The Depth of my Field

Wine making is considered a distillation of the region where the grapes are grown. If you want to know something about Burgundy, France, don’t order Champagne. As the must ferments, the essence of the region is imbued into the wine. The art is in the transformation the winemaker makes on his materials to create a vintage. Each year progresses and turns to create the raw materials. It’s an art that spans years, even decades. The winemaker must ponder issues that may not be resolved in his or her lifetime. The introduction of wine grapes to a new region can sometimes take decades.

New York has had the benefit of some science, though. The Cayuga grape vine was developed by the Agricultural Extension at Cornell. It is specifically bred to thrive in the climate of the Finger Lakes. Many wineries in the Finger Lakes make excellent versions of Cayuga, a dry white wine.

This grape grows best in a unique area, carved from the land by the glaciers. The Iroquois believe that the Great Spirit pressed a part of Heaven down to Earth. The lakes are the impressions made by his fingers. It’s a great place to make wine.

At times, photography reminds me of winemaking. Instead of distilling a place, photography distills a moment. Time is the raw material and it’s all around us. Each picture you take, no matter how inane, captures the essence of that moment. Whether that moment is significant or not isn’t always up to you.

The art is in constricting your mind to the limitations of your device. The camera has a much different view of the world than we do. Depending on your equipment, that view is malleable. That’s not to say that more expensive equipment gives you better vision. Most people buy cameras for one or two features. For me, as long as the pixel count is good, there are multi, Center weight, and spot meters, I’m happy. I always use Aperture Priority. I almost wish I could tear the knob off to keep it from shifting. I’m lost whenever it slips into Shutter Priority or, yikes! Program. I’ve used manual before, but only in special situations. I even shoot fireworks in Aperture Priority.

Something in me wants control over the depth of field. That’s the part of the picture that’s in focus. A picture can be made very different depending on the depth of field chosen. The trick to photography is to look at the world as if through your viewfinder, even when your camera is hanging on your chest.

5 Responses to “The Depth of my Field”

  1. Phil Says:

    Top picture is lovely.

  2. Sonja Says:

    I like the foal’s outward expression of joy in its movement! I remember feeling like that as a foal myself!
    I am learning how to see the world as a photographer as well. It’s very different looking through the lens than looking straight on at a subject. I like to put the camera up to my eye and just start moving it around until a frame happens that I want to shoot. It’s better than walking around with my fingers in a square frame position! Apologies to painters…
    The real world event that taught me about depth of field was when I first had my eyes dilated for an eye exam. The temporary change in my vision demostrated to me that a smaller aperture provides better clarity in multiple distances. Experience – the great teacher.

  3. Jamie Says:

    GREAT series…it could be used in a textbook as an example of depth of field. I always shoot in aperture priority too!! DOF is something I just HAVE to have control over.

  4. Jamie Says:

    And while Im commenting…the top image is a terrific catch…well done! Can I ask what you shoot with?

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