Brushing in Some Sharpness

April 02, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Last month, I attended the Out of Chicago Winter Conference. During this photography conference, a few hours were set aside for the conference participants to shoot various subjects. Several photographers congregated around many of the flowers that were on display.

One of the photography decisions to make when shooting these orchids is to select an aperture. Like many of the photographers, I wanted a narrow depth of field. It's a challenge selecting an aperture in which the front orchid is in sharp focus while the other flowers drop out of focus. If I went with a wide aperture, the front flower wasn't in focus enough for my liking. But if I narrowed the aperture, the background became too sharp.

Here's how I solved this problem. I used two apertures! I used the extremely narrow aperture of f/20 to ensure that the front orchid is entirely in focus. Then, I used a nearly wide open aperture (f/4.2) to allow the background to drop out of focus and become less distracting. This approach involved taking two exposures--one at each aperture:

Then, I layered these two frames in Photoshop:

Note that the f/4.2 layer is my base and that the f/20 exposure is placed on a layer above that. From there, I painted in the f/20 sharpness (white reveals, black conceals) on the mask to the right of the f/20 layer. The end result is that the front orchid is sharp at f/20 while the remainder of the image is soft at f/4.2. In my mind, I ended up with the best of both worlds!

Here's the final photograph:

OrchidsOrchidsPink and yellow orchids at the Out of Chicago Winter Conference at the University Center of the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois on February 18, 2017


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