A few weeks ago I was enjoying a day at the Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach, when I came upon an artist working with glass.  He and his assistant were feverishly moving back and forth between the kiln and the work table creating a beautiful piece of art. 

Of course, I had my camera but was kept at bay by the crowd that had gathered to watch.  I could have zoomed in for a shot, but their work area was surrounded by a cage like fence to separate the people viewing from the work area.

I remember saying to myself, “If I could only get up to the fence I could make it disappear.”  Well apparently I didn’t say that to myself, because the gentleman next to me replied, “Really?”

What can you do if you’re separated from your subject by a wire or chain-link fence?  You simply make the fence disappear!

On a recent bike ride along the coast, I came upon a fence that was protecting the riders from an adjacent golf course.  I stopped for a moment because I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to demonstrate this disappearing principle. 

Both of these shots are unedited for the purpose of demonstration.

The first shot was taken a few feet away from the fence.  If you look carefully through the chain-links, you will notice what appears to be a blue shoe in the center of the frame.  Even if I changed my focal length and zoomed closer, the fence would still obstruct my view by invading the shot.  This is the best shot of the shoe I can capture from this distance.  I’ve seen many shots like this taken from visits to the local zoo.

However if I’m able to move closer to the fence, in fact right up next to the fence, I can capture a nearly unobstructed shot of the shoe even though my camera lens would not slip inside the chain-link openings.  How you ask?

How did I make this fence disappear?

Step #1 – Place your camera lens right next to the fence.  It doesn’t have to poke through the fence.  In fact, mine wouldn’t.

Step #2 – Shoot in Aperture Priority Mode with the smallest setting (widest aperture).  I used 5.6.

Step #3 – Zoom to the longest focal length possible.  I used 135mm.

Step #4 – Switch to Manual Focus so your auto-focus isn’t confused by the chain-link in front of the lens.

Step #5 – Manually focus on your subject and press the shutter.

VOILA!!!  As if by magic, you have captured the subject without the fence.

Thanks for stopping by.  I’ll see you tomorrow.


~ by photographyfree4all on September 8, 2010.


  1. That’s a nice lesson for those who don’t already know. It’s the same principal as when you put your nose up against a screen door. If you’rr looking at something across the street, your eyes will open to a wide aperture and the screen isn’t there. Nice post. Bob


  2. Thanks for your comment, Bob! You’re exactly right – it is just like our eyes. I think many experienced photographers and enthusiasts will know this secret. But, hopefully someone will read it and learn from it. It’s one of the things I never even thought about in my point and shoot days because I had no settings to adjust. I’m always glad you stop by and offer a comment, Bob! I hope you’ll keep coming back. Say, how’s that golf game coming?


  3. Wow! That is just fantastic! Thank you very much for sharing your experience! I was shooting a baseball game yesterday and could have used that. I will the next time!
    Thanks again!


  4. This technique works perfectly at ballgames, Chris! I used this recently to shoot some birds that were enclosed in a protective fence. You wouldn’t even know a fence was there. I’m so glad you stopped by and left a comment. Thank you for your kind words here. I hope you’ll stop by again, soon.


  5. Here’s another great little secret. It is called the Sunny Sixteen. If you are ever at a loss for what exposure to use if your automatics go haywire or if you just want to shoot manual. The basic exposure for an average sunny day can be this. Set your aperture at f16, set your shutter speed to coinside with the ISO you intend to use. I.E. ISO 200 would be 1/200 of a second or the closest you can get. Or ISO 400 would be 1/400 sec. It will give you perfect pictures. 1/200 sec + f16 +ISO 200 = perfect picture. If it is overcast you can adjust, as you would if the scene was too bright say sun shining on snow. The Sunny Sixteen is the ideal exposure to use as a starting pointt.


  6. Great stuff, Bob! I’m really happy that you posted this information for everyone who is interested. I think it’s great when we can draw from the more experienced photographers. I love it when we share information like this. This formula can make even me a better photographer. Thanks for jumping back in!


  7. You’re welcome. Now about my golf game. I am having trouble making that 12 inch fifth putt for quadruple bogie.


  8. Ouch! Keep practicing, Bob! Don’t let us down! We’re all counting on you.


  9. Great tip, although I guess I’ve used this technique without knowing it when avoiding the bug guts shooting through the windshield. Now I’ll be able to apply it elsewhere! 🙂


  10. Any time you can control the DOF, you’re doing good. I remember way back when with film cameras, it was often the way to get a shot from a distance. Like many, I gave up photography because of lack of control of developing, cropping and printing. Thankfully digital gives us all that back.


  11. Thanks for the great tip! I took pics at a baseball game yesterday and could have used the info!

    Unless you first name is photography you will have to let us know who you are!!! A pic of your bike would be good too!!!

    Thanks again!


  12. Thanks for stopping by and leaving this comment, Chris! I really appreciate it. yes, this would work great at a ball game! I’ll be posting some information about my bike, soon. I love riding the coast paths! I hope you’ll stop by again, soon.


  13. Digital has done wonders for the art of photography, Robert. I know there are still purists, and that’s OK. Maybe someday, I’ll grab the old film 35mm and see what I can still do. But, I’ll always return to my DSLR! Thanks for stopping by.


  14. Haven’t we all shot through those bugs, Missusk? This is a great comment – thanks! I hope you’ll stop back again.


  15. You always have something interesting to teach, great pictures. Thanks for the tips.


  16. Thank you for your very nice comment, Martina. I’m so glad you stopped by. I really hope this site will become a tool for everyone to use. Thanks for stopping by.


  17. Thanks for that useful tip, I did not think it would work in that way, I must try it sonn with my new tripod!


  18. Give it a try, you’ll be surprised if you’ve never done it. On occasion I’ve gotten some blur, but if I continue to toy with the aperture and focal length, I can usually get it to completely disappear. Thanks for stopping by, Truels! Congrats on that new tripod! I hope you’ll stop by again.


  19. Great tip! Now if I could just come across some chain link fences in Manhattan…



  20. HAHAHA! That’s funny, catch! I suppose there may be ashortage there. Maybe a ballgame?! I don’t know. I’m just glad you stopped by and gave me a bit of a chuckle this morning! I hope you’ll stop back soon.


  21. An excellent simplified description with examples, excellent job!!
    now, off to the zoo sometime 🙂


  22. It’s perfect for the zoo and for ballgames. Thanks for stopping by, Michael.


  23. Excellent examples of a quite useful technique!


  24. Oooooh, thankyouthankyouthankyou! I have been busy this week and haven’t had time to read much in my inbox. This is a very wonderful ‘trick’ to know! I take a lot of photos of my chickens for my blogspace and get frustrated with the chicken wire. Hence, much of what I shoot goes to the ‘cutting room floor’ so to speak.

    So again I say,
    Thank you!


  25. This should work perfectly for that application, Lynda! Thanks for stopping by and leaving this kind comment! Now, don’t get to busy to take a break and stop by again, soon!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: