Use a combination of wide apertures, long focal lengths and close viewpoints to take a number of photographs with shallow depth of field. (Remember that smaller f numbers mean wider apertures.) Try to compose the out-of-focus parts of the picture together with the main subject. Add one or two unedited sequences, together with relevant shooting data and an indication of your selects, to your learning log.
Wide apertures create shallow depth of field, especially when combined with a long focal length and a close viewpoint. In human vision the eye registers out-of-focus areas as vague or indistinct – we can’t look directly at the blur. But in a photograph, areas of soft focus can form a large part of the image surface so they need to be handled with just as much care as the main subject.
Don’t forget that the camera’s viewfinder image is obtained at maximum aperture for maximum brightness and therefore at the shallowest depth of field. Use the depth of field preview button to see the actual depth of field at any particular aperture. (This is especially useful in film cameras where you don’t have the benefit of reviewing a shot immediately after you’ve taken it). It’s surprising to see the effect that a single f stop can have on the appearance of an image.
F2.8 1/250 56mm
F2.8 1/400 56mm
F2.8 1/250 70mm
F2.8 1/100 70mm
F2.8 1/320 70mm
F2.8 1/320 70mm
All of the Photographs above were shot at f 2.8 on a very overcast day. The shallow depth of field does seem to guide the viewer to the sharp area of the photograph. The blur in some of the shots seems to contribute to the overall composition, where as in others it detracts from the main subject. In the photograph with a single swing chain running down the centre of the frame, the blurred block of colour to the left of the frame seems to detract from the main subject.
I can see the importance of visualising the final outcome of an image, setting the camera to obtain the desired effect, being aware of how things will look in the frame even with a shallow depth of field.
In the two shots above both have a subject close in the foreground and then some distance to the background.
In the first shot the subject is clearly in focus with the background behind blurred, this invites the viewer to focus their attention on the subject in the foreground which is clear and sharp and more comfortable to look at, the shallow depth of field has drawn the viewers gaze away from the blurred areas in the picture.
In the second shot with the focus set to infinity causing everything past a certain point to be in focus, the background is now sharp with a large depth of field and the main subject in the foreground is out of focus. Of course it’s not impossible to look at the blurred subject in the foreground, but the eye does seem to relax on the sharp areas of the image.
For me the first shot is the easiest to look at, the sharp subject in the foreground sits easy in the composition with the blurred background complementing the over all effect.
Setting the camera to aperture priority and using a 24-70mm lens I set a wide aperture of f 2.8 at a focal length of 48mm the film equivalent of 72mm. With these settings the overall effect seems to compliment the subject in the portrait. The shallow depth of field seems to push the subject forward from the blurred background, the result of a wide aperture, coupled with the slight compression of the features of the subject from the use of a telephoto lens appears to have very attractive results.
My camera settings for the portrait below are not exactly as set out in the course instructions but the overall effect is approaching the goal set, something for me to watch out for in future exercises, also I need to work on my composition when doing Head Shots I seem to either frame to tight or leave to much space around the subject. Another thing for me to be conscious of in future.
fig.1 24mm/ film 36mm
fig.2 32mm/ film 48mm
fig.3 52mm/ film 78mm
fig.4 70mm/ film 105mm
Above are four images of the same location recorded at different focal lengths. As we zoomed in we appear to loose some of the scene as though we are walking into the picture. Looking at the right hand wall as we zoom into the picture we see little change in the ‘angle of view’
Looking at the different images I feel fig.2. feels closest to the view of our normal vision.