Depth Of Field

Depth Of Field

What is depth of field in photography, and how do you control it?

There are many terms which relate to a shallow or large depth of field in photography and photographers will bandy about these terms such as “hyperfocal distance”, “creamy bokeh”, “shooting wide open”, “background blur”, “subject separation”, or “zone of focus”.

The question is, what exactly is depth of field?

Focus

Depth of field simply describes how much of your photograph is in focus in its most important and basic sense. A large depth of field would make sure that in a landscape shot everything from the trees all the way back to the mountains would be in focus if you were to shoot a landscape image of forest and mountains, that is.

By contrast, a shallow depth of field would leave a background of trees and mountains out of focus if there was a subject whose facial features needed to be in focus in the foreground if we are shooting a portrait in that same location.

 

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Exactly how deep the field of focus within an image is is always described by and referred to as depth of field. This field will roughly extend from one third in front of your focal point to two thirds behind it no matter how shallow or large it is.

Manipulation

A number of photographic means can be used to manipulate this. Changing aperture directly affects depth of field: using a small aperture, which is a large f-number like f/16, will produce a large depth of field – ideal for shooting a landscape where you want as much of the scene in focus as possible.

For a shallow depth of field you would be using a large aperture, such as a small f-number like f/1.8 – perfect for portraits, where you want the subject in focus but the background blurred. When someone shoots “wide open”, they’re usually shooting at a lens’ maximum aperture to create the shallowest depth of field possible (to get the blurriest background).

 

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Focal Length

Depth of field is also controlled by focal length. A shallower depth of field is produced by shooting a portrait with a 135mm lens, thanks to its narrower field of view and greater magnification, than a 35mm lens shot with the same composition.

Depth of field is also affected by sensor size as well. With a crop sensor camera, you need to multiply the aperture by the crop factor to get the equivalent aperture in 35mm terms. Therefore with a Micro Four Thirds camera, which has a 2x crop factor, shooting at f/2 is actually shooting at an equivalent aperture – and an equivalent depth of field – of f/4.

Creative choice is what ultimately affects the depth of field. Landscapes don’t have to be sharp from front to back just as much as portraits don’t need to have blurry backgrounds. There really is no right or wrong way to use it so long as your subject is within your depth of field and is sharp.

Words by Elijah (Content Marketer) via Digital Camera World.

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Depth Of Field

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Stroboscopic Portraits

Stroboscopic Portraits

Use your unit’s strobe function to achieve rapid-fire flash and capture incredible staccato action.

 

Pulsing Flash

A pulsing flash that fires lots of times during a long exposure can create a stop-motion effect by freezing the action multiple times as the subject moves through the frame. It’s an interesting technique to try on any moving subject and it is known as stroboscopic flash. All you need is a dark space, a tripod and a speed light with a stroboscopic or ‘multi’ mode.

There are three distinct ways that timing plays a part. First there’s the timing of the flash – you can choose the number of flashes and determine how quickly they fire, so you’ll get varying results depending on the flash count and frequency.

There’s a good deal of trial and error involved in nailing a pose since actions that might look graceful in real time can result in a jumbled mess when used with stroboscopic effect so timing and flow of the subject’s motion is key.

There can be dramatic changes depending on the split second that the shutter button is engaged – shooting the same sequence twice will most likely yield different results – so there is an art to pressing the shutter button at the right moment.

But part of the charm here is that it is unpredictable. Until you look down at the LCD after the exposure you simply won’t know what you’re getting. But, the results are definitely worth it when the lighting, posing, and timing come together in harmony.

 

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Set The Exposure

Exposure is the starting point of this process. Take a couple of test shots with your camera set to manual, shutter speed at around 1 second, aperture to f/11 and ISO100. Close down the aperture to lower the ISO if the background is too bright.

 

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Control The Flash Count

Most speed lights enable you to set two strobo controls; the Hz (Hertz) setting controls the flashes-per-sec, and the flash count determines total flashes. With flash count 10 at 8 Hz, you’ll get 10 bursts over 0.8 secs. Dividing the Hz by the count will give you the shutter speed.

 

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Position The Light

You can illuminate the edge of the subject by placing the light behind the subject to one side. You’ll need to keep the effect from looking too muddled so this part of the process will enable you to emphasize the shape of the subject while still leaving the shadow areas.

 

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Flash Power

Your flash power will be lower the more flashed there are per second. You may need to bring the flash closer or adjust the exposure to compensate for the fact that higher Hz and higher flash counts mean lower output. Try increasing your ISO or opening up the aperture if it looks too dark.

 

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Fluid Posing

Try different poses with your subject as the results of strobo flash are unpredictable. Ask the subject to keep the body still and move the arms or have them move from one side to another. Fluid motion works best, as it means the various flashes will be more evenly spaced.

 

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Trial and Error

A stroboscopic session will involve its fair share of problem solving and messy misfires. It’s about finding unity between the positioning of the lights, the posing, and the number of flashes. Experiment with the number of flashes as things can often look very busy.

 

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Local Adjustments in Post

To enhance contrast and boost the exposure you can use Photoshop of Lightroom when editing the images. Bits of the pose may not have been caught by the flash so the adjustment brush is useful for lightening those areas. You can paint over the areas you want to enhance by setting up the tool with positive Exposure and Clarity.

 

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Convert to Mono

A black-and-white conversion is a great simplifier, so it’s definitely one to try out here. A stroboscopic effect can sometimes look too busy in colour. In Lightroom or Camera Raw, you can experiment with the different black-and-white presets in the Basic Panel.

 

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Try a Composite

It’s possible to combine several poses with a simple background. This is best done in Photoshop; you can drag and drop the three images into one document and position with the Move tool, then set the blend mode to Lighten, add a layer mask and paint with black to blend them together.

 

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Add Another Flash!

Why not add a second burst of flash? You could try syncing a second speed light with the first so that they both fire in unison, or alternatively pop it manually during the exposure. It adds extra light to one moment in the pose.

You can add shape and definition to your subject by adding an extra single burst, fired manually by pressing the ‘test’ button towards the end of your second-long exposure.

Words by Elijah (Content Marketer) via Digital Camera World.

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Cheap Photography Projects’ Creative Lighting Ideas

Cheap Photography Projects’ Creative Lighting Ideas

Get creative with your images by using these lighting hacks to shoot cheap but conceptual photography.

Beauty in Simplicity

You don’t necessarily need to use top-of-the-line kit in order to capture brilliant photos. To help you inject some creative lighting into your portraits and still life shots here are some fantastic iPad photography hacks. It’s about having fun with your photos by using cheap photography project ideas.

There is a brilliantly versatile little softbox that you are carrying around in your backpack. For illuminating still life images and portraits your tablet or laptop can easily be converted into a light source which makes it more useful than just for editing and sharing photos. Heavy lighting systems are expensive to this portable and cheaper alternative.

In the same way as a softbox does you can use your tablet or laptop screen as a light source opening up to a white screen such as Softbox Pro or even Microsoft Paint and using these programs in a darkened room they will put out a lot of light. To instantly customize the effect with colours and shapes you can choose new backgrounds which is what is so great about a digital lighting system.

 

image

 

Light Source

Using your tablet as a light source we’ll look at a number of different set ups and techniques that you can exploit. Softboxes can light the faces of subjects when shooting portraits and you can get striking results by creating unusual catchlights when experiment with shapes. Food and product shots in the still life setting can also be enhanced by using the simplicity of the tablet light. For really creative photos you can add patterned backgrounds, play with cross-polarisation, or paint with light.

 

image

 

Proper Support

You need to choose your settings carefully as even though tablets and laptops produce lovely soft light there’s not very much of it. Without having to worry about the shutter speed you should choose whatever aperture you need to make the composition work and mounting the camera on a tripod will enable you to do this.

However, because your subject won’t be able to stay still long enough for long exposures you’ll need to increase the ISO if you’re shooting portraits. For example, if using an 18-55mm kit lens at maximum aperture of f/5.6 at maximum zoom setting then an ISO of 1600 will yield shutter speeds in the region of 1/15 sec to 1/30 sec at f/5.6.

 

image

 

Light A Portrait

So that the tablet light is the only thing illuminating your model you’ll need to shoot in a darkened room for this particular technique. To compensate for the low light pick a high ISO and use a tripod for stability. Create a shallow depth of field with an aperture of f/5.6 and use a shutter speed of 1/15 sec. To get a desirable effect adjust the angle setting your tablet at an angle to the model’s face. Laptop screens will work just as well for this technique.

 

image

 

Catchlights

This attractive effect looks like a clever Photoshop trick, but it’s actually very simple to do. To reflect a shape in the catchlight of your model’s eyes load a white shape against a black background onto your screen and use this to light the model’s face. Portraits are the best medium for this to work well. For a striking close-up use a macro lens at f/2.8 to focus on the model’s eye.

 

image

 

Use Live View Focus

Because you need to be sure the key area of your subject is sharp and because there’s not much depth of field it’s important to focus carefully when shooting close-ups. The most accurate method is Live View mode because it uses the image actually captured by the sensor to focus. The focus square should turn green when you half-press the shutter button as the camera focuses on that point after moving the square focus area to the desired part of the picture. However, even a tiny change in the position will change the focus so it’s essential that the camera is on a tripod when you’re setting this up. Live View autofocus is slower than the normal method so you need to be patient.

 

image

 

Light A Still Life

Bright, natural light make still life arrangements, especially food, look a lot better when shot. For even lighting a clamshell arrangement of your tablet or laptop can create a great effect. Using a tripod to get down to the level of what you’re shooting you can then set up the position of your screens on either side of your subject. Being careful to compose the shot so that your screen aren’t in view the angled tablets will give an even light.

 

image

 

Macro Backdrop

If your close-ups lack a certain punch they’ll instantly look much more striking if you position them against a brightly coloured background. If you’re using a shallow depth of field the tablet screen will be slightly out of focus and it won’t be so obvious that it’s not a real background. Using your tablet means you can choose any backdrop, texture or color you like to complement your subject.

 

image

 

Cross Polarisation

Cross polarisation is very easy to do with a tablet and it is a technique that looks impressive. All you need is a polarising filter fitted to your camera, since, unlike other light sources, such as a lightbox, a computer screen is already polarised, so the screen and your attachment will interact to cross-polarise the final image. Place a clear plastic object on your tablet’s screen and position your camera directly overhead using a tripod, then rotate the filter and see what futuristic effects you can create.

 

image

 

Paint With Light

By painting with a moving light source you can illuminate a still life. A torch app downloaded onto your tablet can replace the more traditional method of using a flashlight. Making sure the room is dark set a long exposure of about 5 seconds then press your camera’s shutter button using the beam of light to paint around the object. You can either use the light to illuminate part of the scene or simply draw around the shape. The light will be brighter in the shot according to the slower you move the light.

Words by Elijah (Content Marketer) via Digital Camera World.

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Rear Curtain Sync.

Rear Curtain Sync.

With streaks going in the right direction, this article examines how to capture streaky headlight shots.

 

By combining flash with a long exposure you can achieve some great shots. You can get ghostly movement blur and trails of light from moving light sources if you subject is sharply lit; usually all you need to do is set your camera to slow sync mode and start shooting.

The shutter stays open to record the ambient light and movement blur when in regular slow sync mode since the flash fires at the start of the exposure, but this can be problematic. The effect may look wrong because the blur is travelling ahead of your subject instead of behind it if your subject is clearly heading in a specific direction, for example.

 

image

 

A “pop and burn”, where the flash fires at the end of the exposure, so that the movement trail is behind your subject, is an additional feature of most cameras called a rear curtain sync flash mode (or, second curtain sync).

But slow sync flash isn’t the default mode; when the flash is at the end of the exposure it’s very difficult to time your shots. But, when these types of shots work they look terrific, so it’s worth the effort.

 

image

 

Front Curtain Sync vs. Rear Curtain Sync.

The difference between front curtain sync and rear curtain sync are shown in the two shots above. The light trails that are in front of the bike are the effect of front curtain sync because the flash is fired at the start, or front, of the exposure. The light trails that are behind the bike are the effect of rear curtain sync because the flash us at the end, or rear, of the exposure.

 

image

 

1. Set Up Your Shot.

Carefully plan your composition. You need to frame the shot to allow room behind for the light trail so place your subject in the position you want it to be in when the flash fires with this in mind. The camera won’t track a moving subject in the dark so now is a good time to set the focus.

 

image

 

2. Switch to Manual.

You want a long enough exposure to record the light trail but you still want some of the ambient background light to register from the main light that will come from the flash. Try a one-second exposure at f/5.6 and avoid smaller lens apertures so as not to sap the flash power.

 

image

 

3. Manual Flash Power.

It’s simpler to experiment with the flash power manually in situations like this as opposed to using TTL auto flash. Choose the power setting when you have switched your flash to manual mode; 1/1 is full power, 1/2 is half power, etc. Outdoor shots will require plenty of power.

 

image

 

4. Rear Curtain Sync.

Now change your camera’s flash mode to rear curtain sync or second curtain sync. Some models of camera require hot-shoe add-on to enable the function so check your camera for what method you need to employ to achieve this.

 

image

 

5. Try Some Shots.

Positioning and timing need to be right so you’ll need a willing subject who’s prepared to drive up and down while you get set. It can take some practice to time the shot so that your subject is in position at the end of the exposure and not the start.

 

image

 

6. Final Directions.

You’ll need to give your subject precise instructions in order to get proper control over the timing and length of the light trail. For example, the bike in the shots is only travelling at 12mph even though the shots look fast! To help with focusing get your subject to follow a fixed line through the shot as you experiment with rear curtain sync…

Words by Elijah (Content Marketer) via Digital Camera World.

Photography’s Commitment To The Environment

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With streaks going in the right direction, this article examines how to capture streaky headlight shots.   By combining flash with a long exposure you can achieve some great shots. You can get ghostly movement blur and trails of light from moving light sources if...

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Tips For Using a Snoot in Photography.

Tips For Using a Snoot in Photography.

Learn how to use a “snoot” in your photography to control the light and create theatrical lighting with your hot-shoe flash.

 

Even though it can often be like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut a flashgun is always a handy tool to have in your camera bag. However, in order to turn the flash into a useful creative effect you almost always need extra add-on accessories.

The most unusual name for a flash accessory has to be the snoot. A snoot works by picking out a small area of the scene by converting the light source from a floodlight into a spotlight via the means of a long tube or funnel that attaches to your flashgun.

Say you are photographing portraits against a wall, a snoot can come in very handy. The reason is that your flashgun will still light up the majority of the frame even though most add-on strobes have a zoom head that enables you to narrow the spread of light.

So that some areas of the frame are not lit at all by the flash a snoot restricts the spread to a narrow beam. It’s most effective where you only want one thing on your surface to be highlighted, so it can be used for still-life arrangements and produces a good effect that is also useful for portraits.

The particular type of circumstances where the background is very close behind the subject is where a snoot is of most use. Since light power falls off so sharply with distance, if you are using a snoot wide coverage of the flash tube is not an issue if the background is much further away.

Without a snoot backgrounds can become as well lit as the subject if the wall or backdrop is just behind the subject as in a portrait. This detracts from the atmospheric producing a cold, analytical shot as the result. You can create a much more theatrical effect by using a snoot until just the person’s face is lit.

Since you can make your own light funnel very easily there is no need to spend money on one to get this cool effect even though commercially made snoots are available to fit most add-on flashguns. To get successful results with a minimum of fuss there are some things to watch out for, whether you choose to buy one or make one.

 

image

 

01. Backs Against The Wall.

When there is little option but for the subject to stand or sit near the backdrop you are using a snoot is particularly useful. If you don’t want the whole background to be as well lit as the person using a snoot is the best option. Male portraiture is best suited to this theatrical lighting effect.

 

image

 

02. Base Exposure.

When lighting just a small part of the frame it is wise to use manual exposure mode with off-camera flash. A good starting point would be: ISO200 set to 1/125 sec. at f/6.3. To see that the shot looks dark enough take a test shot of the backdrop without the flash.

 

image

 

03. That’s a Wrap!

As your snoot you can use a Large Rogue FlashBender which wraps around the flashgun with an elastic strap and velcro. To hold the flash in the right position you would need someone or something to do this and you also need a trigger for the off-camera flash.

 

image

 

04. Pull The Trigger.

You do get more dramatic results if the flash is used off-camera to create the side-lit effect but you can also use a snoot with the flash mounted on the hot-shoe. Using a two-part radio trigger is the best solution. As well as the mid-priced option from Hähnel, top pro options include the Pocket Wizard range, but you can also find low-cost options available on eBay.

 

image

 

05. Power Control.

By altering the power output of the flashgun the exposure for the subject can be simply controlled. Use the flash in manual mode and start off with a setting of 1/8 or 1/16 power. Take a test shot and if the subject is too bright, reduce the power – if they’re too dark, increase it!

Options include: the Rogue FlashBender; Interfit Strobie; paper or card; a Pringles tube; or the Honeycomb grid.

Words by Elijah (Content Marketer) via Digital Camera World.

Photography’s Commitment To The Environment

When we think of sustainability our attention is obviously drawn to areas such as fossil fuels like oil and gas and, especially, these days, that is to what the media’s attention relates to also. However, with that being said, what people do on a daily basis and the...

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Aboard a tethered balloon, from an altitude of nearly 500 meters, when Gaspard-Félix “Nadar” Tournachon photographed Paris from above was the moment when we can trace the roots of aerial photography right back to 1858. Before airplanes entered the picture, photos were...

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Use your unit’s strobe function to achieve rapid-fire flash and capture incredible staccato action.   Pulsing Flash A pulsing flash that fires lots of times during a long exposure can create a stop-motion effect by freezing the action multiple times as the...

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    Vintage but not backwards. Whatever is in style right now, it seems, can make us feel like we’re in another decade. Vintage fashion, retro cars, and record players are all making a comeback.  Making the decision to jump in on the action, and by doing so...

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With streaks going in the right direction, this article examines how to capture streaky headlight shots.   By combining flash with a long exposure you can achieve some great shots. You can get ghostly movement blur and trails of light from moving light sources if...

Tips For Using a Snoot in Photography.

Learn how to use a “snoot” in your photography to control the light and create theatrical lighting with your hot-shoe flash.   Even though it can often be like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut a flashgun is always a handy tool to have in your camera bag....

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There has always been a sibling-like relationship between film and photography.   “The Horse in Motion” (1878) was a famous photographic series using an early movie projector called the zoopraxiscope invented by Eadweard Muybridge, a 19th-century photographer who...

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Blacklight photography can be great for shooting portraits so we are “shedding some light on the dark art” to reveal the secret of mastering ultraviolet photography!   You would most commonly see blacklight, or UV lighting, in nightclubs. White objects radiate...

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Photographer’s Picture of Bald Eagle Gets Overwhelming Response

The worldwide response to a photograph of a bald eagle has overwhelmed a Canadian amateur photographer who took the picture.   Initially posted on Facebook photography groups, Steve Biro snapped the image of Bruce the bald eagle at the Canadian Raptor...

Off-Camera Flash Photography To Help You Perfect The Strobist Effect.

One of the easiest ways to achieve amazing portraits is to utilize off-camera flash. You’ll be amazed at how you can transform your photos by simply taking your flash off-camera if your only experience of using flash is the disappointing result you got with it fitted...

Ex-Oasis Photographer warns UK Risks Losing Classic Rock Archives.

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Samsung reveals a phone with screens on both sides which could change photography forever.

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UV Photography: tips for blacklight.

Blacklight photography can be great for shooting portraits so we are “shedding some light on the dark art” to reveal the secret of mastering ultraviolet photography!

 

You would most commonly see blacklight, or UV lighting, in nightclubs. White objects radiate with a bluey glow because of the ultraviolet lighting.

Some subjects take on a completely different look when shot under these specialist lamps because of the peculiar visible effect that this form of invisible lighting has on different materials, which makes for surreal effects that are ideal for photography.

To give the strongest effect it needs to be used in a dark room with a black background and it’s best suited to studio subject because the light source is quite weak even though UV lighting can be used to photograph most things.

UV lighting can be combined for psychedelic effects to react strongly with make-up, clothes, or props which can be particularly suited to portrait photography. You can obtain UV lights from party suppliers or specialist lighting suppliers and they aren’t particularly expensive if you want to invest in some; or perhaps see if you could borrow or hire them.

Choose Your Lights.

 

image

 

Strip lights work the best but for use in normal desk or ceiling lamps you can get a bayonet or screw fit UV bulb for around $5 each. However, ideally you’d need two 20W mains units with a tube costing around $25 each for a balanced effect.

Strap The Lights To Stands.

 

image

 

For ease of positioning you can use gaffer tape to attach the lights to studio flash stands as the strip lights are designed for wall lighting. You can place one on each side of your model (preferably blonde for that effect!). Ona standard backdrop support stand you could use a theatrical black backdrop placed behind to emphasise your model and/or props.

Get Set To Go Slow.

 

image

 

The aperture needs to be set open to f/4 or wider and the ISO will need to be increased to at least 800 because in a blacked out room the lighting is going to be weak. 1/2 to 1 second long with be the typical length of your exposure. Be mindful to hold as still as possible during the exposure as you position your model on a stool in frame.

Check For Sharpness.

 

image

 

You can expect to have to delete at least 75 per cent of the pictures you take as subject movement is common with such long exposures. To make sure you have some that are sharp make sure you take lots of frames. When reviewing on the LCD zoom in to check!

Use A Reflector.

 

image

 

It’s worth while using a white or silver reflector to bounce back some light in order to ensure that the features are lit adequately as the strip lights need to be placed close to the model’s face to be effective. It is recommended to use a silver surface on a Lastolite TriGrip to achieve the desired effect.

A Rainbow of Colour.

 

image

 

Readily available in a huge range of colours at fancy dress shops is UV makeup and face paint. This is useful but to avoid areas burning out in the photograph you need to be quite subtle with the application due to the bright glow that this produced under the lights.

Experiment With Materials.

 

image

 

To see which works the best it’s worth trying different items from your wardrobe or store since it isn’t easy to predict exactly which materials will react best under the UV light. The tonic water in the glass in the shot above is a good example of a totally unexpected success but light-coloured manmade fibres and flouroplastics work well too.

So, that’s our guide to creating light sensations with UV light experiments. Shed some light on your dark art!

Words by Elijah (Content Marketer) via Digital Camera World.

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