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.
Be sure to join me on instagram: Big_Wide_Lens
You know you’ve become pretty good friends with someone when they’re willing to get their portrait taken on a whim. As an artist and stay-at-home dad for the past seventeen years, it has been absolutely necessary for me to find time to occasionally get out of the house and talk to other sentient beings. (My labradoodles listen pretty well, but they don’t quite offer the same level of intellectual support as my human friends do) This usually means meeting for coffee in the morning with friends. By now, most of them are pretty comfortable having their mugs of caffeine sharing table space with my camera. It helps too that most of my friends are creatives. In exchange for modeling, my friends receive an updated portrait for their website or social media pages. Win win!
Luckily for me, there are also interesting places nearby the coffee and breakfast stops, and I get a bonus session at the seasonal produce stand or the many nearby inter urban trails!
Here are some shots from this mornings coffee time. Enjoy, and see more on my INSTAGRAM : Big_Wide_Lens
Thanks, and happy shooting!
Okay, as I was scanning recent photographs, it didn’t take me long to come up with an idea for a new photography tip blog entry. Yay! I forgot how much I like to share this kind of stuff. Really fun!
After reviewing images from an outing last Spring, I realized many of my photos were all shot with a single wide-angle prime lens. I was following my own advice and limited my focal range for a single outing. Now it’s fairly common for one to use a wide-angle lens for such things as landscape, seascape, and cityscape photography, but shooting wide can also create fantastic spacial effects and transform the mundane into magic. Objects shot at close range with a wide angle lens (see your lens’s minimum focal distance) can make objects that would otherwise seem relatively near to your main subject, appear quite distant. The perspective of your subject will also appear greatly exaggerated.
Please enjoy the following images I took with a 20mm lens on a full frame equivalent sensor camera.
Note the exaggerated distance in the first image of my two dogs (Danny and Sandy) and then the exaggerated perspective of the bench and the taco truck images.
Thanks so much for stopping by! Be my bud on instagram: Big_Wide_Lens
If there are other things you would like to see, please please let me know!
Its been over a year since I’ve posted new content here. I am an active artist and stay-at-home parent, so please forgive my lack of content recently. Visit my art page here–>Painting to see what else I do!
I have really LOVED shooting macro this past Spring and Summer. I will include a few shots in this post, and then I promise I will add more how-too’s and what-nots soon!
Thanks as always for looking and commenting!
It’s been a while since my last photography outing. I decided to get out of the house today and soak up some sun while taking a few happy snappys. It was a beautiful morning, but the sun was already rising and the light was becoming harsh. Luckily, there is a fantastic park nearby that is heavily wooded. Splashes of light here and there aided in these two shots captured with a 35mm prime lens. I enjoyed getting my bones warmed up today, but I will be looking forward to that next overcast day when I can capture all that April color.
Picture making, whether it be drawing, painting or photography, is ultimately about filling your picture plane with something interesting and intriguing. We orchestrate several elements, shape, texture, color and tonality, until we arrive at a pleasing arrangement. In photography, our subject matter, whether it be a single object or multiple ones, is often the goal. Being careful as to the placement of our subject(s), as well as lighting and focus, are key for creating balance in our image.
In my latest shot, I decided to ignore particular subject matter, and look purely at the formal qualities of my surroundings. I looked for tonal variety, interesting shapes, and movement. In essence, I approached my photo session like an abstract painter. This isn’t to say the elements I used in my photographs can not be identified. You can clearly see that I used rock and water. However, by thinking only in terms of abstraction, I was able to take the emphasis off subject, and work primarily on decorating the image plane. Thanks for stopping by. Oh yes, I now have my painting website up. Please visit my painting site for some abstract inspiration.; ) click–> my art
This image was originally tucked away in a folder, because when I was editing it, I was attempting to recreate the same levels of contrast and darkness as other photographs I was working on. At the time, I was very much looking for a certain criteria, and as a result, I didn’t see the qualities in this image. When I came back to this one weeks later, the calming, understated nature of this beach scene really appealed to me. I wonder how many other good photographs I pushed aside because they didn’t look like I thought they should at the time. Anyone else find a gem after they first dismissed it? Let me know! Thanks for stopping by. –Shawn K. Pagels
As with most things in life, changing your perspective can make all the difference. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, as the proverbial advice suggests, broadens our understanding of the world around us. In photography, changing perspective is a powerful tool we can rely on to strengthen our artistic muscles.
After years of shooting pictures and art making, I still sometimes find myself walking around expecting pictures to make their way into my lens at my convenient, eye level, legs straight, non-tripod mounted, lazy way of shooting pictures. Many times, simply pointing and shooting will suffice. Often times, you have no choice in the matter. You have to shoot when something presents itself. What I am referring to are those moments when the subject matter is fantastic, but for some reason you can not capture it’s essence. Those spectacular round river rock are white flecked, the water is hitting them midway, and you know it’s a lovely sight, but your pictures are dull and uninspiring. Or, there’s is a wonderful repetition in the way some boulders are placed in a pond, but for some reason the pictures you take are boring. My advice? Get down low.
Shooting from a lower perspective adds overlap , an important visual cue, to more elements in your photograph that you wouldn’t get otherwise. It also gives your images drama by placing more objects in the foreground, strengthening the depth of the image. It also allows for more compositional possibilities, and for me this really gets my creative juices flowing. Suddenly, I tiny leaf becomes a focal point and a major compositional anchor. A tiny piece of root directs the eye towards the focal point. A leafy twig springs up in the foreground providing a strong sense of space in your photograph.
Here are some examples of how I positioned my camera real low, sometimes a few inches, to the ground in order to capture the essence of my environment. Thanks for reading and keep in touch!
I came across this shot I took at Clark’s Point last year. I never published it or had it printed because there was always something I didn’t like about it. Today I made it a square format picture, converted it to black and white, did a little dodge and burning, and I am pleased! I am currently working on an online shop to sell some of my photographs…and I think this one wil be included. Thanks for stopping by, happy shooting! -Shawn Pagels (artSEEguy)