Zone Focusing Project
In this project you are going to shoot everything in manual focus mode. Either read your camera / lens manual and get familiar with the various focal distance ranges according to your equipment or go to the website referred to in the resources section, enter your camera model, lens and preferred settings and that should give you a rough idea.
Choose a comfortable distance. If you are using anything between a 28mm – 35mm lens, then I suggest 3 metres or about 10 feet would be a good starting point. With most cameras this will give you a sharp focus range of roughly 10 feet with everything from about 7 feet away from you, to about 17 feet being sharp. (assuming aperture set to between about f5.6 – f8)
Now go out and frame your subject so everything you want to be in focus is within this range and shoot away.
Try at one setting for a whole day and then go home and study the results. Do not worry if the images themselves are not that good at this stage, the idea is simply to get familiar with the technique. As you get better and zone focusing becomes second nature then you can start again to think about composition and better framing.
As you do get better and more comfortable with this technique you might want to make things a little more difficult for yourself. To improve the impact of your images you can try widening your aperture and getting closer to your subject, thereby dramatically reducing your depth of field. Doing this will mean you will need to be a pretty good judge of distances, but you’ll hopefully have a lot of fun experimenting.