Back Modifications (1)
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Bare tree

By dunda66
I am playing with focus and out of focus shots here. Still very new to using a DSLR. 70-300 lens

Tags: Landscape and travel Wildlife and nature

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


Focus_Man 8 481 631 United Kingdom
9 Jan 2013 9:49AM
A good effort David but just a few points that come to mind from my personal perspective. You have used differential focussing here to show the front tree to good effect, but I feel that there should have been some more space between the front and back trees - laterally, perhaps the main tree to the left and the others to the right. Secondly the problem with differential focussing using maximum aperture, is that your focussing needs to be precise whereas here nothing is in focus at all; the closest being the top of the near tree.

Your shutter speed is fine for the FL and the DoF at f4.8 with a 180mm lens should be around 40ft (I am guessing your distance) so why this is is confusing.

I think I might also have looked for a better mainteined tree for my main subject as this one appears to have been treated by a wood butcher. It is always preferable to look for a photogenic tree.


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banehawi Plus
13 1.8k 3880 Canada
9 Jan 2013 5:04PM
Welcome to EPZ David.

I will provide a link at the end that will provide all you need to know about depth of field, aperture. focal lengths etc. and the site will allow you to enter your camera, lens ans settings and see what changes occur.

As Frank says, the tree, more of a stick really, is fuzzy. This either means you did not focus on it properly, or that when you re sized the image and saved it, you didnt open the new file, check for sharpness, and apply as needed, - which must always be done.

I did that in my mod (scroll up and click the modifications tab), and though its sharper, is not very sharp.

First suggestion is that you check you manual and learn how to use just ONE focus point, rather than all the 9 or 11 that may be available, and place that focus point on your subject. Its very easy to select a single point, - and when you read the manual you can see.

Heres the link:

Enjoy the site.


Davesumner 11 28 300 Australia
10 Jan 2013 2:42AM
Hi David,

Welcome to EPZ and especially to the Critique area. As you have seen by the two comments above, you will get some great advice here but if you do find it good advice, don't forget to nominate it as 'good critique' as I have done with them.

Just to elaborate a little more on Frank and Willies comments above in regards to sharpness, I don't see anything sharp in the entire image. Now this could be for a number of reasons but one thing to watch out for is the use of focussing modes and focus points. Now i'm not sure with Nikon cameras because they all seem to be different to me but you will get best results from a shot like this if you are in a non dynamic focussing mode such as AF-S. I believe the D40 has a new AF-A focus setting as well but I'm not sure how that works. What this means is that when you half press the shutter, it locks in the focus and it stays locked as long as you keep the shutter half pressed. However, if your camera is using multiple focus points you will find that it may focus on something closer than the tree and make the tree blurred which you obviously don't want. To avoid this and to take control of what is happening, I always use a single focus point (usually the centre one) to ensure that what I focus on is what I want sharp. Once you focus on the tree, as long as you half press the shutter, it won't matter where you point the camera, the tree will be sharp.

now if you are attempting to blur the background in your messing around with focus, this is controlled by the aperture of the lens with the focal length, distance to subject and distance from subject to background all playing their part in how this works. This is covered in depth of field and expalnations of this can be found all over the internet.

I hope this helps

paulbroad 10 123 1244 United Kingdom
10 Jan 2013 6:49PM
All relevant stuff above and you may have failed to focus on your subject, but you must recognise blur. It ruins more images than anything else. This may be a focus issue, but I'm pretty sure there is some movement blur in there too. Hand holding a lens at 180 mm, which is probably actually 250, is not easy at 1/250. Support for the camera should be used with longer lenses whenever possible. Tripod, monopod, wall top....

11 Jan 2013 7:11AM
Thank you all. Photography very new to me and first time I have owned a camera that does more than 'point and shoot'. Lot to learn!! and fun to be had.

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