Weekly theme 9th September - Shallow depth of field

(Helen Hooker) #1

Hello everyone - I hope your week is starting well. Let’s crack on and set the new theme so we can all get out shooting…

This week’s theme is Shallow depth of field

Depth of field (DOF) can be a hugely powerful tool in our photographic armoury. Whether our pictures have a lot or very little sharply in focus can really aid our storytelling, guiding the viewer as to which parts are important.

There are occasions where a deep depth of field (with lots of the image in focus - usually shot at a larger f number) is what is needed. However, using a shallow DOF can be very powerful, creating a creamy, soft background - often known as bokeh. Here are three examples I’ve found in my own catalogue and some suggestions as to how you can get the best bokeh from the lenses you own.

One of the easiest ways to create a shallow DOF is to use a prime lens, such as a 50mm f1.8 - often affectionately called the nifty fifty. For many years such lenses were sold as the kit lens with most camera bodies because they are sharp and modestly priced. I use the equivalent lens on my camera a lot of the time and I find it very helpful for isolating the subject from the background (and sometimes the foreground). This picture was taken with my 42.5mm lens at a car show over the summer and I wanted to ensure the cute dog was clearly the subject of my picture. I did this by using an aperture of f1.8, which blurs the cars in the foreground and background.

Creating a shallow depth of field can sometimes be harder if your kit lens has a smaller maximum aperture - perhaps f3.5 of f4. However, there are some ways you can still create that background blur. One way is to zoom in to the long end of your lens and getting closer to your subject. I did just this with this bluetit, who was remarkably happy to let me near. My aperture was only f6.3 but using a longer focal length allowed me to blur the background.

Another good strategy is to get down low to shoot, as it will often move the background farther behind your subject. I did exactly this at Goodwood earlier this year, sitting on the grass so I was at the same level as the field of Minis as they came racing towards me. Doing so meant the crowds in the distance became the background to my photo, rather than the piece of tarmac just behind the cars. This gives a really immersive feel too, and makes you feel part of the action.

So there you have a few ideas of how to use and achieve a shallow depth of field. Now it’s your turn to go out and see how you can use this powerful tool - let’s see what we can all come up with!

How to participate:

  • Please submit your photo by midnight GMT on Sunday 15th September
  • To submit a photo, hit the Reply button below and upload your image(s). Please limit each post to one image.
  • Please try to also share your picture on your page over the main Photoblog platform and encourage others to visit the theme thread to participate and vote.
  • To vote, click the :heart: heart icon.
  • If you post your picture early in the week, don’t forget to pop back to see what others have shared and to cast your votes!

Winner of the last theme

Last week’s urban landscape theme brought in an interesting variety of scenes, but @peterphotowalks entry drew the most votes. Peter has been among the winners for the last four weeks - a great achievement. Congratulations Peter!

(Berckmans Peter) #2

Thanks for the votes guys

(Berckmans Peter) #3

One from last weekend. Just some gear on an armoured truck

(Kenny H) #4

(Piotr Matura) #5

(Lakshmi Bhat) #6

(Bethany Plonski) #7

Halloween pennant dragonfly (celithemis eponina)

(Russell Smith) #8

(Helen Hooker) #9

I had a cunning plan to shoot my photo for last week’s theme at this weekend’s Goodwood Racing Revival. I hadn’t banked on how sheer exhaustion would prevent me from getting it processed and posted here so, as usual, I’ve missed the deadline I set! Here it is anyway. Most people attend the Revival in period costume so this stylish lady was just asking to be photographed and I used on of the racing cars as blurred foreground interest.