Composition & Hyperfocal Distance Review

Craftsmanship review time – do we all remember Hyperfocal Distance from this earlier lesson? Here’s an example image that illustrates its use.
Compositionally, the image demonstrates

  • The use of prominent¬† foreground objects to anchor the image & to provide the illusion of depth. A classic wide angle lens application.
  • Separation of the main subject from its surroundings – thus the low angle which shows the flamingo against the sky (partially against the sky and partially against foliage is neither good nor effective).
  • Spacing – the spacing between the flamingo and the frame’s top & right sides, and the similar spacing between the tee marker and the bottom wasn’t an accident.
  • The use of leading lines (the implied line directed by the flamingo’s “gaze into the distance”) to take the viewer’s eye through the image.
  • Finally, there is a triangular eye movement suggested for the viewer –
  1. The eye is immediately captured the highest contrast object – in this case the flamingo
  2. The implied line takes our eye down the fairway and to the distant houses (in focus due to using hyperfocal distance)
  3. From the houses, our eye looks for another resting point and is captured by the tee box marker.
  4. And the triangular movement is completed by the return to the flamingo (along an oblique line).
  5. The best images don’t ask the viewer’s eye to wander aimlessly. Suggest a path through your image based on understanding principles of visual design and human perception.


Nikon D300, 16-50mm f/2.8 Tokina, Gitzo Explorer (1/20 sec, f/22, 24mm, aperture priority, ISO 200, EV = 0)
The tee box marker was about a foot from the lens and I was on the ground with the camera & tripod. Don’t take all of your images from a height of 5’6″, or however high your eyeballs are. Look for different angles & perspectives. Taking pictures of children? Get down to their level or lower to show the world as they see it. Get Creative.
Working out this composition with all of its related parts without a tripod would be impossible (for me). After the initial setup, I twiddled and tweaked for over five minutes – the final adjustments were on the order of moving the tripod less than an inch, changing the camera angle a degree or so, and adjusting focal length 1-2mm. Impossible to do hand held (or with a cheap tripod).
Spend time examining and critiquing images – especially your own – in the manner presented above. It’s an effective learning tool.
The image is part of a series featuring the pink flamingo, Flo – a project I’m doing for our local home owners association. Over the summer Flo is visiting different places in the community each week. Doing a project – any project – is a good way to work on your photography. It forces you to use your camera and think about what you’re doing (to say nothing of getting your butt off the couch ;-)).

0 thoughts on “Composition & Hyperfocal Distance Review”

  1. Ed,
    Really like this shot. You actually get the feeling this (plastic) bird is LOOKING into the distance. I can tell it wasn’t a ‘grab’ shot.
    Travis

Leave a Comment

Subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.