I’m not sure there is another occupation or area of interest where the advice “get shallow” will ever be given. In photography, however, focus plays a large roll in describing mood and isolating the main subject. Using a shallow depth of field can add depth to your photograph and aid in establishing a focal point. Typically used in portraiture, opening your lens up increases the blur in the out of focus areas. Artistically, this can also be used for very creative shots that might otherwise be, well…boring.
Below is an image of some clothes pins I had sitting around. Now, the repetition in form can be an interesting element in a photograph. However, narrowing the depth of field in this image really enhanced it and gave it a little something extra.
How can I achieve this effect? Read On!
There are two ways to achieve blur in your photographs.
- Open your lens as wide as it will go. Another reason to buy a prime lens. The aperture on many primes, like a 35mm or 50mm, go to at least to 1.8. For extra creamy blur, splurge a little more and go for a good portrait or macro lens. The blur quality (bokeh) is usually nicer on the more high end lenses, but there are exceptions..do the research!
- Distance from subject. If your lens will let you get close enough, even at f4 you can achieve a nice blurred background. The image below was taken at f4 with a zoom lens mounted on my Nikon. I was able to get close enough to create a decent quality blur.
Notice the Yellow flower in sharp focus, while the rest of the cast gradually blurs out. This can be such a powerful tool for expression.
Thanks for stopping by and please let me know what I can share with you to help you with your artistic journey. I will add a couple more photos that utilize a very shallow depth of field to show and extreme example of this technique.
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