During my recent photography workshop in Alaska, we were driving from Anchorage to Seward to photograph Humpback Whales. Along the way we stopped at Summit Lake for a late lunch.
It was starting to rain but the view across the lake to the stormy mountains was stunning. I wanted to capture a shot showing the reeds and rain on the water in the foreground and still pull in the background mountains with a long lens. This posed the problem of having enough depth of field for both so I decided to try my first ever split focus image.
If you haven’t previously heard about focus stacking, it is where you take a number of exposures of the same subject, moving your focal point to the different areas of the image as you go. (In this case I only used two different images). It is used a lot in macro and scientific photography where depth of field is so limited. With focus stacking photographers can now layer the images to achieve a much larger depth of field.
For this shot, I used my 70-200 2.8 lens set at 165mm and took the first shot of the reeds, I then refocused on the distant mountains keeping the camera as stationary as possible (my tripod was packed away) and took the second shot. These were actually both taken at f2.8 which independently gave them shallow depths of field. I merged the two images in PhotoShop and converted it to black and white. Not something I have ever done before but I am really pleased with the results.
Whether or not I ever choose to do it again, who knows. But isn’t it fantastic that as photographers we are constantly trying new things. Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
Go out and try it on your next shoot, and let me know how it goes!
The first image, with focus on the reeds in the foreground.
The second image, with focus on the mountains in the distance.
Canon EOS 1Dx. Canon 70-200 2.8L IS II.
ISO 200. F2.8 at 1/2500 second for each image.