was Struggling to achieve extreme changes over a short distance, that has all changed now as you can see with my images below:

this image i focused on the first coin

DSC_0004

this image i focused on the second coin

DSC_0005

this image i focused on the third coin

DSC_0006

all these images were taken with the fixed 50mm and all with an aperture setting of 2.8. Each coin is set apart by 2 inches, and the difference of what is and what is not in focus is remarkable over this short distance. Now my father used to say “Paddy a bad workman always blames his tools” well he wasn’t often (if ever) wrong, there is another saying, however, “you can only work with the tools you have got”.

project 3: to be completed

project 4: to be completed

project 5: to be completed

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