Part two – Project 1 – Exercise 2.6
“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.”
I carried out this exercise hand-held using a Canon 70D with either a Canon 70-300mm lens f/4-5.6 or Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens. The 70-300mm lens meant I was restricted on the aperture I could use at the long end, the minimum being f/5.6. Saying that I think I managed to achieve the shallow depth of field required for the exercise but could not demonstrate in the extreme the effect of a long focal length with a wide aperture but could with a close viewpoint. As a result of this restriction, for the aperture test, I switched lenses so I could achieve a wider range of apertures.
For the first sequence I varied the focal length from a static position. The subject was approx. 3m from me and about the same distance from the background…
For the second sequence I varied the aperture using a fixed focal length of 50mm (ff 80mm). 50mm on a cropped sensor being just at the shorter end of the range for a portrait. I was closer to the subject for this exercise approx. 1m and the distance from the background was longer at about 4m…
Just for fun I made some ‘improvements’ in Lightroom and added a filter….
For the final sequence I varied the focal length AND varied the viewpoint to try to keep the subject in a consistent position… .
Both images used a shutter speed of 1/160 sec. and an f-number of 5.6 but the first image was at 70mm framing head and shoulders and the second at 300mm using the same framing.
I noticed from my experimentation that to achieve a shallower depth of field the subject benefitted from being a distance from the background and closer to the lens, in combination with a longer focal length and wider aperture. This conclusion supports the course text.
“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.”
It is worth noting that “…the camera’s viewfinder image is obtained at maximum aperture for maximum brightness and therefore at the shallowest depth of field.” So using the depth of field button on your camera can give you a better guide as to the depth of field which will be achieved at any given aperture.
This completes my submission for Exercise 2.6. You can access Exercise 2.7 here.