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Thread: Photographing long hallways - tilt or swing to achieve maximum focus?

  1. #1

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    Photographing long hallways - tilt or swing to achieve maximum focus?

    This seems like something that's probably just down to preference and there's no actual right or wrong way, but if you were photographing down a long hallway and wanted to get both the near and far end in focus or at least acceptably sharp, would you use front tilt or swing to achieve this? It seems to me that either one would work fine as long as you also shot it at a small enough aperture.

  2. #2
    Gary Beasley's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing long hallways - tilt or swing to achieve maximum focus?

    That situation if full of tradeoffs as far as movements are concerned. If you tilt to focus the floor you will lose ceiling sharpness or vice versa. Depends on your priorities for the image. Most effective overall is to use hyperfocal distance focussing and stop down to your diffraction limit.

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    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing long hallways - tilt or swing to achieve maximum focus?

    I'd use a small f/stop. Shooting straight down a long hallway, the top, bottom, and both sides of the frame will be nearer, while the center of the frame is farther, and there aren't any movements for that. All that Scheimpflug stuff is great on paper but never seems to work in the real world.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  4. #4

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    Re: Photographing long hallways - tilt or swing to achieve maximum focus?

    Neither. In situations like that (I'm assuming a scene with the camera centered in the hallway), where you have near objects at equal distance at the top, bottom and sides of the image (the floor, ceiling and walls, respectively) and the same situation for the far, using movements gives you no advantage whatsoever. The only way to eke out even a little advantage using movements here is to position the camera close to one of the surfaces (e.g., to the floor or to one wall) and then use tilt or swing very modestly to get near focus points both in focus. For example, one could position the camera close to one wall and then swing a bit to get the nearest part of the close wall in the same focus plane as the nearest part of the far wall.

    Stopping down and using shorter focal length lenses are your friends here.

    Best,

    Doremus

  5. #5
    C. D. Keth's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing long hallways - tilt or swing to achieve maximum focus?

    It depends if the camera and the hallway is centered (or nearly) in frame, as if we are moving down it, or if the camera is to one wall and photographing the other wall receding into the distance in a more heavily weighted composition.

    The first situation is a job for figuring out a focus split that is acceptable and leaving the standards parallel. No movement will help over any other.

    The second situation would have me use swing to bring near and far into focus and hopefully the ceiling and floor don't look too strange.
    -Chris

  6. #6

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    Re: Photographing long hallways - tilt or swing to achieve maximum focus?

    Good points everyone, thanks for the replies. The reason I ask is because after attempting a few shots of some hallways in an abandoned hospital I've been photographing lately I find my resulting shots are hit or miss. Even when using a relatively short focal length like my 90mm at f/32, both near and distant parts of the hallways are noticeably out of focus even without enlarging the image. In all of these shots I've had the camera centered (as well as I could) in the hallway looking straight down it. I'm sure this mostly is a result of poor choice of initial focus point and not using a smaller aperture. I figured that when doing something like using forward tilt to bring the floor in the foreground and the ceiling in the distance into the same plane of focus would cause the ceiling/top of the wall in the foreground to become noticeably blurred but hoped that shooting at a very small aperture would be enough to bring it back to at least be acceptably sharp.

  7. #7
    C. D. Keth's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing long hallways - tilt or swing to achieve maximum focus?

    The trick you're running into is that the scheimpflug principal, apart from allowing us to move the plane of best focus and the volume of acceptable focus, paradoxically also REDUCES the total volume of acceptable focus. Usually this doesn't matter because you hide that in the composition, like those out of focus volumes of space being underground or in open air in the case of most landscapes. In a hallway, tunnel, the forest, and similar spaces enclosed on all sides, there's nowhere to hide.
    -Chris

  8. #8

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    Re: Photographing long hallways - tilt or swing to achieve maximum focus?

    At 32 you are also into diffraction.

  9. #9
    Eric Woodbury
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    Re: Photographing long hallways - tilt or swing to achieve maximum focus?

    Sometimes diffraction is better than blur, thus Group f/64. Focus on the prominent subject/distance, use hyperfocal distance, and stop down as much as you can tolerate. Standby for reciprocity failure, too.

    I've only seen this fixed with a blending of multiple focus points from multiple images. Even that is tricky, because as focus changes, so does magnification. The is possible only in digi-land with software to help, but I've never been to digi-land.

  10. #10
    C. D. Keth's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing long hallways - tilt or swing to achieve maximum focus?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Woodbury View Post
    Sometimes diffraction is better than blur, thus Group f/64. Focus on the prominent subject/distance, use hyperfocal distance, and stop down as much as you can tolerate. Standby for reciprocity failure, too.

    I've only seen this fixed with a blending of multiple focus points from multiple images. Even that is tricky, because as focus changes, so does magnification. The is possible only in digi-land with software to help, but I've never been to digi-land.
    You could probably focus stack in the darkroom if your particular hallway had dark sections where you could blend the exposures. It would be a whole lot of work.
    -Chris

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