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Author Topic: Shallow depth of feild.......... HOW ??  (Read 2238 times)

scott72

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Shallow depth of feild.......... HOW ??
« on: March 29, 2012, 07:16:24 PM »
I am using a Canon 50D with a 50mm f/1.2L lens and a Speedlite 580EX II. For portraits. Here's my question. How can I blurr the backbground/get a shallow depth of field when using these tools in daylight? The only way I can acheive that is by not using the Speedlite but would really like to for "fill in flash", to get rid of some shadows. When I do use the Speedlite f-stop jumps to somthing like f11. I've tried it on manual and aperture priority mode and still can't seem to get the background blurred while using a Speedlite in daylight. Is there a trick to this? Can really use some information from you guys out there. Thanks, y'all have a nice day.

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Shallow depth of feild.......... HOW ??
« on: March 29, 2012, 07:16:24 PM »

JR

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Re: Shallow depth of feild.......... HOW ??
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2012, 07:33:24 PM »
Did you try high speed sync with your flash enabling you to shot at higher speed and therefore with a smaller aperture?
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CanineCandidsByL

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Re: Shallow depth of feild.......... HOW ??
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2012, 07:35:01 PM »
In short, you need a small aperture, but you know that already.

Options for getting that small aperture:
1. Faster shutter speeds (to reduce light)
2. lower iso (to reduce sensitivity to light)
3. Dark location (less light)
4. Neutral density filter (to reduce light)

I'm assuming the first two can't go any further and the third is a non-option, so that leaves a neutral density filter like landscape guys often use. A variable density filter (good ones are ~$300+) will give you the most options, but have to be screwed on/off. Fixed density are available as screw-on and drop-in type for systems that stay attached to the front of your lens.  I'm thinking that's the way I would go.

Hope it helps.

pz-photography

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Re: Shallow depth of feild.......... HOW ??
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2012, 07:36:13 PM »
The key to shallow DOF is to keep small (minimum) focus distance and a large apperture ;) so with a 50 1.2 you shouldn't have any problems to get a shallow dept of field. It sounds like you use some kind of automatic mode and the camera is doing whatever it wants. Try using full manual mode (ALSO MANUAL FLASH!).
So here some basic steps:
If youre in bright daylight, your camera won't allow you to use really wide appertures (like 1.2) because the shutter only goes to 1/8000s --> solution? use an ND filter! Something like ND .6 should be enough ;)
Then you can brighten up a little by using your speedlite with high speed sync
Like I said: The best way is to do it all manually, you can't write something like "the f-stop jumps"...that means you are using the P mode oder Tv oder something worse....got to Av oder Manual, thats the only way to really control the apperture, the key factor to shallow DOF!
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pz-photography

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Re: Shallow depth of feild.......... HOW ??
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2012, 07:39:31 PM »
I think I didn't really point it out:
The REAL KEY FACTOR and by far the most important one BESIDES APPERTURE is the focus distance! You can only get shallow DOF if your subject is close in comparison to the background! With a 50 1.2 lets say your subject is 3-5 feet away and youre shooting with 1.2, that shoud enable really shallow DOF!
Look here at the 4th shot, thats a 50 1.2 @ 1.2 with a 7D (so crop sensor) with a really close subject. The only reason why everybody is saying that going full frame gives you a lot more shallow DOF is because you can go closer to the subject and have the same framing with a crop sensor and more distance. If you have the same distance the bokeh from a 85 1.2 on a 7D and a 5D II look exactly the same (try it out if you don't belive me, I did many years ago ;) ). It's just that you have a lot less "subject" on your picture with a cropped sensor ;)
« Last Edit: March 29, 2012, 07:44:25 PM by pz-photography »
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TrumpetPower!

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Re: Shallow depth of feild.......... HOW ??
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2012, 08:01:33 PM »
If you're in bright light outdoors, instead of using on-camera fill flash, consider using a reflector. It can be something as simple as an uncut sheet of mat board / foamcore / etc. Even better, get one of those silvery window reflectors you put over your dashboard on a hot day, and you've got something that folds up nicely -- and probably even in your choice of silver or gold (for a warming effect). You'll automatically get a good fill ratio with perfectly balanced color rendition, plus it'll be coming from a much larger (and therefore softer) source than the pinpoint of the flash.

Depending on the shooting location, you can even do without either by strategic placement of the subject and the sun and your surroundings. Look for pavement or (neutral-colored) walls to act as your reflector, as well as shade for the model. Keep in mind that the kinds of light levels you're talking about will make your model want to squint, so you might even want to get a translucent white umbrella (or the like) to put some shade on the model and, again, soften out the light and reduce the contrast of the scene.

The next thing you want to do is put as much distance as you can between your model and the background. With a 50 on a 1.6x crop body, if your model can touch the background, it's going to only be slightly out of focus. If your subject can take a step and touch the background, that's still probably not what you're looking for. Ten feet should start to get into the not-bad range. You're not going to ever have too much distance between your model and the background.

If even that's not enough, the answer is to start spending money. A longer focal length with an equal or bigger pupil will do the trick, with the ultimate in the Canon lineup being the 600 f/4 (and the 400 f/2.8 right behind). You'll need a megaphone or a walkie-talkie for your model to hear you, though, and you'll need a mule to haul the lens. And a five-figure credit limit to buy it. But also consider a "sleeper" lens like the 100 f/2 -- inexpensive, damned good quality, and a much shallower depth of field (once you back up to get the same framing) as your 50 f/1.2.

A larger format with an equivalent field-of-view lens will do the trick, too; an 85 f/1.8 on a 5D will have lots shallower depth of field than your 50 f/1.2 (or even the 100 f/2) on your 50D, even though the framing will be basically identical. And a 135 f/2.8 on medium format will be shallower still, again with the same framing. You could almost trade your 50D + 50 f/1.2 for a classic 5D and an 85 f/1.8, but a medium format system will cost more than the Canon supertelephoto.

Cheers,

b&

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Re: Shallow depth of feild.......... HOW ??
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2012, 08:16:01 PM »
What's with the "small aperture" business, people?  The OP needs a large aperture (small f-number) for thin DoF, but can't get it with flash because the shutter speed is limited to 1/200 s.

The solutions are correct, though - set the flash to high speed sync (HSS), or use an ND filter.  The problem with both is flash power.  HSS dramatically reduced flash output, and while ND filters block ambient light, enabling the wider aperture, they also block the flash output just as efficiently (obviously).  So, the bottom line is that with HSS or an ND filter you can get a shallow DoF in bright ambient light, but you'll be limited to just a little bit of fill light from the 580EX II.  If you want to actually overpower the sunlight, you need more flash power, especially if you want to soften that fill lighting with modifiers. So, many outdoor portrait shooters turn either to arrays of strobes (3-4 flashes in a softbox, usually Yongnuo/Nissin flashes and 'dumb' radio triggers to keep things affordable, and/or monolights with lithium battery packs for portability - that's the sort of power needed to overcome direct sun.
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Re: Shallow depth of feild.......... HOW ??
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2012, 08:16:01 PM »

TrumpetPower!

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Re: Shallow depth of feild.......... HOW ??
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2012, 08:24:02 PM »
That's the sort of power needed to overcome direct sun.

...which is why I'm trying to steer scott72 away from fill flash in the first place.

I mean, the sun is an amazing, wonderful, incredible, beautiful light source. if you're going to try to overpower it, why be outside at all?

Work with the sun. Don't fight it. The sun is your friend!

Cheers,

b&

tt

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Re: Shallow depth of feild.......... HOW ??
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2012, 08:42:11 PM »
For the location?
Shooting into the sun but still wanting shallow depth of field would be one example. Or wanting the background a stop darker, or as the OP said - to fill in some shadows.

Overcoming the sun allows you to basically have control of the light and set be lighting to what you want, instead I the point source sunlight ruling the picture.

Another step is to wait for it to get darker! For a give. Flash/strobe power - there will be an upper limit as to what ambient background light you can overpower/modify
Eg if it's f4 at your settings for the background ambient and you want to have the background 1 stop darker,
You'd need enough Ws to have light at f 5.6.
Stacking up canon flashes to double up power - easily gets forge stage where it becomes worth looking at a higher power Einstein flash with portable battery pack.

Anyone got rough settings for what a EX II 580 could give out
Eg f4, 1/200 with x stops of ND wanting to knock te background down 1 stop?


scott72

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Re: Shallow depth of feild.......... HOW ??
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2012, 08:43:05 PM »
Hey you guys(in my Sloth voice)! Thanks for responding and thanks for all the amazing info! I need to definitley try a bit of everything that was mentioned here. I guess what it also comes down to is practice, practice, practice ........ shoot, shoot, shoot! Hope you guys have a nice evening! Cheers!

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Re: Shallow depth of feild.......... HOW ??
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2012, 12:01:25 AM »
Hey you guys(in my Sloth voice)! Thanks for responding and thanks for all the amazing info! I need to definitley try a bit of everything that was mentioned here. I guess what it also comes down to is practice, practice, practice ........ shoot, shoot, shoot! Hope you guys have a nice evening! Cheers!

To use your lens wide open in bright sun, get a ND filter.  Otherwise, you will need to use a very small aperture to avoid over exposure.  A ND filter is a good tool to have handy.
 
Also, get close to your supject as you can and preserve framing, and have some distance between them and any background.
 
Here is a 35mmL shot at f/1.4 from a minimum focus distance.  You can see how getting close gives a tiny depth of field.
 

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Re: Shallow depth of feild.......... HOW ??
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2012, 12:01:25 AM »