Working DOF

Discussion in 'C & C Gallery' started by jcdeboever, Sep 11, 2020.

  1. jcdeboever

    jcdeboever TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    @Derrel inspired me the other day in another thread. The (Obligatory) Brick Wall Shot - Share Yours I was alarmed at what the depth of field could add to a portrait. Well of course I had to explore this on my lens. My goal was to sculp the subject with a speedlight to create separation. Open for critique.

    2020_0911_18164800-01.jpeg


     
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  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Dogs can be tough, especially larger working breeds like this one; oftentimes the nose is distractingly out of focus, but in this instance it is only mildly out of focus and when seen on an iPhone it looks okay, and the eyes are plenty sharp, and the background is well out of focus and is free of distracting elements.

    Even though you may have the background of focus, it is possible for a lighted object or an object of bright color or of unusual shape or unusual reflective nature to be distracting, but in this case it looks to be a couch and a throw pillow. In this instance the background is hinted at,but not shown too-sharply. This is a good example of selective focus. It appears to me that the use of the speedlight has illuminated the dog's eyes quite a bit, in a good way.
     
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  3. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Alarmed as in good or bad? Personally I want the tip of the nose to the front edge of the ears in focus, with the iris being the exact focus point. As Derrel pointed, out some dogs and some people have some pretty big noses. In that case I would adjust my DOF to keep the nose in focus a let the ears go OOF.

    Dog fur is easy to overexposed and lose detail as in camera right on the nose, eye and even the tongue.
     
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  4. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    @jcdeboever coincidentally this popped up on my feed to anther site. This reiterated what I said earlier about keeping your DOF equal to the distance from the tip of the nose to the ears. In particular pay attention to the clam shell lighting. I'd never really thought about it but it makes perfect sense given the structure of a dogs face. Using the large soft modifier overhead quarantees equal light in the eyes. Plus the softness prevents some of the specular highlights from forming on the fur. 7 tips for taking your pet photography to the next level | Profoto (US)
     
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  5. paigew

    paigew Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Cute shot! Are you trying to experiment with shallow DOF? Out of curiosity, have you ever tried shooting totally wide open?

    I like this shot. I do most the photos for our local dog rescue and the slightly oof nose doesn't bother me I one bit, her slight smile and expression are perfect. What a gorgeous lab.

    Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk
     
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  6. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Your DOF is very thin. Personally, I would prefer to see the entire head in better focus. As in; from the nose to the ears. Even the back edge of the ears. Such a shallow DOF as this shot is distracting, IMO.
     
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  7. paigew

    paigew Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Looking at this on the computer now...have you done any sharpening? It does seem a bit soft, what were your settings?

    I sharpened it, added some dehaze, clarity, noise reduction. reduced shadows a bit.... dog edit.jpg
     
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  8. photoflyer

    photoflyer TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    It is funny because I was thinking this and then saw Derrel's comment.

    It is not you fault. Forgive me, but it is the nature of the beast.

    I do not have a solution but maybe someone else will. If you stop the lens down you have less bokeh and less background separation but more of the face is in focus. Of course you may also struggle with a slow shutter speed which can be problematic if the subject can't sit still.

    If the animal will sit still then a little focus bracketing might help. Move the focus point forward on the face in successive shots and then use the one that is the best compromise between focus behind the eyes and in front. To me, eyes forward focus would likely be best.

    This image looks very good to me because a casual observer will be drawn to the eyes. It is only when you ask a group like us to critique it that you will get this kind of feedback.
     
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  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    One trick is to make a selection of an out-of-focus area and then use some sharpening (not unsharp mask but sharpening), and then fade that by about 40% and then reapply sharpening and fade that by 40%. This is a technique that I used to use quite a bit for newspaper production photos which are typically seen about 4x6 in size on 80 line screen newsprint.

    I think this might be what Paige W is talking about when she asked if you had applied any sharpening. After you have applied the sharpening and faded it twice then you can take the entire image and apply unsharp masking.
     
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  10. Space Face

    Space Face Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    This is what I was thinking too. If you are going to go with such a shallow dof you really need to ensure the sharp bits are indeed really sharp. I think the edit is an improvement.

    Generally I don't mind in this type of shot if the nose (in this case) is out of focus but as above, the eyes need to be spot on.
     
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  11. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    This has drawn a lot of suggestions many of which deal with correcting the image as shot but the title says DOF and the text deals with "what DOF can add to a portrait", as such IMO it's more about "what to do before the shutter clicks then after.

    The OP references @Derrel 's shot (an excellent example of DOF control in a portrait). Drawing from that image according to the EXIF it was shot with an 85mm at f2.8 (with +2/3 EC), 1/400, ISO 500. It appears the focus point was 8' 10.29", giving him a hair over 3" in front of the focus point and 31/4" behind the focus point, for a total DOF of just over 6.29". The settings used here provided ample opportunity to achieve not only sharpness in the eyes and face but sufficient OOF for separation, all "without trying to fix it post".

    Now let's compare the OP's image. FUJI 63mm at f3.6, 1/20, ISO 1000. The EXIF didn't record focus distance or DOF numbers but given the way it's filling the frame let's say 5' away. At that distance using the other settings I'd surmise a total DOF of 3" half the amount that Derrel had. Drop the distance to 4' and your down to only 2". Either is way to thin for the subject to capture the nose and eyes in focus, and probably marginal for the eyes because of how deep they're set in the sockets.

    Having followed the OP for some time, I know he's highly qualified and produces images which are far above the level of this image. I also know that he's much more pragmatic then I in his approach, and prefers SOOC to post editing. So to respond directly to his OP "My goal was to sculp the subject with a speedlight to create separation". I have to say, I belive you failed on your goal, both with DOF and use of the speedlight.

    Rather then "fixing" this image, in the future I'd pay careful attention to my DOF requirements, and work accordingly. On lighting dogs the link I posted above offers some good suggestions.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2020
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  12. paigew

    paigew Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Photos are not meant to be shared SOOC, especially if you shoot RAW. It is expected that the contrast, shadows, sharpening, etc will be applied. This image does not need "fixing" it needs editing, or in other words, it needs to be completed :) You wouldn't share a film negative without developing it first, would you?
     
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