How To Take Pictures Through A Fence
Shoot through fences with these simple techniques
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If you've ever photographed animals at a zoo or taken pictures of kids playing any number of sports, chances are you've had to try to shoot through a chain link fence. If you happened to do it just right, you may not have noticed much different from a normal shot. But if you didn't know the best approach, you may have ended up with distracting bits of fence between you and your subject. If you really did it wrong, you ended up with a picture of a fence and not much else. So here are a few tips to up your chances for success the next time you need to shoot through a fence.
- First of all, get as close to the fence as possible. Ideally you'd like to be next to the fence and position your lens so that it's avoiding the fence altogether or at least minimizing its influence at the edges of the lens (and therefore at the edges of the frame). This is the ideal way to make pictures without a hint of fence interference, but it isn't always practical to be right next to the fence. What you do need to do, though, is ensure that you're at least closer to the fence than the distance from the fence to the subject. If the subject (and therefore your point of focus) is 20 feet beyond the fence, make sure you're within 20 feet of the fence yourself.
- Set the aperture to wide open. This usually means f/2 or f/2.8, or whatever the smallest number (the biggest opening) is on a given lens. This will create the shallowest depth of field possible, minimizing the influence of the fence on the scene.
- Manual Focus. If you rely on autofocus—which I find is so often tricked that I prefer shooting in manual mode unless I have a specific reason not to—you're bound to accidentally focus on the fence instead of the subject beyond. So choose manual focus and control what's sharp—ensuring it's the subject and not the fence.