Archive | January 2010

Camera Tip of the Week

Shallow Depth of Field

There are actually three factors that will affect your ability to reduce your depth-of-field and blur the background in a portrait.

The first is the aperture.  The low number apertures (i.e.  f/2, f/2.8, etc.) will produce your shortest, shallowest depth-of-field’s.  In fact, the lower the number, the shallower the depth-of-field.

The second factor is the lens’ focal length.  The longer lenses will have inherently shorter depth-of-fields.

The third and final factor is the camera-to-subject distance.  Don’t expect to have a beautifully fuzzy background using a 50mm lens with your subject at 20 feet.  Instead, consider using a lens in the range of 85mm to 135mm at a distance of 8-10 feet.

You could actually use any telephoto lens and I’ve seen some shooters using 200-300mm lens on occasion, but lenses in the 85-135mm range are usually considered to be “portrait” lenses and using this combination does provide a few benefits.  First of all, instead of being right on top of your subject, the greater distance moves the photographer out of the subject’s personal space making them more relaxed.  Then the gentle compression of the short telephoto lens usually has a flattering effect on the subject’s features.  Combine that with the aforementioned shallow depth-of-field of a smaller f/number and you have a lot of the makings for a wonderful portrait!

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Camera Tip of the Week

Questions and Answers:

I can take a good picture, I just can’t take a great picture! Can you help me?

Of course!  At Katydid, we make sure you go away from our classes with the knowledge of how your camera works at it’s best.

How do I remember which f-stop to use?  What are the tricks?

Try to remember the small numbers are the larger lens openings.  They let in lots of light and create a shallow depth of field.  The larger numbers are the smallest lens openings and they let in only a little bit of light.  They also create a larger depth of field so more distance is in focus.

Camera Tip of the Week

Never set your camera to AUTO!  You have no control what so ever! If you want total automatic, try the PROGRAM mode and set your ISO according to the lighting you are shooting in.

Better yet, have more control by setting your camera to S, shutter priority (sometimes called Tv for time value).  Choose your ISO and set your shutter speed to 1/60 or above.  The camera will then choose the proper f-stop for the lighting conditions.