Too shallow DOF for portrait?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by reznap, Mar 3, 2010.

  1. reznap

    reznap No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Picture is my daughter.

    The eyes are in focus, well mostly anyway, and I figured that was enough. Really surprised with how hard it is to get perfect focus using the 50mm at 1.8... auto or manual.

    When I brush her hair and dress her up and put her against a nice background should I shoot such a low DOF that her hair is out of focus? I can't tell if I like it or if it's distracting. Wanted opinions, thanks.

    ----I know I cut off her hair to the right and centered her in the frame and she looks mad... but it was the best-focused of the bunch.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. rufus5150

    rufus5150 TPF Noob!

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    I shoot portraits, close-up, with super-narrow DOF all of the time... it's fine. You really have to nail the shot though and when you do, it takes on quite this ethereal nature to it that can be extremely pleasing.

    Serious looking kids can make for some of the best portraits. Don't worry too much about the hair, but take the opportunity to crop it such that it's equally cut off on the other side -- this makes her hair create a natural frame which can be an extremely effective technique to frame the face.
     
  3. reznap

    reznap No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I just tried that thinking: "Yeah, whatever... like it's gonna make a difference"

    That's a great tip though..

    Really cool, thanks very much. Also made the 'Dora' PJs a little less obvious, lol. I might have to put this one in a frame now.
     
  4. rufus5150

    rufus5150 TPF Noob!

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    Here's an edit -- some midtone contrast added, made the eyes pop a bit, pulled a teensy bit of the red out, and put it into a 4x5 crop using her hair as a natural frame:

    [​IMG]
     
  5. JimmyO

    JimmyO TPF Noob!

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    Doesnt really matter to me aslong as the eyes are in focus
     
  6. reznap

    reznap No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Even better than what I had just done. I like it a lot, thanks!
     
  7. mbcreate

    mbcreate TPF Noob!

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    You got a gorgeous kid. She's really beautiful...
    But did you take the shot at her eye level?
    Sometimes your position make a big difference
    But I love the pic after crop work... good job rufus5150 ;)
     
  8. pbelarge

    pbelarge TPF Noob!

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    Mad or not, she is very cute.

    In the crop shot, the flash in her eyes becomes more prevalent. Can that be removed without affecting the photo?
     
  9. bazooka

    bazooka No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The eyes still seem soft to me. At f/1.8, it's going to be a challenge to get both eyes in focus at the same time.
     
  10. rufus5150

    rufus5150 TPF Noob!

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    I'm not sure I've ever seen this question before... most people ask how to get catchlights IN to eyes :)
     
  11. reznap

    reznap No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks for the comments everyone. :)

    Actually, (her) right eye was a little less in focus, so I did some selective sharpening. I did some more experimenting today and it's definitely easier for me to use manual focus and make sure I'm square with both her eyes. If only I could get her to smile and sit still...

    I was on eye level with her, she had her head tilted a bit.

    And didn't use a flash. The reflection is daylight from a bay window.

    -paul
     
  12. BKMOOD

    BKMOOD TPF Noob!

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    I shoot portraits all the time and I can’t imagine ever shooting anyone at 1.8 unless I’m after a particular effect – and I’m never after that particular effect.

    Did you want a razor thin depth of field? If so, you achieved it. If you didn’t want a razor thin depth of field, you need a different F-stop.
     

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