Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Eye-Popping Focus

here I come...

These photos are a great example of one of the effects of selective focus: that of seeming to bring things nearer. The effect is so strong in the last image you could almost class it as an optical illusion.

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/20s  ISO-1600  PrAP  EV 0  120mm
In this first shot the pillar and the priest (let's call him a priest) with his wall support backing are about the same width as we look at them.

Our brain therefore wants to tell us that they are an equal distance from us. The sharpness of the pillar, however, gives us the extra information we need, along with the fact that the priest seems to be attached to a wall which disappears behind the pillar, to tell us that he is probably further from us than the pillar, which is indeed the case. Oh, and the difference in height - the pillar seems to be towering over us - another clue...

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/25s  ISO-1600  PrAP  EV 0  120mm
In the second image, not only is the pillar noticably bigger than the priest, but his is much fuzzier, making the pillar seem much closer to us, which is, again, the case.

Finally, though, and this is the tricky one, comes image three, below.

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/30s  ISO-1600  PrAP  EV 0  120mm
Not only are the left-hand column and the priest+support about the same size, but the priest is now much sharper than the pillar. And tell me if it doesn't look like he's closer to you than the pillar, at least a bit as you flit your eyes back and forth between the two.

The effect is especially strong when looking at the priest where the pillar seems to turn into some sort of distant wallpaper. The effect doesn't work perfectly because the motifs on the pillar are too big to be distant wallpaper and the light modelling belies the fact that it's a pillar and not a flat wall behind the priest. But it's disquieting nonetheless.

The moral of the story? There isn't one really, just that you need to be careful with what you place in focus and it can be used to powerfully 'pull forward' items you want to draw people's attention to, or vice versa to blur out unwanted detail, and should be too!

P.S. For your info, all of these images are straight conversions from the RAW to JPGs with no fiddling whatsoever. Thank you.

And why not...

* Sab Will runs Photo and Curios Tours in Paris, and also manages a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. He writes an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, runs a Meetup group for Paris lovers, interviews Paris personalities and reviews Paris books (on this blog), and even contributes to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what he gets up to out there...

© 2012 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

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