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Compound Eye

Compound Eye

The many facets of science photography

With depth of field, more is not always better

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In the comments, HBG_Dave makes a salient observation:

I’ve always wondered why I like your photographs even though my personal theme has always been maximum sharp focus (not that I get it very often) and I tend to consider any blurring as a flaw. I think it must be because your compositions use the range of focal resolutions to draw the eye into the focal target.

That's about right. Consider the following:

A honey bee visits an aster (Illinois)

This bee image is one of my least sharp photographs. The focal plane is razor-thin and large parts of the frame are obscured through the haze of an unintentional foreground flower. Yet blurring works in the image's favor. Extraneous objects in this visually complex environment, when blurred, aren't competing with our subject. Provided that the narrow sliver of focus falls in just the right plane, the in- and out-of-focus elements combine to draw our eye toward the melding of bee and flower.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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