I found myself at Virmond Park, situated on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan a few miles from my home. Looking around for things to shoot, I came across some cattails. I haven't done a lot of nature photography of late, so I was happy to "see" some possibilities in an area that I have neglected.
The problem was how best to capture these relatively mundane plants. Early on I was focusing on single cattails, as in the following shot.
Here I was intent on maintaining focus on the cattail. This was shot at f/4 and at fairly close range. As a result, the background was very soft. Not terrible, but just too simple, I thought. I decided I needed to bring the swordlike leaves more into play. The light was nice, though.
I then decided to take a series of broader shots at various apertures. This is something I do frequently because I am concerned with the background. This first shot was at f/13. This brought most of the cattails into decent focus, but I thought it also brought too much background into the shot, creating a distraction.
The next shot was at f/9.
Better, but I thought the gap just to the left of center was still a little too busy.
The final shot in this series was taken at a wide open f/3.2.
I think this is the best of the series. I had put the autofocus on the cattail on the left. This left the other cattails out of focus. Even so, I thought the overall effect was pleasant.
One little detail that I noticed was a dead leaf that had gone horizontal. And that is what I focused on for the next two shots. The first was taken at close range at f/5. Just OK.
The second was taken at f/3.2. However, it was taken at a greater distance. As a result, the effective depth of field was actually a little greater.
In the end, I decided that the leaf was a distraction and really took away from the intended subject, which was the cattails.
My favorite shot of the series was the following.
This was shot at f/9. I think it does the best job of maintaining interest and focus on the foreground items without introducing too much distraction in the background.