Thursday, 19 June 2014

How to Use Depth of Field

How to Use Depth of Field

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How to Use Depth of Field

Posted: 18 Jun 2014 08:04 PM PDT

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What do we mean by depth of field? The term refers to the amount of detail in the photograph that is in focus. A typical landscape photograph will will show detail over a long distance, all of which will be in focus and recognizable by the viewer.

depth of field photo

“Cooper” captured by Terri Cage (Click Image to See More From Terri Cage)

A head and shoulders portrait will usually work best if only the face is in sharp focus. Often the background will be blurred and out of focus in order to remove any distractions.

Two questions usually pop up here:

  • Why is this a good thing?
  • How do you achieve it?
O.K., first things first. Why would you want a blurred background?

Being able to produce this effect at will is very handy and can turn a mediocre or boring photograph into something much more attractive. The landscape photograph mentioned above doesn’t really have a focal point. You’re not really sure of exactly what the photographer was aiming at when he took it. This works with a typical calendar landscape shot as it will be trying to present a broad, sweeping view.

The portrait example is very different. It’s obvious immediately what the main subject is because it is separated from the background clutter. The main subject is the only thing you can focus on, so your eye is drawn straight to it. If you’re taking a shot from a long distance it is possible to isolate the subject both from the foreground and the background using this technique known as depth of field.

What we want to do is focus on the main subject in the scene. The area that remains in focus is the ‘field’ in the term ‘depth of field’. The ‘depth’ bit is the distance of the in-focus area measured from front to back.

This can all be manipulated by the photographer to suit the particular image. The landscape and the portrait mentioned above are two extremes but there are many subjects that fall between the two.

How do we achieve this effect?

There are two things you have control over that affect depth of field when using an SLR camera.

  • the focal length of the lens
  • the aperture setting
landscape depth of field

Photo captured by ARIX (Click Image to See More From ARIX)

I’ll go into more detail about these two settings in another article, but put simply the focal length of a lens is the feature you are changing when moving a zoom lens within its zoom range. The aperture refers to the hole the light passes through when the shutter opens. This is changed by moving the aperture ring, which is the nearest one to the camera body, and is measured in units known as f-stops. When changing aperture settings you need to keep an eye on the shutter speed. Look through your camera’s auto modes and set it on one which will allow you to change the aperture settings, but will automatically set the shutter speed for you. This is often referred to as ‘aperture priority mode’.

Aperture setting

The most important item to control is the aperture setting. The larger the aperture used, the smaller the depth of field range.

Free Depth of Field Calculator

At one time, lens manufacturers used to include depth of field guide marks on their lenses, but no longer do so. If you would like a handy little replacement for these marks, something that will let you quickly and easily gauge the effects of different focal lengths and aperture settings, there are a number of free utilities available on the web. A quick search via your favorite search engine will turn up a number of them.

Practice makes perfect

You need to familiarize yourself with how this technique works and how it affects your photographs. Remember that, with a digital camera there is no expense involved in shooting practice photographs. You get the results straightaway and you don’t have to pay for developing any film, so there is no excuse for not practicing.

You can even practice indoors if the weather’s poor. Standing a couple of items on your kitchen table and shooting them from a few feet away will soon give you an idea of how this works.

A good way to develop your feel for the depth of field effect, as well as any other techniques you may wish to brush up on, is to use a technique known as ‘bracketing’ your exposures. Put simply, this just means taking a number of photographs with different camera settings so that you can compare the results.

  1. Stand three coffee mugs on a diagonal line near the middle of your kitchen table then stand back a couple of paces. Set your camera on fully auto and focus on the mug in the centre of the line and take your first shot. It’s good to have a pen and paper so that you can make notes of the camera settings for each shot otherwise you’re likely to forget how things were set up for a particular shot, especially if you take quite few.
  2. Now take another shot, but focus on one of the other mugs, followed by a third focusing on the last mug.
  3. Set your camera to its aperture priority mode. This will allow you to select an aperture setting and the camera will vary the shutter speed to get the correct exposure. Now take a series of three shots as you did before. Make a note of your camera settings for each one.
  4. Open the aperture one stop and repeat. Do this with a variety of aperture settings, making notes as you go.

You can now load the photos onto your computer and compare the results. You should now have a good idea about how varying the aperture affects the resulting depth of field.

aperture and depth

“sutton bank winter day” captured by Jo Mounsey (Click Image to See More From Jo Mounsey)

Go through this exercise again varying the focal length of your zoom lens if your camera has one. You will soon get to grips with the technique so try it out on a larger scale and notice the difference it makes to your work.

About the Author:
This articles was written by Mike Pepper ( who operates a site with guides to help you take eye catching and in-demand images, where to find them and where to sell them.

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Found here: Understanding Post-Processing

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Water Droplet Photography Tips

Posted: 18 Jun 2014 07:35 PM PDT

Do you love taking pictures? If so, this is a new and exciting way to take awesome photos that will have your friends and family talking! The best part is that you can do this at any time of year or time of day, and you don’t have to leave your home to do it. I will show you how to photograph water droplets for some downright amazing images!

water droplet photography

Photo captured by Jeff Carson (Click Image to See More From Jeff Carson)

Start by mounting your camera on a tripod in front of your setup.

Using your viewfinder, make sure you background color is reflecting strongly off the water. Try using a piece of magazine as a target to get your camera ready for focus. I stick with using an aperture of f/4 to f/4.5 to make sure the depth of field is still keeping the drop sharp while blurring the background.

Make sure your setup is well-lit with flash units, then dim the room lights.

Set a fast shutter speed.

I have found that an eye dropper works best for making a drip. Squeeze out a drop, and start by manually flashing. Then continue till you achieve your desired result! Your hardest task is going to be timing!

Your best method is going to be trial and error. It does take some practice. After about a dozen shots, you will start getting in sync with your camera and your amazing pics will be proof!

Another method is to use a sound-activated or motion-detecting device that will automatically make your flash units trigger.

how to photograph water droplets

“Droplet” captured by vjekoslav antic (Click Image to See More From vjekoslav antic)

Creating your Shape

  1. Crown shapes. You need to fill the receptacle with liquid to about 1 centimeter or less.
  2. Column shape. Your are going to need to add a tad more liquid. Plain water works best, so no need to waste your time trying anything else. It’s cost effective and reflective!


Have fun with this. There are several different ways you could go:

  1. Go all black with a beautiful wine glass as your receptacle.
  2. Use bright, fun colors underneath your container; it creates a fun, upbeat effect!
  3. Try placing some colorful stones in the bottom of the dish.
  4. Wrapping paper works great. Make sure your receptacle is a contrasting color to really make it pop out at you.

At about 120 degrees, water drops will reflect a given area. Your background doesn’t have to be huge since it is only going to be sitting about 3 inches behind the receptacle.

water drop photo

Photo captured by Jeff Carson (Click Image to See More From Jeff Carson)

I hope you now have learned how to photograph water droplets and are well on your way to making stunning photos to show to your family and friends!

About the Author
This article was written by Brooks Carver from antiquecuckooclocks dot net.

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How to Set Up a Remote DSLR for Professional Basketball Photography (Video)

Posted: 18 Jun 2014 07:13 PM PDT

From slam dunks to graceful tip-ins, shots taken from basketball’s action epicenter–the net–capture some of the most intense moments during a game. At the NCAA Men’s Final Four in Dallas, Texas, the stakes are high for players and sports photographers alike. Brett Whilhelm of Wilhelm Visual Works came up with an effective and safe backboard camera system to capture these exclusive shots:

Fastened to the backboard with redundant magic arms and safety cables (and a whole lot of tape) the cameras have the strength and security needed in the midst of action.

The camera, a Nikon D4s with a 17-35mm lens, gets set at 1/800 of a second at f/5. The ISO is set surprisingly high at 6,400, due to the fact that the added circular polarizing filter cuts the aperture f-stops by about two. Hardware is installed to trigger the shutter, instead of a radio transmitter, greatly reducing the chance of interference.

Regardless of the type of photography, composition is always important. During the games, one camera faces straight down at the basket while another is set with a wider composition to incorporate logos. The focus is set eight feet in front of the basket. This is most often the space where players' faces are when they're working their magic.

But in high pressure situations, there is nothing more important than having a juiced up battery. Wilhelm explains the setup:

“We run AC power in the camera so we can mount it early in the week, and we don't worry about having to change batteries. We keep the camera on and live the entire time.”

The product of all these meticulous details is drool-worthy photographs on high demand. The images are live streamed back to a server, where editors busily edit and caption the photos to wire to national and international news agencies.


Black gaffers tape is used to secure everything into place.

A lot of inspiration can be taken from Wilhelm’s technique to create personal backboard set ups. Listed below are a few tips for capturing your own backboard shots:

  • Protect yourself, others, and your gear. Secure the camera well with Magic Arms or clamps, Gaffers tape, and a safety line.
  • Get up close and personal with the players. Use wider lenses like 40mm or less
  • Hard wiring your camera to trigger might not be necessary in most cases. Trigger your shots with wireless transmitters or a remote.
  • To freeze the action, try faster shutter speeds: 1/200 or higher.
  • Get creative and experiment with your camera's settings and backboard setup.

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Article from: PictureCorrect Photography Tips

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