September 19, 2014, 05:55:04 AM

Author Topic: Depth of Field, composition and thinking it through...  (Read 5451 times)

SandyP

  • Guest
Depth of Field, composition and thinking it through...
« on: July 30, 2012, 05:57:09 AM »
We all love it. For the most part, big blurred background, we're all "guilty" of doing it. And we always will be.


But find yourself flipping through the countless greatest image makers of all time, portraits, street, sport, fine art, and more, and the vast majority of it is with lots of depth of field (like f/5.6, f/8, f/11 and smaller like f/22).

Now, simply because one did things one way, doesn't mean we have to as well. BUT, I'm finding that it's a far greater challenge, and a far greater pay off, to KNOW WHEN to use small apertures and know when to use big ones.

Composition is far more difficult when you need to think about what is in the background and the foreground. If you can simply blur the background out completely then it hardly matters in most cases. And that's fine. As I said, I do this too. And in many cases it's very cool, and is pleasing for subject separation.


However, having said this, some of the greatest photographers of the past, AND of our present time, often use lots of depth of field. We NEED context in many photos.


This year, I have started to stop down far more often in many situations, to show more context. To gain more depth. To show MORE. It has made composition harder in many cases, but has also paid off.




Let's see your deeper depth of field portraits, group shots, candid moments, whatever. I'll dig out a few. Let's say.... f/5.6 or beyond. :)


This one was from last year, it's on medium format film, a photo of my girlfriend as we walked around, I was testing a new (at that time anyway) camera for me, the Mamiya 645.


This is f/16




kirsten at sunny f/16 by Sandy Phimester, on Flickr

canon rumors FORUM

Depth of Field, composition and thinking it through...
« on: July 30, 2012, 05:57:09 AM »

sandymandy

  • 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 599
    • View Profile
Re: Depth of Field, composition and thinking it through...
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2012, 06:21:03 AM »
I think the background of the photo doesnt add anything to the image in this case. Its just a tree, some houses and a tower. Plus its blurred also when u check full size. The focus is totally on this girls face and the fence.

But i like ur thinking :) I think its just hard in places that we percieve as "normal" to include an environment thats really standing out and gets ones attention. Like in war photography sure u can use lots of DOF because the area alone is totally different than what most of us see on ur daily routes. E.g. 3rd world photos, just the way people live there in poor areas gets to the heart often.

Hillsilly

  • 1D Mark IV
  • ******
  • Posts: 760
    • View Profile
Re: Depth of Field, composition and thinking it through...
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2012, 07:33:38 AM »
Yes, but isn't f/16 in medium format the same as f/2 in "full frame"?  (and the same as f/64 in a proper camera).

But, seriously, I think you're on the right track.  I recently compiled a short list of favourites.  They were all, "this is the time we went to....", "this is the time we did.....", "this is ......'s birthday party".  No offence to great portraits with non-distracting backgrounds, but I think people do relate more to a picture with context.

This is also becoming more evident with photo judging, too.  Ten years ago, winning wildlife photos tended to be in-your-face close ups from long lenses.  Now, photos with a "wildlife in its natural environment" focus are getting more attention.  Its funny how tastes change.   
1000FN | 7E | 3000 | 3 | LS-100TS

NormanBates

  • 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 489
  • www.similaar.com
    • View Profile
    • www.similaar.com
Re: Depth of Field, composition and thinking it through...
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2012, 07:42:43 AM »
In terms of depth of field, f/16 in medium format (60mm) is like f/10 on full frame, and like f/6 on APS-C
http://www.similaar.com/foto/doftest/doftest.html

siebzehn

  • Guest
Re: Depth of Field, composition and thinking it through...
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2012, 07:58:25 AM »
SandyP asked an very interesting quotation.
In my opinion a lot of us got very fractionated by there fast primes. And realising to have a hammer in there hands so every problem looks like a nail.
More DOF gives you a lot of challenges. You have to get your subject to the right location so you have to know some locations. There are more elements in the picture so composition gets more complex. You have to use light to separate your subject and the background and so on.
I like to start with the question "Is there some reason to go for a small DOF?" and if there is no reason go and solve the problems.

Murdy

  • SX50 HS
  • **
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
Re: Depth of Field, composition and thinking it through...
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2012, 09:10:47 AM »
Lol. It doesn't matter if you get it wrong, because afterwards you can just say you meant to do it. Lol!

pz-photography

  • Power Shot G16
  • **
  • Posts: 28
    • View Profile
Re: Depth of Field, composition and thinking it through...
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2012, 09:38:01 AM »
Today my mother called me and said: "At the wedding of your cousin you took this pictures where the background is blurry again. That looks terrible, that hurts on the eye."
So I startet to think about exactly this problem. Of course the pictures she ment were portraits of the bride, in front of some trees, so its perfectly fine for me to shoot wide open (wide open means 5D III + 85 1.2 II from 1.2 to 1.8, so really wide open). But when I took group shots it was alway 35 1.4 @ 5.6, so lots of DOF and they were perfectly fine. The general conclusion I draw out of it is, that a lot "non creative" people aren't that much into shallow DOF and they like it more when everything is in focus. Maybe thats another reason why so many "popular" photos have a lot of DOF. Just my 2 cents....
5D Mark III | 7D | 1V HS | 14 2.8L II | 35 1.4L | 50 1.2L| 85 1.2L II | 100 2.8L IS | 24-105 4.0L IS| 70-200 2.8L IS II | EF 2x III

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Depth of Field, composition and thinking it through...
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2012, 09:38:01 AM »

picturesbyme

  • Canon 70D
  • ****
  • Posts: 255
    • View Profile
    • AtlanticPicture.com
Re: Depth of Field, composition and thinking it through...
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2012, 11:40:40 AM »
I think it all depends on the photo. Whatever you are trying to capture and show... Usually a story, a face, a thought, a vision, or ...... 
Why follow what the "greatest" image makers were doing and for who knows what reason..?
I try to do my own as much as possible and learn from it, not copying others or to be influenced by others.  Obviously I make a lot of mistakes but I think that's part of it.
Someone said  "Even if you fall flat on your face at least you are moving forward" :))

Alicia f7.1 - because the stormy ocean and the clouds suppose to be part of the image..

Lilia f9 - b/c the waves and sunny beach is complementing the beautiful girl having a great time...

Alicia f2.8 b/c the background is clearly not what I was "focusing" on ...

SandyP

  • Guest
Re: Depth of Field, composition and thinking it through...
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2012, 05:04:50 PM »
Yes, but I'm not necessarily always talking about the decision to have interesting backgrounds or not. I think that is certainly a factor in many cases, but in many posed situations you CAN make those creative decisions anyways, often times before we go out and do bigger shoots we'll scout locations a few days ahead of time with some cameras and take a few test frames at each spot. It's not always helpful, but usually it is.

I think it was meant to be more about simple composition and not letting the harder focused back image conflict too much with the front one. Composition for many, in many situations is about what's always on the one 2 dimensional line (I realize that photos are all 2D), but when you're taking them, before the photo is captured you're having to think more about background composition with your subject(s).

And yes, the original post does say that it all depends, and it's more about knowing when and why you want to stop down the lens, and how much.

When I first got my 50L I wanted to shoot everything wide open. And did, mostly. Same when I got my 645 camera and the 80mm f/1.9 lens. Wide open. But after a while I realized it was often a crutch. So now it's more about those clear choices.

I do think that lost of people who do not understand the basics of photography, like the mother at the wedding, or what not, are fascinated by the blur in the background and believe it sets things apart from the aunt or uncle with the kit lens and consumer body who shoot on Auto and regularly are at f/13 or f/6.3 or whatever. But also, just taking note from very well established and very groundbreaking photographers, it's more about the ultimate choice to know when to stop down, and why. For instance, many of the photos that have really changed the world, or will always be remembered, (or not, or just some of the better recognized photographers) are showing a lot of context in their work, which usually means showing more in the photo, not less.


I'm shooting at 28 weddings this season, and then the other shooting with models each week, and I've been taking this into account far more this year than the last two of shooting more seriously. I think it also comes from shooting far more film this year for my projects and work related shooting. Sometimes you're not always given the option to shoot at 1/8000 and f/1.2 at ISO 50 and then 10 minutes later set it the other way around with f/11 at ISO 800 and 1/250 or whatever. Sometimes it's less flexible if you're not 100% prepared, which often it's not worth it to be with film, lately though, I guess I'm adapting to that. But still, not all systems are built with super fast lenses anyways, and I feel much better working with those limits in that space. Especially with medium format, which is what the vast majority of my work is done with.

RLPhoto

  • Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II
  • *******
  • Posts: 3452
  • Gear doesn't matter, Just a Matter of Convenience.
    • View Profile
    • My Portfolio
Re: Depth of Field, composition and thinking it through...
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2012, 07:11:34 PM »
Bokeh! 8)

sandymandy

  • 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 599
    • View Profile
Re: Depth of Field, composition and thinking it through...
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2012, 05:34:17 AM »
Now, photos with a "wildlife in its natural environment" focus are getting more attention.  Its funny how tastes change.

Probably cuz the environment gets destroyed more and more. U cant be sure today if u can still take photos of wildlife tigers in 10 years for example. Or maybe even certain areas or rain forests.
Not funny i think :(

trentchau

  • PowerShot G1 X II
  • ***
  • Posts: 41
    • View Profile
Re: Depth of Field, composition and thinking it through...
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2012, 12:40:38 AM »
Sandy knows it, but for those who don't...it's more than just aperture that controls DOF.

DOF is

1) Aperture
2) Distance from subject
3) MM of lens
4) Distance of background/foreground elements from subject.

Saying that you can shoot F16 all you want, get large dofs, but also get DOF effect by focusing on your subject which is right there in front of you and getting that background blurry.  I agree with everything Sandy wrote in this paragraph

"I do think that lost of people who do not understand the basics of photography, like the mother at the wedding, or what not, are fascinated by the blur in the background and believe it sets things apart from the aunt or uncle with the kit lens and consumer body who shoot on Auto and regularly are at f/13 or f/6.3 or whatever. But also, just taking note from very well established and very groundbreaking photographers, it's more about the ultimate choice to know when to stop down, and why. For instance, many of the photos that have really changed the world, or will always be remembered, (or not, or just some of the better recognized photographers) are showing a lot of context in their work, which usually means showing more in the photo, not less. "

But also remember if you want a group of people in a photo you don't have to go to f11, you can step back, shoot a little wider, and shoot 5.6 and get everyone.


nightbreath

  • 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 456
    • View Profile
    • Свадебный фотограф в Днепропетровске
Re: Depth of Field, composition and thinking it through...
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2012, 12:51:33 AM »


Wedding photography. My personal website: http://luxuryphoto.com.ua

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Depth of Field, composition and thinking it through...
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2012, 12:51:33 AM »

sandymandy

  • 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 599
    • View Profile
Re: Depth of Field, composition and thinking it through...
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2012, 09:53:33 AM »
last photo looks like judo throw lol

TrumpetPower!

  • 1D Mark IV
  • ******
  • Posts: 951
    • View Profile
Re: Depth of Field, composition and thinking it through...
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2012, 12:06:11 PM »
I recently did some passport-style head shots of a couple musicians with the 180 macro at f/11. In retrospect, I wish I had stopped down more -- the hair against the white background is softer than it should be.

So there -- portraiture with a slow macro stopped way down, but still not enough. Go figure.

Cheers,

b&

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Depth of Field, composition and thinking it through...
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2012, 12:06:11 PM »