Mas­ter DOF for por­traits

cre­ate en­gag­ing por­traits by vary­ing depth of field on lo­ca­tion and in the stu­dio

Digital Photograper - - Techniques -

SHAL­LOW DOF IS MAR­RIED TO THE POR­TRAIT GENRE, WITH DIFFUSING BACK­GROUNDS IN SHOTS OF PEO­PLE, US­ING WIDE APERTURES, REP­RE­SENT­ING ONE OF THE FIRST TECH­NIQUES WE LEARN AS NEW PHO­TOG­RA­PHERS. THE CRIT­I­CAL COM­PO­NENTS OF A POR­TRAIT PHOTO ARE THE EYES, SO ANY TECH­NIQUE THAT LIM­ITS AT­TEN­TION TO THAT AREA OF THE FRAME IS OF BEN­E­FIT. AL­TER­ING THE REL­A­TIVE AN­GLE OF THE CAM­ERA TO THE SUB­JECT CAN GREATLY CHANGE THE AP­PEAR­ANCE OF THE FI­NAL FRAME, AS WILL THE WORK­ING DIS­TANCE BE­TWEEN THE LENS AND THE SUB­JECT. ONE CRE­ATIVE OP­TION IS TO EM­BRACE THE EMO­TIONAL POWER OF THE EYES AND ISO­LATE THESE US­ING A TIGHTER CROP AND ‘SU­PER’ SHAL­LOW DOF. MAKE USE OF A FAST PRIME, WITH A MAX­I­MUM APER­TURE OF AT LEAST F1.8, OR EVEN EM­PLOY A MACRO LENS, TO USE THE VERY CLOSE FO­CUS­ING CA­PA­BIL­I­TIES FOR SHARP­NESS THAT FALLS OFF AF­TER ONLY A FEW MIL­LIME­TRES. WHEN COM­BINED WITH STRONGLY DI­REC­TIONAL LIGHT­ING, THIS CAN BE USED TO PRO­DUCE A VERY CIN­E­MATIC LOOK. FUR­THER TO THIS, EX­PER­I­MENT WITH AN­GLING THE CAM­ERA TO EM­PHA­SISE THE FALL-OFF IN SHARP­NESS, MOV­ING DOWN THE SUB­JECT’S BODY – STAND­ING IN AN EL­E­VATED PO­SI­TION AND AIM­ING THE CAM­ERA DOWN­WARDS, WHILE YOUR SUB­JECT LOOKS UP TO­WARDS THE LENS, PRO­DUCES A FAR MORE DY­NAMIC PER­SPEC­TIVE THAN WHEN PHO­TOGRAPH­ING HOR­I­ZON­TALLY FROM EYE-LEVEL. AL­TER­NA­TIVELY USE DEEP DOF TO MAKE A BIG­GER FEA­TURE OF YOUR SUR­ROUND­INGS. WHEN OUT ON LO­CA­TION, FIND A UNI­FORM BACK­GROUND, SUCH AS AN AR­RAY OF TREES OR AN EX­PAN­SIVE FIELD, AND SET YOUR APER­TURE TO AROUND F11, US­ING A FO­CAL LENGTH OF BE­TWEEN 20MM AND 35MM. THIS WILL REN­DER MORE OF THE MID­DLE-GROUND SHARP, WHILE LEAV­ING THE FAR BACK­GROUND DIS­CERNIBLE, YET UN­OB­TRU­SIVE. WHEN LIGHT­ING YOUR SHOTS, CON­SIDER HOW DOF WILL IM­PACT ON THE AP­PEAR­ANCE OF HIGH­LIGHTS AND SHADOWS. IN SHAL­LOW-FO­CUS IM­AGES, AVOID BRIGHT HIGH­LIGHTS BE­COM­ING DIS­TRACT­ING AR­EAS OF BLEACHED COLOUR, AND BE AWARE THAT EDGE VIGNETTING CAN BE MORE PROM­I­NENT ON LOW-DE­TAIL AR­EAS.

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