The Equipment and Settings
- Nikon D5300
- Tamron 90mm f/2.5 Adapt-all (manual focus) 1:2 (0.5x) Macro Lens
- ~1/3 sec @ f/8 & ISO 100, or ~1/50 sec. @ f/2.5 & ISO 100
- Manual Exposure, Manual WB, RAW
- Window Light
- FotoPro C5C Carbon Fiber Tripod
How We Shot It
Today, we simply have a brief demonstration of DOF (Depth of field, or for the purpose of our discussion today, the level of background blur).
Each of these sets of images was taken wide open at f/2.5 for one image, and then stopped down to f/8 or f/11 for the other image.
To me, I find that I like both versions of each image, and I feel noticeably limited if I don’t have a tripod giving me the option for such slow shutter speeds like this. I definitely prefer the stopped-down images in both cases, however, I’m sure there will be folks who are more wowed by the shallower images. Of course, I would deliver all of these images to the client! I’m simply demonstrating the different options and “looks.”
It also has to do with how large you’re viewing the image, believe it or not. If you’re looking at a tiny thumbnail, as you can imagine, more shallow DOF often looks better. However, if you’re looking at an image more full-screen, let alone printed, the specific aperture you use to control DOF becomes very important!
There are a number of different ways to achieve these looks, with or without a tripod. If you want to shoot hand-held (without a tripod), then you’ll need either some extremely bright natural light, or a relatively powerful flash and some very good light bouncing skills. It can be difficult and time-consuming to replicate soft window light such as this, but certainly not impossible and maybe even downright easy for an experienced shooter.
So, why do I still reach for my tripod? Because for me it is still quicker to set up and get a perfectly sharp image. If I’m hand-holding a shot like this, at such close distances, focus will be all over the place. Sometimes autofocus can work, but sometimes manual focus is a better choice. And hand-holding manual focus at such close distances, you’re basically forced to use “spray and pray” and then review images one by one on your camera to compare 100% crops.
If I have my tripod, I spend ~30 sec. to set it up, I use live view and magnify my point of focus, and I pin-point perfect focus on the very first try. (Especially if I remember to put my camera in 2-sec. timer or exposure delay mode first!)
What is YOUR technique? Do you always shoot one way, and go for the same “look” each time? Or do you prefer to achieve a little variety? How do you achieve your final results? We’d love to hear, so feel free to comment below!
(By the way, there is also certainly such a thing as TOO MUCH stopping down. Just in case you’re wondering, here’s what f/16 would have looked like… The depth of field is, well, too much in my opinion.)
Post-processing, thanks to such a controlled, methodical shooting condition, was effortless. There’s no reason not to nail your exposure and white balance, and even your lighting if possible, when you have enough time to set up the shot right.
So for this image, all I had to do in Lightroom was hit it with three clicks from the SLR Lounge Preset System.
The Original, Un-Edited NEF Image in Lightroom
The Final, Edited Image
SLR Lounge Presets Used:
- BASE – VIVID / Light Crush (color)
- ADJUST – SATURATION / Saturate – Heavy
- ADJUST – VIGNETTING / Light Radial Vignette
Take care, and happy clicking,
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