2.5 metres

Focused zone

Top: focused on infinity, the image is sharp back to H (hyperfocal distance) Above: focused on H, the image is sharp from infinity to half the distance from H to the camera (A)


These formulae assume subject distances are significantly greater than the focal length of the lens, as in the examples.

Care must be taken that computations use the same length and distance measurement unit throughout. Although some intermediate numbers may be large as a result, it is usually most convenient to work in millimetres, like lens focal lengths.

In the real world few modern lenses for smaller formats, including zooms, have distance scales sufficiently well calibrated to make accurate HD settings possible. Those that do have them are usually of longer focal lengths. Anyone sufficiently interested can make a stick-on scale with the aid of a line measure and a good contrast object on which to focus. It would be helpful if the focus distance information relayed to the CPU in a number of camera models could be used to display subject distance in the now usual LCD. This would enable accurate settings for field depth to be made.

ROGER HICKS is a much-published author on photography. He has written more than three dozen books on the subject, many in partnership with his wife, Frances Schultz. Roger started photography as a teenager in the 1960s and worked professionally in a London advertising studio in the mid-1970s. He has been a freelance photographer/writer since 1981, contributing to many photography magazines, including 'Shutterbug' in America. Visit his website at www.

Roger Hicks


HOTOGR APHY is, for most of us, greatly affected by the seasons. Even if we take roughly the same number of pictures per day (or week or month) all through the year, there is likely to be significant variation in what we shoot and when. In the long days of summer there are more daylight shooting hours, and the warmer, drier weather (if we are lucky) encourages us to go out more.

I was reminded of this recently when an AP reader pointed out that summer begins in June. All I can say is that anyone whose education has progressed beyond junior school should have a better idea of the progress of the seasons.

In much of the world, at least outside the tropics, the main seasons are summer and winter; spring and autumn are transitional. All four vary widely in length. In Malta (where I lived as a boy because my father was in the Royal Navy), winters are short and mild. Spring comes early and is short, summer is long and hot; and autumn is late and wet. Fifty years ago, it was something of a joke in the Mediterranean Fleet that the transition from winter to summer uniforms (on 1 May) seldom coincided exactly with the weather. Some years, people would shiver in summer whites before it was really warm enough; others, they would swelter in winter uniform because the warm weather had come too early

Now let us compare Malta with Scotland, where my father, now long-retired from the Navy, lives. Scottish winters are long and dreigh; spring comes a lot later, but is as lovely as Malta's; summers are short and mild; and autumn comes early.

Compare these two analyses of two countries and you immediately see the nonsense of pretending that seasons can be assigned to calendar months, or even to the astronomical convention that summer is from the summer solstice to autumn equinox. The very idea that there are four fixed seasons, each lasting exacdy three months, is the sort of doctrinaire lunacy that can only appeal to someone whose entire life is spent indoors, in rooms that are heated in winter and cooled in the summer -'Schoolteachers,' as my wife exclaims. I should add that both her mother and mine were primary schoolteachers, and that I used to teach at secondary level.

Fixed, immutable rules are. I suggest, almost exactly what photography is not about. To be sure, the seasons may little affect some portraitists, or those whose reportage photography keeps them indoors, but even those who sink so low as to earn their living by photographing 'celebrities' must often find that they have to take pictures outside nightclubs as well as inside, and there Is surely a difference between a mild (or even warm) summer night and a bitter winter's night in the lashing rain.

Because of where I

now live, some 400 miles south of London, and because of the way I live, buying much more seasonal produce and much less that is air-freighted in from Kenya and Argentina, I am a good deal more aware of the seasons than I have ever been in my life - and I have to say. I feel that I have gained greatly from this. Whenever I go for the sort of walk that the Victorians called a 'constitutional', the season cries out to be noticed. The late sunrises and hard frosts of winter; the bursting fresh greens of spring; the long, hot days of summer (when, being a Cornishman, not an Englishman, I tend to avoid the midday sun); the harvests and the dying of the leaves in autumn - all of this is grist to my photographic mill.

Often I carry a Leica, either my MP for film or my M8 for digital, or sometimes my M2 with my first-ever Leica lens, a 1936 5cm f/3.5 Elmar - for that vintage look. Or I may take my Pentacon Six TL, bought in Prague, in the Czech Republic, a few years ago for the price of a dozen rolls of film. The camera shapes my vision as much as the season, and this is important to me, too.

This is why I take ill to the idea that seasons are fixed, any more than that styles of photography are fixed. Life, in all its endless variety, refuses to be forced into Procrustean categories, and if we have any sense we will make the same refusal in our own lives. AP

GG In much of the world, at least outside the tropics, the main seasons are summer and winter; spring and autumn are transitional 99

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