African Violet Photography
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 ~~Focus:  Software~~ 
       This is not so much a software 'fix', as a method of using your camera to get an image that is properly focused, and then using photo-editing software to crop the digital file.   I must add that I am very unfamiliar with photo-editing software, but for the purposes of this lesson, very simple programs may be used.  I also would add that the various photographers I have questioned have all recommended a 'good' photo program.
      For the purposes of this series of lessons, I wish to emphasis my opinion that it is best to begin with a superb image, as taken by the camera, and then whatever you chose to 'do to it' later will be the 'icing on the cake'. 
      By now you are saying:  'I don't have a fancy camera.  Am I stuck with what I get?'  The answer is 'No!'. 
      We have seen that too little light will cause focus problems.   That topic will be covered under the Exposure lessons.  Here we will concentrate on the 'field of focus' limitations.
      As we try to move in close to our African violets, we find we can't get as close as we would like without being unable to keep the nearest blossoms sharply in focus.   As we step back, the plant or flower becomes so small in the viewfinder we are unsure just when the focus just as we wish.  Here, 'practice makes perfect'.  Also, digital photography comes into it's own here, as we can view the image in a few moments... and if the focus is not correct, we can shoot the photo again! 
      But if closeup photos are your heart's desire, or you prefer tightly cropped photos with little distracting background, there is a very simple method having everything!  Again, this method is simple, but not possible in film photography unless you had access to a custom photo lab.
     Simply take a good, sharp and properly exposed photo of the African violet plant.  Take care not to attempt to 'push the limits' of the field of focus;  stay well back from the plant.  Then take that image file of the entire plant, or shelf, and load it into your software program.  Crop it as close as you like and there you have it:  a beautiful close-up shot of your favorite blossom.
      The various software programs will vary in just how the cropping tool appears on your screen and if you need to press other options, etc.... but this is one application that should be fairly easy to learn and you will use so many times.
       One tip:  when you have cropped the image as you like, don't forget to "Save As....." another file instead of "Save".  You may wish to reuse the original image as a whole plant photo or decide to redo the cropping in a slightly different way.
 
This image is just as was taken.  I moved in toward the plant until I had the view I wanted.  The blossoms are out of focus.  The field of focus actually begins just behind the blossoms and includes the center leaves of the plant.
For the sake of comparison, I have included the final image here so that you may compare the image above and the final photo.

This photo is the cropped version of the image below.
The focus could be improved even further if desired.

This is the original, raw image taken by the camera.
The image was then cropped to the desired composition using a very basic
software program.

You will notice the nearest lower stalk of blooms is out of focus and the leaves on the far side of the plant are also out of the field of focus.

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