Saturday, October 23, 2010

Phosari; Highlighting your Subject Using DOF

DOF story top

DEPTH OF FIELD; The Still Photo

DOF (Depth of Field) is not only a desired tool to professional and print journalistsFlowers om Jar DOF_1045Flowers om Jar DOFcompressed,  but to home photographers as well.  Many of today’s point and shoot consumer level camera’s feature lens’s with focal lengthsAls Hamberger (1)_1038Als Hamberger (1)compressed that offer enough of a long angle to create the DOF effect, as well as the effect of “flattening” the subject with the background.

For a landscape or location feature shot, a nice long focal length, say using the optical zoom featureReed in backlight morning DOF_1048Reed in backlight morning DOFcompressed out to 3/4 of it’s capability, will often create a nice flattening of the photo while highlighting the subject.  Combined with a medium backlighting situation, captured through a longer exposure with a larger iris (set to aperture priority, and with the use of the timer for absolute stability), DSCN7561_1041DSCN7561compressedthese photos show how an interesting image can be captured, or visualized, given a set of relatively uninteresting items in a relatively poorly lit area.  

This can be done with even the most basic point and shoot consumer camera, as long as it has a manual setting, or aperture priority setting and an onboard timer.  A remote control works as well, but I have yet to encounterDOF examples bug (6) a consumer still camera that comes with a remote or offers that option.  Be sure to zoom in and focus on the central subject of the photo by lightly pressing the exposure button, or “shutter release”, then zoom out to compose your shot considering the subjects placement (the rule of 3rds), always applying the basic principles of lighting, angle, and composition.   Most of this can be applied to many varieties of photography, all of which I use daily.

This is only the most rudimentary look at the use of DOF.  There is a world of information available, and as one of the most enjoyable aspects of photography is a practice as it is constantly evolving, allowing one to grow and learn.

DEPTH OF FIELD; Videography

Cinematographers have long known the value of Depth of Field in filmmaking.  Long a trademark of the classic “Hollywood” look, television has only DOF examples Reedrecently fully embraced creating interesting compositions this way as an alternative to the norm.  This can be seen in the cinematography of shows such as “CSI Miami”, and documentaries such as “Frontline”, and “American Experience”.

In the video below, I compose many of my scenes using a narrow DOF in order to draw the attention of the viewer to the cameras display as I change settings, make adjustments, focus and shoot.  I do this while I compose the photos for a sharp or narrow DOF, again, drawing the attention of the viewer to as well as highlighting the subject of the photo.  I use a Nikon D90, that although not a pro-sumer, much less a professional camera, has full manual controls.

I also demonstrate the basic steps I take in to create this type of image. While I go over the steps I take to create the still image, I do not really mention the steps I have taken and methods I am using to “film” or video tape this process.

While the basic steps for video are the same, given your camera, camcorder, or imaging device allows such control, there can be some differences.  One great difference is that most still cameras do not have a “Cinema” look setting (I in fact know of none), which I use almost exclusively.  Another is the white balance settings.  For example the Nikon P90 (as most upper-level still cameras) can in fact create a true “custom” while balance, while the camcorder, in this case a Canon HF10, can only select one of the stock settings based on the light reading.

Look for a full story on using DOF in videography in the near future.  I will working to capture another videographer that is using extreme DOF as well as other techniques using a DSLR in the creation of a promotional video.

You can download the video above in a variety of formats.

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