Focus at different apertures

Looking for something different for this exercise I found 2 scenes that I thought worthy;  moored boats and some old railway wagons parked in a siding both of which I thought contain enough detail to pick out the sharpness limits and could be viewed at an angle.  I first photographed the boats but when I reviewed the shots in camera I could not see with any degree of clarity the effect being sought so I reverted to the railway wagons as it was a more compact scene and had a row of terraced houses behind which I thought might add value; the result was not what I expected or hoped for and I am finding it hard to get my head around the result insomuch as the sharpness limits are not well defined.  My selected apertures were; f2.8; f8; f22; the camera was tripod mounted and I used a remote release.  I went a bit off piste for me in that I went into manual mode. The focus point was the front wheel of the flat wagon behind the green tank wagon ie 5th wagon from the right.

1/320 sec at f2.8

1/320 sec at f2.8

1/80 sec at f8

1/80 sec at f8

1/10 sec at f22

1/10 sec at f22

In the first instance I was disappointed with the sharpness around the focus point at f2.8 and wonder whether this is the effect of the low contrast as the camera was set to single focus point, but I did not detect any evidence of the autofocus hunting.  However, the theory of shallow depth of field is demonstrated with the foreground and background out of focus.  At f8 there is a distinct improvement in sharpness as evidenced by the rail tracks in the foreground, the houses in the background and the wagons either side of the focus point.  The final shot at f22, whilst not looking too much different from the shot at f8, shows a considerable difference to that at f2.8 with the majority of the shot in focus.

In terms of my preference, I go for the shot at f22. I chose the scene for the variety of wagons, their shapes, sizes colours and construction and the detail in the tracks.  As such, I wish to see as much in sharp focus as possible; the fact that it is taken at an angle does not allow for the isolation of the wagons from the other elements in the scene.

The prints I made are not too good and do little to boost morale; I suspect the paper quality does not help!

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Focus with a set aperture

Having decided to find a subject other than the ubiquitous row of cars I tried a couple of scenes.  The first attempt was to place 3 numbered marker poles along a lane but I found this did not illustrate the effect to my satisfaction.  Attempt 2 was a scene I noticed whilst out walking, a boardwalk through a wood which had good depth and had coach bolts in the handrail thus providing good reference points.

DSC_5177 - Shot 1

For the first picture I focussed on the near upright post on the left. Shot taken with 28-70mm lens at 31mm, ISO 200, 1/250 sec at f2.8.

DSC_5178 - Shot 2

Second picture I focussed on the next post along on the left. Shot taken with 28-70mm lens at 31mm, ISO 200, 1/250 sec at f2.8.

DSC_5179 - Shot 3

In the final picture I focussed on the third upright on the left.  Shot taken with 28-70mm lens at 31mm, ISO 200, 1/125 sec at f2.8.

The first photograph draws the eye to the nearest uprights as they are in sharp focus but in this scene I feel my brain is being confused.  The boardwalk draws me into the picture yet so much is out of focus I find it very uncomfortable to look at.  In the second shot there is more of a balance between the foreground and background but still I am drawn to what is further along the boardwalk; I find this easier to look at than the first.  In the final shot my curiosity is more satisfied as I can make out more of the background detail.  I favour picture 3 as I feel the scene is all about what there may be deeper in the wood and the foreground, whilst giving context, is not as important and, as such, not where I want the focus to be; certainly my brain seems happier computing this final image.