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Don’t Fence Me In

I have mentioned this tip before, but it is worth repeating. If you are shooting through a chain link fence, or similar obstruction, try opening the aperture on your lens as wide as possible (assuming you have that control available to you). Then place your camera right up against the fence, and the fence wires will just disappear. It’s physics!

This is Park Avenue in the Bronx, with the Metro-North Train tracks running through it. I was walking across 188th Street to meet my family for dinner at a restaurant on Arthur Avenue in the Belmont section of the Bronx. This was taken with the Fuji x100 with the aperture at its widest setting f/2.0. I’m not sure how wide open an aperture needs to be for this effect to take place, and I believe it is affected by other factors such as the size of the lens, the amount of light available, etc. Here is another image taken with the same settings, but I stepped back about a foot away from the fence, which starts pulling the wire lines back into visibility.

If you want to experiment at home, use your best fast aperture lens — a prime that goes to f/2.0 or wider is best. Hold a pen or pencil directly in front of the lens, and take pictures at a variety of f-stops, from f/16 on down to below 2.0.  You will see the pen gradually become fuzzy, indistinct, and eventually disappear.

Sometimes you want the fence in the picture, and I kind of like he look of the second image, but it’s also good to have options.

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  • Len SaltielOctober 27, 2011 - 8:36 am

    Love the lighting and leading lines on this MarkReplyCancel

  • Chris NitzOctober 27, 2011 - 8:43 am

    Thanks for the tip! Think I’ll give this a try today while I’m shooting some toys.ReplyCancel

  • Dave DiCelloOctober 27, 2011 - 9:05 am

    These are some of my favorites of your Mark, really excellent shots manReplyCancel

  • Viveca KohOctober 27, 2011 - 11:57 am

    These have a wonderful quality about them, and the mesh fence creates a really interesting texture which I like a lot. It’s real photo magic the way one can make fences disappear like this, isn’t it?ReplyCancel

  • Jimi JonesOctober 27, 2011 - 9:39 pm

    Nice shots here, man. I like the softness of that first one.
    Thanks for this really cool tip, Mark. It definitely will come in handy. I could have used it at the Grand Prix this Summer.ReplyCancel

  • Edith LevyOctober 27, 2011 - 11:20 pm

    Really love these Mark. Both terrific and thanks for the tip on the aperture. I actually really like the effect on the second image.ReplyCancel

  • JustinOctober 28, 2011 - 10:48 am

    Thanks for the example you provided! The first image is awesome, but then to get a useful before/after…can’t beat that!ReplyCancel

  • MarkOctober 28, 2011 - 11:11 am

    Thanks for the positive feedback, all of you. I’m especially pleased because I was disappointed in the processing — not so much that I didn’t like the results, but these were not the results I envisioned starting out. I couldn’t get them to look the way I wanted, so it’s nice to hear that folks appreciate the way they do look.ReplyCancel

  • Chris RobinsOctober 30, 2011 - 11:52 pm

    what a difference pushed up to the fencing. i do that all the time, sometimes it works, other times I like the fence out of focus and the image in the background in focus. great track shot.ReplyCancel

  • hunterX0506October 31, 2011 - 7:03 pm

    What a nice picture on that image. So great! Thanks for sharing it. | :P ReplyCancel

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