Find a subject in front of a background with depth. Take a close viewpoint and zoom in; you’ll need to be aware of the minimum focusing distance of your lens. Focus on the subject and take a single shot. Then, without changing the focal length, set the focus to infinity and take a second shot.
The closer you are to the subject, the shallower the depth of field; the further from the subject, the deeper the depth of field. That’s why macro shots taken from very close viewpoints have extremely shallow depth of field, and if you set the focus at infinity everything beyond a certain distance will be in focus.
As you review the two shots, how does the point of focus structure the composition? With a shallow depth of field the point of focus naturally draws the eye, which goes first of all to the part of the image that’s sharp. It generally feels more comfortable if the point of focus is in the foreground, although there’s nothing wrong with placing the point of focus in the background.
The subject for this exercise was an exhibition held at the Turner Contemporary. I thought that this would make an interesting subject as it has depth of field within the sculpture and can be photographed at a close distance. I used a prime lens because it works well with this exercise. The lens I selected was a 50mm f1.4.
I reviewed the two shots and I feel that the point of focus works best with image one. The foreground being sharp and the background soft, which feels comfortable to view.
The opposite can be said of the second image and it is confusing looking at the image as the foreground being out of focus suggesting that there is something there but the brain cannot work out what exactly it is. Only when you view the first image do you realise what is ‘missing’. Personally it is something that I would not choose to do for a straight shot of course that is not to say that I would not consider this style or approach for other images.