- Photography for Beginners: Do You Understand Depth of Field?
- Techniques to Capture Impactful Environmental Portraits of Strangers (Video)
- Neat Trick if you Need a Macro Lens in a Pinch (Video)
Posted: 19 Jul 2013 04:37 PM PDT
Understanding depth of field is essential for any photographer who wants to move past the beginner stage. Using depth of field well gives you great control over the impact of your photos. For new photographers, depth of field can also be one of the most difficult elements to master.
Even when you break it down to the simplest terms, the relationship between aperture and depth of field can seem confusing. Whenever I teach a class or try to explain the manual settings on a friend’s camera, this is the topic we have to go over again and again. The good news is that with practice and concentration, the aperture/depth of field relationship will finally ‘click’ for you. The bad news is there is more to understanding depth of field than just using your aperture.
But let’s start at the beginning.
What is Depth of Field?
In simple terms, the depth of field is the area behind and in front of your main point of focus that is also acceptably in focus. So if you focus on a subject one metre away, you might look at your photo and find that everything from 0.9 to 1.2 metres is in focus. In this case, your depth of field is 0.3 metres (30 centimetres).
The very first thing a new photographer learns about depth of field is that it is controlled by the aperture on the lens. Very simply, a smaller aperture (larger f-stop number) creates a larger depth of field, and a larger aperture (smaller f-stop number) creates a narrower depth of field.
So if we go back to our previous example, let’s say the 30cm depth of field was captured with an aperture of F-8. You could narrow the depth of field considerably by adjusting the aperture to F-2.8, a much wider setting.
Sound confusing? If this is your first time working with depth of field, don’t worry. Go outside right now and take some shots just as I have described, and you should be able to see the results right away.
So if it is that simple, why do so many people struggle with depth of field? As I wrote earlier, there is more to depth of field than just the aperture.
Depth of field is also affected by how close the subject appears in your photo. That means either how close you are to the subject, or how much you magnify or reduce the subject using different lenses.
The closer you are to your subject, or the closer you make the subject appear by zooming in with your lens, the smaller the depth of field becomes. Let’s say you are photographing a person five metres away. At this distance, a standard or wide-angle lens will not only show a lot of background, but the wide depth of field could make the background quite distracting. However, if you walk much closer to the subject and re-focus, the depth of field will become much smaller. As a result, the well-focused person will stand out clearly from a blurry background. You can maximize the effect by opening the aperture to its widest setting.
Now imagine your subject is posing in front of a beautiful waterfall. If you stand close to the subject and photograph them with a wide aperture, you could get a great shot of the person, but the waterfall will be an out of focus blur. You could improve the situation slightly by closing the aperture a few stops. However, the most effective way to improve the depth of field is to stand a few metres further back, and/or zoom back to a wider angle with your lens. Not only will more background be visible, it will also be sharper (thanks to the increased depth of field) than if you adjusted the aperture alone.
There you have a quick look at three factors than can make it easier to master depth of field: aperture, distance from the subject, and the length of the lens. Now go and try out these ideas at the next opportunity. Assuming you are using a digital camera, it won’t cost you anything and you can see the results right away. With practice and patience, you will get a ‘feel’ for depth of field, and how to use it to improve your photography.
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Go to full article: Photography for Beginners: Do You Understand Depth of Field?
Posted: 19 Jul 2013 01:55 PM PDT
Photo shoots don’t always involve planning. Sometimes inspiration strikes on a whim. Eric Kim, a street photographer based in Los Angeles, used a GoPro mounted on top of his Ricoh GRD V compact camera to document and share an impromptu environmental portrait session with a stranger. Kim was visiting New York and was inspired, after eating a meal at Kane’s’ Diner, to photograph one of the waiters:
In the video, we get a chance to see a photographer at work as he establishes rapport with the waiter and asks to take his photograph. As the shoot goes on, the waiter, Angelo, becomes more relaxed, and Kim becomes more confident, asking his subject to move around the environment and to loosen up. By using a smaller, less intimidating camera, chatting with his subject, and waiting for Angelo’s true personality to shine through, Kim was able to capture natural portraits that appear to have been planned ahead of time.
An unplanned photo session doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t take a posed portrait. Kim’s video and the resulting images show that, though candid street photography has its place, approaching a stranger to ask to take a portrait can open up wonderful opportunities for photographers. Taking environmental portraits can create personal connections in a world that so often feels disconnected and anonymous.
Go to full article: Techniques to Capture Impactful Environmental Portraits of Strangers (Video)
Posted: 19 Jul 2013 12:26 PM PDT
No macro lens? No problem! Now you can get those lovely, detailed close-up shots without investing in another pricey lens. How? By converting one of your regular lenses into a macro lens with an affordable accessory: a reversing ring. It may sound strange to the uninitiated, but a reversing ring allows you to mount your lens onto your camera backwards. Somehow, (we won’t explore the physics of it here) this arrangement allows your lens to capture surprisingly impressive macro images. Photographer Mike Browne, who regularly puts out online tutorials, demonstrates this clever trick in the following video:
The only downside is that this setup disables all automatic functions, so you’ll have to adjust focus, exposure, etc. manually. Browne takes viewers step-by-step on how to shoot macro with a reversing ring.
1. Buy a reversing ring.
Make sure it matches the lens you plan to use it with (i.e. 50 mm ring for a 50 mm lens).
2. Attach the ring.
Screw the ring onto the front of your lens of choice (where filters would normally go); be careful not to do it too tightly.
3. Attach the lens.
Screw the end with the ring on it onto your camera as you would any lens. Make sure you’re in manual mode before you begin shooting.
4. Fix the aperture.
To let enough light in, you’ll have to force open the aperture lever the front of your reversed lens (the side that is normally attached to the camera). A bit of masking tape can do the trick.
5. Fine-tune your settings.
Adjust your exposure and fine-tune your focus using the focusing ring. To get the correct exposure, increase your shutter speed until your camera indicates that the exposure is balanced.
Expert tip: If you’re using a zoom lens with your reversing ring, you can still utilize the zooming, which Browne considers to be an advantage over macro lenses. Additionally, though it might seem counterintuitive, shooting at a lower millimeter setting allows super-macro capabilities. See below for examples.
Shot at 70 mm:
Shot at 18 mm:
Though this technique may take a little extra work, it kind of sounds fun, doesn’t it? (And can certainly save a few hundred dollars.)
Go to full article: Neat Trick if you Need a Macro Lens in a Pinch (Video)
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