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  1. #11

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    Putting it quite simply, I don't know. After so many years of being involved with photography focussing either AF or manual whatever just come as a second nature. I assess a scene, subject or whatever el I intend to photograph and set the focussing accordingly. I don't thin about it a great deal. If in doubt I take 2-3 at different points of focus.

  2. #12
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    LF -- I focus about 1/3 of the way into the scene. I play with any movements that might be needed. Then I start closing the aperture. If both far and near parts of the scene start to come into focus at the same time, then I know I have placed the PoF properly. If the back comes into focus before the foreground, then I need to bring the PoF a little closer., etc.
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  3. #13

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    "I have never been confident using tilts and swings. I understand what to do, but I'm never sure if it's right, and usually end up stopping down further than I should probably have to. Often don’t bother even trying tilts when I should. In the end I've usually settled for more diffraction rather than risk a totally screwed up picture. I'd also like to point out the uncertainty regarding depth of field made its way into my 35mm work."

    Get a good loupe which can be focussed on the GG, a good (meaning dark) darkcloth so you can actually see the GG, then focus on the GG.

  4. #14
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    IC, how do you know where to put the plane? What about depth of field?
    I focus on the important stuff that needs the most detail. Again, if the scene is complicated, with important stuff at many different distances from the camera that does not fall on a plane, including stuff very close, then 8x10 is a poor format to choose (for me).

    In terms of DOF, my personal style is to just about always use f45. If the focus spread predicts an aperture smaller I usually use f45 anyway, allowing the less important stuff to be out of focus a little and not compromise the stuff needing maximum detail.

    For example a scene with tree at 'infinity' and one at 6 feet. The tree at infinity needs maximum detail whereas the close tree can be out of focus and still be recognized as a tree. For me, when it is the other way around (the close three sharp and the infinity stuff out of focus) it looks odd. So I DO NOT use focal spread focusing when I want the stuff at infinity to be sharp. I focus at infinity. So, in the example above, focusing at 20 feet (the middle of the focus spread, but where there is no tree) is a little crazy in terms of making the images I like to make.

  5. #15

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    Thank you everyone who responded so far. I’m essentially in agreement with all the comments. I’m just curious about how other people approach this. Even without tilt complications, depth of field is a judgement call. Depending on the picture, I’m not always able to decide between having some element definitely in focus at the expense of some sharpness elsewhere, or having everything “acceptably” sharp. Sometimes it also seems best in to focus at infinity since distant objects require more definition to appear sharp. Often I will simply expose multiple sheets/frames focused differently, and then make the decision in the darkroom. It might seem odd to bracket exposures for focus rather than exposure/development, but I guess in the end who cares how you get to the final print, as long as you get there.

    To clarify one thing, I’m referring tilt/swing movements in the context of the plane of sharp focus and depth of field. I have no issues with rise/fall/shift, and use those movements very often.

    Poisson du jour: I agree in principle with pretty much everything you wrote. The problem I run into with tilts is I find the results difficult to judge on the groundglass – even after doing this for years. If I’m focusing on say a wall, with the standards parallel, I can see when it is in proper focus. It is either in focus or not. Once tilts are applied however, if is difficult to know exactly where the plane of sharp focus “cuts” the various objects in front of the camera, and where the depth of field limits are. So the reference point for judging focus is ambiguous. Looking at any given part of the scene on the ground glass, as I move the rear standard back and forth, yes I can it get sharper and fuzzier, but even where it is sharpest, is it actually sharp or just sharper than when it is clearly out of focus? Has the tilt made anything better or worse? (I’m probably just not explaining this properly). So I looked to Merklinger and other sources for some tools that would hopefully eliminate some of the uncertainty. Some of these things looked promising, but only on paper where the distances etc are easy to assess. In the field they seemed very difficult to apply.

    CPorter: Regarding the hinge rule, how do you personally estimate the distance J?

    Diapositivo: I agree one must be careful with standard depth of field tables and assumptions regarding the acceptable size of the CoC.

  6. #16

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    I'm suddenly feeling quite inadequate, for all I do it pull it out to get a rough focus on the ground glass. Then I fine focus, introduce varying tilts and shifts and decide whether either (or both) look pleasing to my eye and ... <clicky... Voila! Art!>.

  7. #17

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    Nothing inadequate about that at all, amac212. Whatever works. That's the point. I'm trying to find out how people approach focusing, whether in a simple or complex way.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    Thank you everyone who responded so far. I’m essentially in agreement with all the comments. I’m just curious about how other people approach this. Even without tilt complications, depth of field is a judgement call. Depending on the picture, I’m not always able to decide between having some element definitely in focus at the expense of some sharpness elsewhere, or having everything “acceptably” sharp. Sometimes it also seems best in to focus at infinity since distant objects require more definition to appear sharp. Often I will simply expose multiple sheets/frames focused differently, and then make the decision in the darkroom. It might seem odd to bracket exposures for focus rather than exposure/development, but I guess in the end who cares how you get to the final print, as long as you get there.

    To clarify one thing, I’m referring tilt/swing movements in the context of the plane of sharp focus and depth of field. I have no issues with rise/fall/shift, and use those movements very often.

    Poisson du jour: I agree in principle with pretty much everything you wrote. The problem I run into with tilts is I find the results difficult to judge on the groundglass – even after doing this for years. If I’m focusing on say a wall, with the standards parallel, I can see when it is in proper focus. It is either in focus or not. Once tilts are applied however, if is difficult to know exactly where the plane of sharp focus “cuts” the various objects in front of the camera, and where the depth of field limits are. So the reference point for judging focus is ambiguous. Looking at any given part of the scene on the ground glass, as I move the rear standard back and forth, yes I can it get sharper and fuzzier, but even where it is sharpest, is it actually sharp or just sharper than when it is clearly out of focus? Has the tilt made anything better or worse? (I’m probably just not explaining this properly). So I looked to Merklinger and other sources for some tools that would hopefully eliminate some of the uncertainty. Some of these things looked promising, but only on paper where the distances etc are easy to assess. In the field they seemed very difficult to apply.
    [...]


    Focusing on the ground glass and assessing tilt/swing etc is a challenge for everybody, as is estimting distance. I've watched as friends battled over a long period of time to correct focus, adjust tilt, refocus and readjust, all in the dim, wet surrounds of a cold rainforest. And here we've got people saying "it's easy!" Rubbish! I would not bother with LF now with so much fiddling necessary when I can do the same thing, faster and with better eyesight facilitation with 35mm. So really, the focusing it is certainly not something that lends itself to speed or for that matter, accuracy, with any doubt left to be covered by depth of field. Only the mathematical part is accurate (to a point). Everything else is done visually to the best of your perrsonal capacity. This deep technical and mathematical stuff is so totally unnecessary and anal that anybody concentrating just on those things will certainly get a picture (eventually!) but viewers are not going to be any more the wiser (or better informed) at picking up what was done. Of all my images made with applied tilt, not even my old uni Professor picked up the introduction of tilt and extensible DofF/focus peg until it was discussed what I found wrong with the scene and how it was corrected. That is to say that none of the effects will be visible and their merits will be open to judgement irrespective of what the photographer was trying to achieve.

    I will point out that depth of field "rules" (or standard placement marks) do not apply when tilt or swing is introduced. The other thing that I learnt in the early 1990s was that ultrawide angle LF lenses e.g. 65mm, will not benefit from any tilt or swing because of inherent great depth of field. Even if you wished to, following with accuracy the movement(s) would see the vast majority of people give it up. In a nutshell, just go out and play with the camera, introducing whatever movements you want to, record notes of what you are doing, shoot and inspect the prints or trannies (not negatives).


  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    For example a scene with tree at 'infinity' and one at 6 feet. The tree at infinity needs maximum detail whereas the close tree can be out of focus and still be recognized as a tree. For me, when it is the other way around (the close three sharp and the infinity stuff out of focus) it looks odd. So I DO NOT use focal spread focusing when I want the stuff at infinity to be sharp. I focus at infinity. So, in the example above, focusing at 20 feet (the middle of the focus spread, but where there is no tree) is a little crazy in terms of making the images I like to make.
    Thanks ic-racer. This is generally the approach I follow. Interestingly it is essentially what Merklinger calls "object plane focusing" (but done visually) - ie basing the point of focus and depth of field on the different objects in the scene and how much resolution they need.

  10. #20

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    hi michael

    when i focus, if i am going to stop down or do p/c movements i don't sweat it.
    i focus like vaughn does ...
    otherwise i just focus wherever it seems right, and make the exposure ....

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