30 Days with the Fuji 35mm f2: Day Eleven

We’ve got another minimalist image today. For whatever reason, I’ve always loved shots looking straight up with airplanes in them. I’ve seen quite a few of these types of shots set in cities with skyscrapers framing the edges of the sky with an airplane (and sometimes its contrail) situated neatly in the center. I’ve never had the patience to seek out one of those shots (or felt comfortable faking one by combining multiple captures), but the other day I was coming home from a photo walk and sort of stumbled into this view that reminded me of those sorts of shots. The skyscrapers have been replaced by a tree, but the feel of the image is similar.

As I was taking this image, I was encountered with one of the downsides of using this lens (well, not so much the lens as the focal length): depth of field. In landscape and street photography, unless I’m deliberately trying to create bokeh, I’ll usually aim for the an effective depth of field that will keep everything in the frame in focus. A smaller aperture (larger f-number) improves the effective depth of field, but if you choose too small of an aperture the lens will start to soften a bit and you’ll lose sharpness. So, even if everything is in focus, everything may not be very sharp. Usually, the sweet spot is around f8, and that’s what I try to stick with in my landscape photography. Another factor that affects effective depth of field is focal length, where the longer the focal length results in a narrower depth of field for a given focal length. This is one reason why wide angle lenses are so popular for landscape photography, it’s very easy to get everything in the frame in focus with a sharp aperture. I do a lot of my photography at 35mm and wider, and with those focal lengths I would have been able to stick with f8 and get both the tree’s branches and the airplane in focus. With a longer focal length of 53mm, though, this wasn’t possible. I stopped down to f11 to increase depth of field, but I didn’t want to go much farther to preserve sharpness. Even this wouldn’t allow me to get both the branches and the airplane in focus, though (I know this because the Fuji X-T1 has a nice effective depth of frame indicator), so I had to decide whether to sacrifice some sharpness for depth of field or just live with the fact that not everything would be in focus. I chose the latter, primarily because the airplane is so small in the frame that you wouldn’t ever really know that it was out of focus unless you were super zoomed in (or if I told you that it was out of focus in a lengthy rambling about focal lengths and depths of field).

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