Posted on November 10, 2013
This photo was taken at the New York Botanical Gardens in The Bronx, and it turned out far better than I imagined it before I pressed the shutter button. The colors flow together in a way that I can’t really describe, and the image itself conveys s feeling of serenity when I look at it. It was shot with a Canon 85mm f1.2 lens with the aperture wide open with the focus point right in the center of the flower.
This is one of the first photos that made me love the concept of “shooting wide open”. I’m a complete sucker for background blur (bokeh) and pulling the subject out of the photo (subject isolation). The only way to do this is to learn to shoot with large apertures (smaller f numbers). One of the key points (of which there are many) about shooting wide open is that the classic focus-recompose method that most hobbyist photographers use won’t cut it. The depth of field is so incredibly narrow when your aperture is wide open, especially with a lens like the 85mm f1.2, that any movement during the shot will blur your focus point. At an aperture of 1.2, almost nothing is truly in focus anyway, and if you move to recompose, you are guaranteed to miss the focus.
With wide open shots, it’s critically important to anticipate the composition of your shot beforehand, change your focus point from the default center position to a more peripheral location that corresponds to the position of your subject within your planned composition, and then take your shot with as little movement as possible. Brace yourself up against a wall or a tree whenever possible, or use a tripod if you absolutely need to get the shot. It’s a more involved process than focus-recompose, but it’s the only way to get crisp focus on your subject when shooting wide open.