A quest for the ultimate, beautiful, meaningful picture

Between f/2.8 and f/64 (2): Mr. 2.8

You can overdo with selective sharpness at f/2.8. Another of my favourite bloggers, Jeffrey Friedl, always uses f/2.8, it seems.
Did I mention Jeffrey Friedl before? No, I did not, I believe. He is an American who lives in Japan, and who is an avid amateur photographer–if he is an amateur, that is. For like a professional he seems to be taking photos full-time, and of everything, though he is especially good at landscapes—Japanese landscapes are good anyway and he makes them even better! He uses f/2.8 to make a subject stand out clearly from the background, and his professional lenses help to make the bokeh especially good: the number of blades in the diaphragm and their curvature seem to play a role in making the gradient from sharp to un-sharp as well as the rendering of un-sharp objects without irritating double contour lines and the like.

I came across Mr. Friedl when I looked for a smart way to upload photos to Flickr from Lightroom, and the official Adobe Lightroom website linked to his plug-in. Jeffrey Friedl proved to be a real Lightroom buff, who published all kinds of upload plug-ins, for all (well, almost all) kinds of photo sites. Once you know the trick, it’s probably not so difficult anymore. Besides, his real profession is in programming. The Flickr upload plug-in was worth all its money (which was not much)–and more! It works really handy, once you have followed the (very clear) download and installation instructions from Mr. Friedl’s site.

As I said, he uses f/2.8 all of the time: check his blog full of photos, under each of which he neatly gives the essential statistics of time, aperture and if you drill down a bit also location(!). If nothing else, you can find a few nice wallpapers among his collection (watch out, that page takes some time to download!). But I wanted to make a little bit of fun of this Mr. 2.8. Once he wanted to take a group picture of a bunch of children and he was frustrated at not getting them all in focus at the same time. The examples he showed a few days before, again gave the statistics: f/2.8 most of the time. In the final one he used f/5. If he had simply gone down a few stops to, say, f/8 (the aperture at which many lenses have their optimum resolution and sharpness), the whole group would have been in focus from the beginning even though kids tend to move a lot more than landscapes—no problem at all! Even good photographers may forget their basics for a moment, sometimes… As long as you remember in the end!

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One response

  1. I think you nailed it in a later post when you wondered whether I'm fanatical about lots of light and thin depth of field. A thin depth of field matches how I think our eyes/brain works…. or, at least, how I think mine work.

    But also there's the forgetful aspect you note at the end. Sometimes I'll forget that I have 9-stop bracketing turned on, so ruin half the shots until, in horror, I notice it. So forgetting to pay attention to the aperture among a gaggle of fussy kids…. yeah, highly likely. 🙂

    2009-12-17 at 22:11