Selective Focus

Selective focus is one of the most valuable creative tools at your disposal, allowing you to isolate or feature various parts of your composition. For example, by throwing the background out of focus, you can place emphasis on the subject in the foreground. The techniques of selective focus, using depth-of-field (the amount of the image that is in relatively sharp focus), should be familiar to every photographer.

• Use longer lenses, which inherently have less depth-of-field, to give yourself great control over what's in focus and what is not.

• Move in close to take advantage of the reduced depth-of-field at near range.

• Use larger lens openings to reduce the amount of depth-of-field.

• Use manual shutter speed settings or the aperture priority mode of your camera to allow use of those larger lens openings.

• Filters, slower films or ISO settings, and other aids can help control the lens opening you use and, thus, the amount of depth-of-field you're working with.

• Learn the dynamics of focus, such as how two-thirds of the depth-of-field at any particular distance and lens opening is applied to the area behind your subject, and only one-third to the area in front of it.

• Preview the amount of area in focus using your single lens reflex camera's depth-of-field preview, or your digital camera's LCD screen.

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