The Incidentals

Photo tips, take better details shots


I do take a lot of care and pride in photographing the “detail shots” and think they are great memory triggers, “it had rained all the day before”, “my flowers were so fresh”, “the Sun did come out”, “it stayed dry all day and then the heavens opened!”. I try to use them as punctuation / chapter breaks to help a series of photographs tell the story of the day.

Here is a collection of thoughts/tips on getting great detail shots I hope that other photographers might find useful:

If you develop your feel for a good composition creating detail shots you’ll better manage good compositions when people are moving and you have a second to arrange the elements of a scene within the frame.

Focus with care

It isn’t as easy to get simple compositions perfect. If the focus is a little off where the eye expects it then the image will look out of focus even if somewhere it is sharp (just like when you take a portrait you don’t generally want a sharp nose tip and blurry eyes). In the past I often used magnified liveview on the Canon cameras but being able to use a very small and accurate focus point anywhere in the frame on my Sony A7RII is fantastic.
“Focus and recompose” is not recommended.

Work with the light / colour elements in a scene

Getting a feel for what elements in a scene your eye is drawn to (when everything appears to the eye more or less in equal focus) will make the image sing when only that part of the image is in focus. Don’t fight the viewer and try to force them to look at the front edge of a pie when there is a lovely slice to focus on. A red raspberry demands to be in the plane of focus.

Lens choice I like to use a Canon 35L f1.4 lens at apertures of f1.4 to f2 on a full frame camera. Its a look someone shooting a whole wedding day with a 25-105/4 zoom lens can’t get close to.
Half of these are taken with the Zeiss 55mm f1.8 lens, which blurs the background in a beautiful way while giving you perfect sharpness anywhere you choose in the frame. Being able to make the first line of drinks disappear into a pretty foreground effect is something only a wide aperture lens can do.

Background blur isn’t a cure all.

Lastly even with blurred backgrounds the placement of other elements in the scene affects the balance of the composition.

Posted on June 27th, 2016

Photographs taken around Worsley Village, Manchester

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