Lbsimon wrote in post #18560709
Could you elaborate on this a little, please? I sometimes do get this type of “nervous” bokeh with this lens under the same conditions and the same background, and I still do not know how to fix the problem.
Could I elaborate? . Why yes, of course! . That is what I love to do - to elaborate. . I am a hopeless elaborator!
There are several things that you can do to get much better bokeh in these situations.
- . Once your subject appears, immediately start thinking about the different backgrounds that are available to you. . Look all around the scene and ask yourself, "what is it that I would most like to have behind my subject?" . One of our jobs as photographers is to maneuver ourselves into the position that will place the most complementary background behind our subjects.
If the background behind your subject is one that you suspect will not look that great in the photo, then of course the first thing you should be doing is to seek a new position to shoot from so that you will have a nicer background behind your subject.
- . If you absolutely can't reposition yourself to get a pleasing background, and the background that you are forced to use is not pleasing, and you want to blur it out as much as possible, then you'll need to get as close to your subject as possible in order maximize the difference between the camera-to-subject distance and the subject-to-background distance.
In other words, if I am stuck with a bad background, then in order to blur it out, the most effective thing I can do is to get my camera close to the subject. . Ideally, if my subject is 50 feet in front of the background vegetation, then I want to be 10 or 15 feet from my subject. . You want that ratio to be no worse than 1:3, and ideally you want it to be more like 1:5 . Get your camera as close to your subject as possible, and get the background as far from your subject as possible.
In these "bad background" situations, you want to get right up in their face! . That is how you blur the bad background out.
- . Also, you want to shoot as tight as possible (meaning use the longest focal length possible). . The tighter you frame around your subject, the more blurry the background will be. . If there is a lot of "unnecessary space" around your subject, then that is only going to make the bad background even worse, because shorter focal lengths have a deeper depth of field, which will be fighting against you in your attempt to blur out the background vegetation. . Aperture is only one way to control depth of field ..... focal length is another way, and is often more effective.
- . If you cannot position yourself so as to align your subject with a nice background, and for whatever reason you still want to take a picture of the animal, even though the background isn't good, then be sure to shoot with the lens set to the largest aperture. . I mean, if a background is all choppy, then of course you want to shoot at f5.6 if you're using the 100-400mm zoom. . f5.6 is already pretty small, and will usually give you more than enough depth of field to get all of the important parts of your subject in focus. . If you go smaller than f5.6 with a bad background, you are only making things worse for yourself.
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Below is a photo of a Mule Deer with a potentially choppy background that I shot with the 100-400 v2. . I did everything that I could, as a photographer, to mitigate the choppy forest vegetation.
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I looked for a background that would be as even and distraction-free as possible. .
The buck was in a rather round-shaped clearing, which was surrounded by deciduous forest. .
I did not particularly care for the choppy nature of all the small diameter tree trunks, but I was forced to use it because that's what entirely surrounded the clearing that the buck was in. .
So, accepting that this forest would be my background, I then looked for an area of that forest edge that was pretty much just tree trunks, and devoid of Russian Olive trees and small understory plants such as wild rose. This meant that I had to move a couple of hundred yards, so as to get out on the south side of the deer and shoot north, toward the nicer part of the forest edge. - .
Once I was on the south side of the buck, I then had to swing further around to my left, so that the forest edge would be further behind the deer than it was from the place where I was first positioned. .
This was to put my background as far as possible behind the deer. .
The only reason I didn't move even further to my left was because then some Russian Olive would have been behind the buck (you can see parts of the Russian Olive on the far right edge of the frame). .
Imagine how horrible this picture would look if that Russian Olive would have been directly behind the buck? .
That would have sucked big time!- .
I kept inching closer to the buck so that I could reduce the camera-to-subject distance. .
This, in turn, increases the ratio between the camera-to-subject distance and the subject-to-background distance.- .
I shot at the largest aperture that was available to me - a.k.a. "wide open", which was f5 at this focal length. .
This might seem like a "no brainer" for this type of situation, yet it is surprising how many photographers stop down a bit when there is no advantage to doing so. .
The 100-400mm v2 is great for this type of shooting because it is extremely sharp wide open. .
If I had been using the 100-400 v1, I would have had to stop down about 2/3 of a stop just to get the sharpness I want, which in turn would have compromised my ability to render the background effectively. - .
I shot as tightly as I could for a landscape orientation, which at this distance was 182mm. .
If I shot any tighter, I would have framed the deer too tightly and the composition would have been awkward looking. .
If I had shot any wider, then the background would be choppier and not as well blurred. .
Shooting a bit wide, and then cropping in post is a HORRIBLE idea, if you want to blur the background as much as possible.
I wish that I would have had a few more seconds with this buck before he turned away. .
I would have loved to have zoomed in even tighter and shot vertical orientation portraits. .
This would have completely blurred out the background and isolated the buck and his antlers even more. .
That was indeed my plan, but he started moving again before I could do that, and that was the end of this opportunity. .
In hindsight, I wish that I had done this first, instead of shooting the landscape orientation first like I did. .
Lesson learned for next time.
But man, things happen so fast and there are so many things bouncing around in my brain when I finally get a subject to shoot - no matter how well I do with an opportunity there will still be something that I mess up; something that could have been done a little better ..... or a lot better .
"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".