Infinity vs. Hyperfocal Distance

In the example above, the focus point is simply set to infinity – the photographer gives away extra Depth Of Field, since the DOF goes way past infinity at f16 with these settings. With the hyperfocal distance setting, the photographer gets the greatest depth of field out of the lens…

Here the photographer uses the hyperfocal distance to get the most possible DOF in his shot: the focus is set in a way, that the distance scale lines up at infinity and f16. Note, how the DOF increases by almost 100% to the left with this setting.

the hyperfocal setting makes a lot of sense when infinity focus and maximum foreground focus are desired, i.e. landscape

zone focusing (also called scale focusing) is much more practical for , as the photographer works at a close range and infinity focus is not as important

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Zone focusing

With zone focusing can be a life-saver between the decisive moment and a hit-and-miss-shot – toss the autofocus camera and get a manual lens instead…

Zone focusing is pretty straightforward, the photographer simply uses the DOF (Depth Of Field) effect to have the desired object(s) at working distance in focus. Zone focussing comes in handy, when there is no time to fiddle with the camera controls, or when the photographer wants to be extra unconspicious – without using the viewfinder to focus (aka. shooting from the hip).

Once you know what an f-stop is, and how to set it on your camera, you’re good to go. After some time you will get better at guessing distances and you’ll be a master of in no time…
In the illustration above, the aperture (f-stop) is set to f8 and the focus is set to 2m (~7ft). The focus ring also shows f-stop markings to either side of the focus point (DOF scale).

Every f-stop shows a line directly related to a number on the distance scale. In this example everything from 1.5m to 3m (5ft to 12 ft.) will be in focus. This works at any distance and with any lens with DOF markings.

zone focusing is much more practical for than the hyperfocal distance, which simply extends DOF from infinity into the foreground, which is great for landscape. rarely needs to rely on infinity focus and smaller apertures like f8 or f5.6 are more common and a close working distance (hence, also called scale focusing) are more practical.

Another great technique is to learn how to guess distances and using muscle memory in combination with a tabbed lens.

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Photoshop Layer Masks 101

photoshop layer mask tutorial by markus hartel

You can easily create a composition like this from three similar shots using layer masks in Photoshop. Basically, you set up a tripod, take a few single shots of you in different positions and compose the whole thing in Photoshop, using layers and masks…
First, select one of the shots as the main layer of the composition

open the second shot, select all (menu > select > all) and copy (menu > edit > copy)

paste (menu > edit > paste) into the first image, note the additional layer in the first image

create a layer mask by clicking on the marked icon in the layer palette

select the layer mask, choose a fairly large brush and paint with black ink in the mask, note how the bottom image reveals in the painted area – voila, that’s how layer masks work

finish the mask with a smaller brush for good detail. tip: use a brush with a softness that matches the softness of the image to make it look more realistic.

this image illustrates how the finished mask looks, you can activate this visual of a mask in the channels palette. Double click on the icon gives an option for color display and opacity of the mask

now you have the basics of working with Photoshop layer masks, we perfect your skills with a 3rd image, which you paste in the main document.

add a layer mask to the new layer, as before

with a little trick we can save some time and use the old mask from Layer 1 as a base for our new mask. hit the command key and click on the icon of layer mask #1, Photoshop will make an inverted selection of the mask. Invert the selection (menu > select > inverse) and fill (menu > edit > fill) with black ink, make sure Layer 2 mask is selected. see, half of the work is done already.

here again a visual of a half-finished mask

the mask view out of the channels palette

final result

have some fun experimenting with layer masks – one can produce stunning results with a few images. Also, it is possible to use the gradient tool in a mask to blend 2 images, just give it a try!

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How to load a Rolleiflex

The question how to load a Rolleiflex came up in on of the forums I visit, so I illustrated the process and took the chance to bring my photo related tutorials section “live” which I meant to do a while ago…

1. Take the old film spool from the bottom and place it in the take-up compartment

2. Place the film in the bottom of the camera and feed the backing paper under the first metal roll (film feeler)

3. Feed the backing paper trough the slot of the take-up spool

4. Roll the backing paper 2 times around the take-up spool (clockwise)

5. Fix the take-up spool in its compartment – place right side of the spool first and pull the knob on the left out, push the take-up spool in place and let the knob go.
Unfold the film advance crank and advance clockwise, until the arrows line up with the film feeler, close the back

6. Advance the film crank clockwise, until it stops – film counter shows “1”. If the film advances without stopping, you did not feed the film under the “film feeler” roll (2)

7. Reverse film advance crank counterclockwise and fold away. Your Rolleiflex is ready to go

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