family pics for my sister...

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by kitkatdubs, Nov 14, 2015.

  1. kitkatdubs

    kitkatdubs TPF Noob!

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    tomorrow I'm going to be taking family pictures for my sisters to get more practice. all she has said to me is she wants the background blurred out and her and the kids in focus. however, today i snapped a quick photo to practice with my daughter to see how i can get the background super blurred, and it isn't as blurred out as i hoped. what am i doing wrong? this photo was shot at an f/3.5 and my daughter is standing really far from the trees. Also, there will be 5 people in the photo tomorrow so wondering what f/stop i should be shooting at to make sure everyone is in focus AND the background is really blurred out? I'm shooting at around 4ish so i can get the golden sunlight. TIA!!


     

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  2. AlanKlein

    AlanKlein No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Shoot with a medium telephoto, equivalent to let's say 85mm to 110mm in full format. If you have a crop sensor let's say 1.6x the lens would be about 50-80mm. Open up the aperture also reduce DOF. Keep the subjects further from the background will blur the background more. Good luck.
     
  3. dennybeall

    dennybeall No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Almost a wide angle lens at 24mm and 3.5f made it very hard to get the effect you wanted. Try the techniques Alan suggested if you have lenses that will get you there. Even if you have to go to a real telephoto and back up across the yard.........
     
  4. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Use the longest focal length you can, the largest aperture you can, and have lots of separation between subject(s) and background. Ensure however you do the sums beforehand so that you know what your DoF is. F4 at 50mm will provide vastly more DoF than will f4 at 200mm. Have a set of tables, printed on on your smartphone and check them before the shoot.
     
  5. soufiej

    soufiej No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    IMO you always have a series of trade offs when shooting portrait style photos of groups of individuals. The first and probably most crucial is the acceptable amount of depth of field (or DOF).

    Think of DOF as a single, thin vertical plane of perfectly in focus images with everything in front of and behind that single, thin plane being increasingly out of focus. In other words, the way DOF works is to provide only enough room for the tip of one subject's nose to be perfectly "in focus". Everything else in the image will be increasingly out of focus. Fortunately, the cognitive abilities of our mind will make up for a good deal of what we see as being good enough when it comes to sharpness.

    Your primary trade off though is having sufficient amounts of acceptable degrees of focus to capture the entire group with good detail while also providing the desired amounts of (rapidly) decreasing focus elsewhere.



    Depending on the focal length of your available lens and your ability to create distance between the lens and your subjects you will, in most cases, have a group of people bunched not in a straight line but huddled together in a small set of layers. This layering of subjects presents your first trade off and your first decision regarding DOF.

    Those layers of subjects present the problem of achieving adequate degrees of in focus images for all subjects when the camera/lens is creating increasingly out of focus points with each layer.

    Typically, the advice given for that trade off is to close down the aperture (increase the f-stop value) which (while not changing the concept of a single, thin in focus plane) will broaden the acceptable amount in focus/out of focus range to include all members of the group/layers.

    Though doing so will also provide greater amounts of relatively in focus background meaning decreasing amounts of background blur. So closing down the aperture will provide more acceptable focus within the group while also providing greater amounts of relatively in focus backgrounds. Not what you are after.

    I'll address one way to cheat on this inevitable rule of physics in a minute.



    One thing to remember is the senor size of your camera will typically mean you have a "relative" focal length and thus a "relative" aperture also. The practical, real world result of this will be the amount of background blur you can achieve with different cameras using different sensors sizes will not remain constant with the stated f-stop value. In other words, using an aperture value of, say, f 3.5 with a DSLR equipped with an APS-C sensor will provide noticeably more background blur than using the same aperture value with a small sensor compact camera. Unfortunately, the DSLR with the larger sensor will also provide a smaller acceptable degree of in focus images when you are shooting portraits of a group arranged in layers. Make sense?

    Therefore, when you are searching for a DOF calculator, make sure you find one with the sensor size in the equation; A Flexible Depth of Field Calculator



    Fortunately, acceptable amounts of background blur can be achieved with even the smallest sensor size and the "slower" lenses of a modestly priced compact; Favorite Canon SX50 HS Photographs - Tony Britton

    However, slower lenses (resulting from smaller sensors) will also mean longer shutter speeds. A tripod wouldn't be out of place in your situation IMO. Also, using your camera's built in timer would be helpful when looking for the sharpest overall result since, even with the camera locked down on the tripod, your shutter technique can result in camera shake.



    Distance between the subject and the background is the key to achieving good background blur when you don't have exotic, high priced gear with full frame sensors and the fastest lens. As mentioned, a longer focal length lens will give you more acceptable results though once again you find a trade off of how much space you can place between you and the group vs how many layers of people you will need to fit that focal length.

    You were wise to experiment before you get the final shots. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you really can't accomplish your preferred results with the camera/lens/distances themself, then consider the fact you have a digital camera to work with.

    Shoot in RAW capture (if your camera allows it) and you must do some amount of processing of the photo before it can be displayed or printed. That means you must use some sort of software for your processing.

    Many of the more sophisticated digital editing software options allow for some amount of blurring of the background through digital manipulation.

    Learn Photoshop CC - Blur a photo's background on Adobe TV


    You may need to find that tool on your present software package or find another editor which allows for that function. It's certainly not as desirable as getting the shot in camera but with a bit of work at your computer station and the right software, even a modestly priced camera/lens or substandard shooting conditions can result in an image with the look of far more expensive and sophisticated equipment.

    Understanding Depth of Field in Photography
     
  6. TCampbell

    TCampbell Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    To blur out that background, you've already received some excellent advice in that

    1) Use longer focal length lenses (e.g. 50mm would be a MINIMUM you should consider... the longer the better. I love using my 70-200mm f/2.8 at the 200mm end but that may be a bit much for a "group" shot.) An 85mm f/1.8 would be a great choice.

    2) Use lower focal ratios... at the 200mm focal length, f/4 will work well. But as the focal length gets shorter, the focal ratio needs to get lower. E.g. if you had a 100mm lens then you'd probably want to shoot at f/2.8 or lower. At a 50mm focal length you'd want to shoot at f/2 or lower.

    3) The subjects need to be reasonably close for your angle of view. Obviously they need to fit in the frame... but don't back away too much. The degree to which you can create background blur depends on getting a big separation in foreground subject and background.

    4) Put the background... waaaaay in the background. Never put subjects up against a wall, a fence, a shrubbery, etc. If the background is only slightly farther away then the subject, then the background won't be blurred -- at least not to the degree that you want.

    Here's a couple of candids shot a few years back:

    This is 200mm at f/2.8 but this shot would also have worked at f/4 (the blur wouldn't be quite as strong, but you'd still have a substantial amount of blur at f/4)

    [​IMG]

    Here's another at 70mm and f/2.8. This still works but ONLY because he is (a) very CLOSE and (b) the background is very FAR.

    [​IMG]

    One other thing... I noticed that in the photo of your daughter, you basically centered her "face". This resulted in a lot of empty space above her head ... and at the same time her toes are cut off. Center on her whole body but weight her so she's slightly in the lower portion of the frame -- just be sure not to cut off body parts on "full length" shots.
     
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  7. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    What he saud was abolutely right.
    You don't need all that extra background; we can infer from a little bit what is happening.
    Make her larger in the frame, don't clip her toes - that really looks like a missed framing.

    IMG_40202222222.jpg
     

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