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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 02 Apr 2017 (Sunday) 19:47
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DOF and obliterated backgrounds

 
iowajim
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Apr 02, 2017 19:47 |  #1

Is there a way to know when we'd have a grossly out of focus background for a given condition? For instance, if I have a DOF of 2 feet, will the background be obliterated at 4 feet behind the subject? 6 feet?

By obliterated, I'm referring to a background that is obscured to eliminate distracting elements in a portrait situation. I realize that this is subjective.

I'm guessing above that there might be a rule of thumb regarding this.


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sapearl
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Apr 02, 2017 19:59 |  #2

There are tables that will give you a distance guideline, but as you say much of it can be subjective.

In some of my own portrait work I've created really shallow depth of fields which have tremendously isolated the background, and then I regretted it. The background was so OOF that much environmental context was lost. I slightly greater DOF would have given more visual information of the environment without really pulling your eye away sufficiently. Yes, much can be subjective depending upon the end result you want.


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PhotosGuy
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Apr 02, 2017 20:19 |  #3

You should run your own tests as there are a lot of variables, but this will help: DOFMaster Depth of Field Calculator (external link) with apps for iphone, ipod, palm, android, windoze...


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Bassat
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Apr 02, 2017 21:24 |  #4

I use this on my phone: https://play.google.co​m …=com.aimenrg.do​fpro&hl=en (external link)

Simple to use. Works in any units you want. Stores 3 different cameras. Makes using a manual focus UWA a breeze.


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sapearl
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Apr 02, 2017 21:49 as a reply to  @ Bassat's post |  #5

Jim, important considerations are: how close do you plan to be your subject and what focal length will you be using? Both of those factors will cause a tremendous amount of variation in what you are trying to do.


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Apr 02, 2017 23:31 |  #6

There is a graphing program that allows you to specify FL and shooting aperture, then the curve shows how blurry at various distances behind the main plane of focus.

http://asklens.com …f2-on-a-0.9m-wide-subject (external link)


with the preloaded examples (which you can modify) the graph shows 135mm f/2 has more blur than other lens+aperture, but only beyond 3m behind the subject plane.


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EverydayGetaway
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Apr 03, 2017 21:24 |  #7

sapearl wrote in post #18317913 (external link)
There are tables that will give you a distance guideline, but as you say much of it can be subjective.

In some of my own portrait work I've created really shallow depth of fields which have tremendously isolated the background, and then I regretted it. The background was so OOF that much environmental context was lost. I slightly greater DOF would have given more visual information of the environment without really pulling your eye away sufficiently. Yes, much can be subjective depending upon the end result you want.

This. I bought into the obsession over shallow DOF and bokeh for a little while... much happier with my images now that I'm over it.


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nathancarter
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Apr 04, 2017 10:10 |  #8

Experience.

Distance from camera to subject, distance from subject to background.

I use approximately the same gear and camera settings for most portraits, so if I want to change the background blur, I move myself and my subject.


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sapearl
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Apr 04, 2017 10:53 |  #9

nathancarter wrote in post #18319198 (external link)
Experience.

Distance from camera to subject, distance from subject to background.

I use approximately the same gear and camera settings for most portraits, so if I want to change the background blur, I move myself and my subject.

Words to live by ;-)a


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ManiZ
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Apr 04, 2017 14:54 |  #10

Why not take a test shot and examine it on the LCD? Change the aperture and make relative compensations for light until you're happy.


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sapearl
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Apr 04, 2017 15:24 |  #11

Here's an example of what I meant by aesthetics and context.

Not too long ago I did a shoot for our local NPR station right before Diane Rehm retired. Here's a typical stage portrait from that event, shot with my trusty 24 - 105 at f/4 and 105mm, with the focus point on Diane's hands. The moderator in back is clearly OOF, but sharp enough to show his reaction to what she had said. I used no Post to blur him and I only sharpened Diane slightly.

In this particular case at that distance, f/4 worked perfectly for my needs. Of course the lens only is an f/4 so I didn't have a whole lot of choice. But it still worked very well for how I envisioned the final product.


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Apr 04, 2017 15:45 |  #12

EverydayGetaway wrote in post #18318822 (external link)
This. I bought into the obsession over shallow DOF and bokeh for a little while... much happier with my images now that I'm over it.

Precisely.

I'm glad I never bought into this.

'........let's see if I can whittle this DOF down to about 10 thousanths.....it'll be great....' :rolleyes:


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Apr 04, 2017 17:16 |  #13

EverydayGetaway wrote in post #18318822 (external link)
This. I bought into the obsession over shallow DOF and bokeh for a little while... much happier with my images now that I'm over it.

Congratulations on your successful recovery.




  
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iowajim
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Apr 04, 2017 20:01 |  #14

Thanks for all the input! In my situation, I'm contemplating a large aperture lens for the occasional portrait shoot, and I wanted to know what was going to give me the desired effect before I dropped the cash. The link that Wilt shared showed me that there is no simple rule of thumb for this, and that for the standard focal lengths, the desired effect will be difficult to achieve, particularly on a crop in a home studio.

If I'm outside, I'll pull out the 70-200 and set the background for the appropriate level of blur.

So at least I know what I'm up against, and what to expect.


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Apr 04, 2017 22:01 |  #15

iowajim wrote in post #18319683 (external link)
Thanks for all the input! In my situation, I'm contemplating a large aperture lens for the occasional portrait shoot, and I wanted to know what was going to give me the desired effect before I dropped the cash. The link that Wilt shared showed me that there is no simple rule of thumb for this, and that for the standard focal lengths, the desired effect will be difficult to achieve, particularly on a crop in a home studio.

If I'm outside, I'll pull out the 70-200 and set the background for the appropriate level of blur.

So at least I know what I'm up against, and what to expect.

Looks like the 85mm f/1.2 would be the best selection for head and shoulders portraiture with most background blur, regardless of (reasonable) background distance

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..even out at 10km, the 135mm f/2 is the second runner-up

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DOF and obliterated backgrounds
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