Bursting Balloons !

Bursting Balloons !
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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Creating separation

Much of what I post is stuff I am slowly beginning to understand myself - not because I knew it all before .
So a lot of this will sound obvious to those who already know about it but hopefully others will find it useful .... as I record what I am learning in my "photography diary".

Sometimes people get confused as to what the subject of the picture really is - when it is obvious to you .
Quite often you yourself know what you were taking a picture of but somehow it doesn't look the same in the picture .... your brain had a different concept of what you saw as opposed to what the camera produced .
And often I have looked at a good picture and wished I had that kind of scene to photograph in - not realizing that it has been created by the right settings ..... settings that I usually allow my camera to choose for me .

So the trick is to produce an image where there is no doubt as to what the subject is ...  because it's really frustrating when they have to ask what the picture is of or complain about the 'subject' being in the way of the scene when it is 'the scene' !

I just went out to get some example pictures so don't expect too much ...... let's say you wanted a picture of a fence post - you walk up to the fence "click" and there it is ..... when people see it some of them might say " nice picture of a farm scene but that fence post is in the way " .... or " the cows aren't properly in focus " and then your face changes colour a few times as you explain that the subject IS the fence post !

Now the above image was taken with my D50 and the 85mm F1.8 lens at F16 which gives maximum depth of field - for that lens ...... let's try the same picture again at F1.8 ....
Now it's more likely to be recognized as a picture of a fence post !

Selecting the correct aperture and actually using depth of field to make the background out of focus helps to show that it isn't meant to be part of the image in the first place and starts to create a separation between the subject and the background .
We can go a step further .... literally , and move closer to the subject which creates even more separation
F16 still makes some of the background look like it could possibly be part of the scene but much less likely to be so ....

F1.8 removes all doubt as to what the subject is now that we are closer to the subject and have less depth of field ....

So depth of field is one way to make it more obvious what the subject is but you can't always use it !
Why not ?
Well what if you are taking pictures at a wedding , you have the bride as the main subject and perhaps the wedding location in the background as part of the scene - not the main subject but something we want to recognize in the final image as part of the memories of the day ..... we still need to have a good depth of field but show that the bride is the main subject .

I never had time to rustle up a bride so late in the weekend and had to stay with the fence post for now . I won't claim that the final image looks great - maybe as I get time I will be able to set up something decent but for the moment all I am trying to do so show the difference between different settings in exactly the same scene .
We have out 'bridal portrait' again at F16 , there's the "reception hall" in the background . [ the sun had just gone down and things are getting dark .... and cold !]

We may be stuck with this depth of field but we can change our other settings to darken the background ....I had the camera in manual and changed the shutter speed until the meter showed "-1.7"

And then add flash to lighten the subject ! .... now the pole , I mean 'bride' is as bright as originally but the background is darker creating separation between the two while still showing both in the final image .

Of course you can always combine the two ... have a shallow depth of field and darker background with flash added to the subject but I'm not going out in the cold again to set up that shot .... maybe another time ! 
For now though I'll throw in a sample from the pictures I did the other day while trying to work out the settings used in an image on a popular book  , basically it involved darkening the background and lighting the subject to create separation while still showing both but leaving no doubt as to what the subject was .....

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