I have a problem...

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Abby Rose, Aug 24, 2010.

  1. Abby Rose

    Abby Rose TPF Noob!

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    Hey everyone, long time no mingle. It's been a long summer. :D

    I approach you all with a problem. You know how you see some lovely pictures and get all inspired? Well, I do. So you try and figure out what that person did and apply it to your own work? Yes. I've learned tons that way.

    So, I'm in love with this girls photos. Flickr: *Zara's Photostream One thing that particularly interests me is how the person is in focus and then the background is all OOF, bokeh, if you will accept that term. A common thing in portraits for sure, except her pictures really make me notice it. So I had to try it myself, of course. My sister wants me to take some keeper pictures of her anyway :)lol: she thinks I'm quite a bit better than I am) so I thought I'd learn this and apply it to pictures that I take of her.

    Except I can't. I can get the OOF background with macros no problem. Large aperture, bingo. But as I tried it with things further away, the background (the far, far away background, definitely not the closer background) was just slightly blurred, no bokeh circle thingys or anything interesting. It may be that my camera (sony cyber-shot dsc h50: point and shoot, baby!) isn't capable of that sort of thing, but I figured if it is, you guys will know what I'm doing wrong and how to fix it. :confused:
     
  2. PhotoSteve

    PhotoSteve TPF Noob!

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    Hi Abby,

    There are a few things going on here that you might want to consider. First of all, as a photography educator, I've dealt with countless of my own students who have encountered the same frustration you're facing in terms of trying to get short depth of field (or "bokeh" as the Flickr gang likes to call it).

    Basically - and you may not want to hear this, but here goes - it is difficult to get decent short depth of field in portraiture when using a point & shoot. You mention that you tried this with a large aperture so that means you're familiar with the relationship between low f-stop values and the resultant short depth of field.

    The problem, though, is that most point and shoots have very small lenses. So even though you may be shooting with an f-stop of, say, 2.4, the diameter of the lens is so tiny that your camera's f 2.4 is nowhere near as wide or large as the 2.4 on an SLR. Basically, the larger the opening/aperture, the shorter the depth of field. So in this sense, you're kind of snookered unless you eventually pony-up to a DSLR.

    Here's something else to consider, though. All lenses (even point & shoot) will observe these depth of field rules and you can use this to your advantage. Try this:

    (1) the closer you are to your subject, the shorter the depth of field. This means that you should get very close to your subject, do a head-shot only and make sure the focus is dead-on in the eyes. This will help to blur the background.

    (2) Use manual exposure setting or aperture priority and set the lowest f-stop you can. Even if it's bright outside, balance that wide-open lens with a high shutter speed and/or low ISO value. These things will allow you to use the wide aperture even in bright sunlight.

    (3) Try to use your zoom lens a bit on your relatively close subject. Zooming-in on a face (or anything) that's relatively close will also help to blur the background.

    Doing these things will definitely help! Good luck!

    Steve
     
  3. Abby Rose

    Abby Rose TPF Noob!

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    Ah, I was afraid of that... it is a good point and shoot, but a point and shoot all the same. I have been trying not to be interested in a canon digital rebel xt, but its calling me. However, I am poor and I havent even had this sony a full year. So lets not get ahead of ourselves...

    thanks for the awesome advice! All more in-depth tips on what I've been trying, so I'll be out again trying more tomorrow.

    What about manual focus on these point and shoots? I've recently been playing around with it, but I either suck or the auto focus is waaaay better...
     
  4. Mustlovedragons

    Mustlovedragons TPF Noob!

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    Aside from getting close to your subject, which really is important if you want an oof background, may I also suggest that you have your subject (sister or anyone/anything) get several feet in front of the background as well. It's hard to get oof background if your person is standing with his/her back touching a tree, for example. If said person steps forward several feet, you have the color brown with minimal detail (ok, that's be a wide tree but you know what I mean...same for wall, foliage, muslin backdrop, whatever).
     
  5. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    The size of the camera's image sensor has a big impact on being able to get shallow depth-of-field. The small image sensors in P&S cameras don't help.

    The number and shape of the lens aperture blades have a lot to do with the shape and asthetic visual quality of an OOF background. Bokeh is the asthetic visual quality of a blurred background, not the blur itself.

    One of the big advantages of a dSLR camera is being able to change to a lens that has features that promote the visually asthetic quality of a blurred background the photographer wants.


    There are 2 kinds of bokeh:
    1. Creamy cream cheese bokeh (very smooth)
    2. Hollywood bokeh (circles of light)
     
  6. Abby Rose

    Abby Rose TPF Noob!

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    "creamy cream cheese bokeh"? Do you have an example? Because I cant seem to picture it. Or should I google image or flickr search the term?

    I am wondering if I have improved enough to even consider hunting for an affordable dSLR. Self control, self control, what if I don't stick with photography? You know how us young'uns can be, jumping around from one hobby to the next. My point and shoot has failed me in very little that I've tried, but this is the most disappointing shortcoming. Sighh.

    Oh well. Thank you all for the help.
     
  7. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    If you have a look at the EXIF on those shots (go to actions above the photos and then down to view exif) she is using a Rebel XT and a 50mm f1.8 lens at 1.8 for many of her portrait shots. So you are certainly thinking along the right lines for what you're after :)

    As said though the problem is somewhat based on your camera at the present and I suspect that only by using it as a telephoto (ei zoomed out) and with a wide aperture along with a very big separation between subject and background (ie a long distance between the subject and the background) will you get close to what you are after.

    You might also try to selective edit the photos to additionally blur the background and sharpen the subject - but that can take a long time to get to look well and not edited in.
     
  8. davisphotos

    davisphotos No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Bokeh is mostly an equipment issue, and slightly a knowledge issue. But yes, it is hard to get good bokeh with a P&S-even my fantastic G10 doesn't do well in that department. My 5D Mark II and 70-200 f2.8 at 200mm on the other hand, pretty amazing. As is the 85mm f1.8. I think the best bokeh you could get for your money would be the Digital rebel and either the 50mm f1.8, or if you have a few hundred dollars extra, the 85mm f1.8 is amazing.
     
  9. Raian-san

    Raian-san TPF Noob!

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    Yeah you definitely need a SLR camera with f1.8 or 1.4 lens to get great bokeh images. My next lens is the 50mm 1.8 lens because I want to take portraits photo like the girl you shown. Hopefully you will save up for a DSLR, took me awhile to get one too. Good luck.

    P.S. Her photos are amazing, those are the kind photography I'm aiming for.
     
  10. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Look for a Flickr group based on the Nikon 85 mm f/1.4. It's knick named as the "Cream Machine", and produces some of the smoothest cream cheese bokeh that can be gotten in a photograph.
     
  11. Abby Rose

    Abby Rose TPF Noob!

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    Even cooler is that they are self portraits. :) They make me jealous of her skills.

    :lol: I'm a college student.

    Thanks everyone, again, for the excellent advice.
     

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