Storytelling using the magic of depth of field

Using depth of field to tell a story

Many photographers have a favorite aperture. Mine is f/2.8. Why? Because it allows me to tell a story…

Image: Brit Hammer. Shot at f/2.8 using Sony RX-100 mkIII

Image: Brit Hammer. Shot at f/2.8 using Sony RX-100 mkIII

 

Do your eyes go first to the plants in the foreground, then to the person standing in the blurry background? Do you wonder what that figure is looking at?

Using a shallow depth of field (DOF) is one way you can tell a story.

How, you ask? A shallow DOF allows you to have a primary subject in the foreground and a secondary subject in the background. By alluding to a secondary subject, shown blurry in the background, you engage the viewer and get them wondering about what the story might be.

In these examples the figures are looking away from the camera, but what if they were doing something, such as walking toward the camera or perhaps holding something?

This week, experiment with having a secondary subject blurry in the background. Play with the idea and see what stories you can tell!

If you shoot cityscapes, try putting a primary subject in focus in the foreground with the cityscape acting as the secondary subject in your background. In the below example, the LCD of my camera is my primary subject, and the NYC skyline forms the background.

 

Image: Brit Hammer. Shot at f/2.8 (-2.3 EV) with Sony RX-100 mkIII

 

Telling a story can be done in a single image…or in a combination of images. It’s up to you!

Images: Brit Hammer

 

The above post is excerpted from Photography Essentials taught by Brit Hammer.

 


Instructor: Brit Hammer

Are your shots inconsistent? Or have you gotten bored with your photography? Join Brit’s Photography Essentials class (or any of her three other courses here at BPSOP, for that matter!) Brit explains everything simply and clearly.

Even if you’ve been photographing for a while, Photography Essentials will help you get great shots consistently.

All of Brit’s classes are easy and fun. So if your friends or family enjoy photography, have them sign up with you!

 

 

SIGN UP NOW FOR BRIT’S CLASSES

Photography Essentials

Amazing Travel Photos Made Easy

Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images Part 1

Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images Part 2

No post processing skills necessary for any of Brit’s courses.

 


What students say about Brit’s teaching:

“I’ve taken many classes. With the way Brit taught and explained things, I finally said, ‘I get it’. She made me enjoy taking photographs.”

“[Brit’s course] made me feel more self-confident about my own personal style and has helped me go beyond my limits.”

“My camera is no longer a mystery. I can work quickly and produce images that express the vitality and spirit of my work. ”


Creating a sense of place: Case Study #9

This post is one in a series on how to create a sense of place.


 

CASE STUDY: SEASIDE ADVENTURE

Next time you’re taking photos on holiday or during a celebration, include detail shots to flesh out your story. Details shots, when added together with photos of people, help show the mood of your scene.

Have a look at the images in this case study:

  • Rocky coastline
  • Beach buggy
  • Sandy road
  • Man standing by seaside

post_9_sq

Do you see how each image tells part of the story and shows only one idea? This is how you help create a sense of place.

Each images is a single idea. When you combine several, a story is created.

TIPS TO GREAT DETAIL SHOTS:

  1. Vary the camera angle in each shot. Shoot up, down, out, across, or through a subject.
  2. Frame your subject tightly to omit clutter. Reveal part of the subject.


 

SIGN UP NOW FOR BRIT’S CLASSES 

Amazing Travel Photos Made Easy

Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images Part 1

Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images Part 2

Photography Essentials

No post processing skills necessary for any of Brit’s courses.

 

Amazing Travel Photos Made EasyAmazing Travel Photos Made Easy teaches you how to create a collection of images that not only documents your holiday but that conveys how it felt to be there.

This course focuses on the creative side of photography and emphasizes getting all your shots in-camera.

You’ll learn how to get amazing travel photos using any kind of camera!

** NO TRAVEL NECESSARY **

 

Get your camera to finally do what you want!

Do you want to take better pictures but don’t know where to start? Or have you been photographing for a while, but the results are hit and miss?

Everything is explained simply and clearly. This easy to follow course is designed to grow your confidence and skill.

Even if you’ve been photographing for a while, Photography Essentials will help you get great shots consistently.

 

Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images Part 1Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images Part 1 gets you started photographing how you want your life to look and what you want more of in your life.

Ever wonder if the craziness of your life is, indeed, worth celebrating? The answer is a resounding YES!

Start taking images that that look like they came out of a glossy magazine.

This course focuses on the creative side of photography. You’ll learn how to capture images of your everyday life in a fresh and exciting way.

Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images Part 2Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images Part 2 takes you further by focusing on capturing the essence of your loved ones — think about the little things that you’ll always remember, such as how they hold their favorite coffee mug in their hands!

Do you wish you had images of your loved ones that capture who they are as a person? What about a series of images that portray your life as nicely as a wedding photographer portrays a wedding?

Get ready to have fun creating lifestyle photos that you can’t wait to share with your friends and family.

This course delves into creative ways to capture even mundane moments and beautifully photograph even camera-shy loved ones. They’ll finally stop saying they don’t like seeing themselves in photos!

Get a taste of how Brit will work with you.

You can also work with Brit privately

Mentoring: Schedule a live session with Brit via Skype

Get a private image video review: Private Video Image Reviews

Find out about all of Brit’s courses, including Photographing Fine Art & Craft

Not So Fast Summer!!

Before we say goodbye to summer… Just how elaborate is the set-up to create a shot of ‘refreshing lemonade’? Surprisingly, it’s not elaborate at all!

You will need:

1) Natural light

2) A drinking glass filled with sparkling/mineral water

3) A lemon slice

4) A clothes pin to hold the lemon slice

5) Some green wrapping paper that will create the illusion of grass plus it adds contrast to the yellow lemon

6) A macro lens, or ext. tubes 😎 a tripod.

Once the composition is set and you have focused on the lemon, (with the green wrapping paper about 8-12” in your background) stop the lens down to F/22 (F/32 is even better, if you have it). Using the lowest ISO number, 100 or 64 or 50, (L.03, .07, 1.0), you will find a correct exposure being indicated in the range of 1/15 or even 1/8 sec. Perfect! So now you are ready to shoot but just before you fire the shutter release (using a cable release!) drop a half tsp. salt into your mineral water and watch a fresh round of bubbles rise up from the bottom of the glass; SHOOT! And SHOOT again!!!

You Keep Shooting,

-BPSOP Founder – Bryan F Peterson

Bryan Teaches:

Understanding Exposure & Your DSLR

Understanding Color, Seeing Color & Composing Color

Understanding Close-Up Photography

Mastering Nikon Flash Photography

The Art of Seeing

Understanding Composition

Macro Photography


When I speak about macro/close-up photography, almost without fail, everyone thinks I’m referring to nature subjects, i.e. flowers and insects. But in fact I am suggesting one shoot anything but flowers and insects!

When we turn our attention to the really small ‘forgotten’ details that really are everywhere, the world of photographic subject matter quickly becomes a thousand times greater!

Several weeks ago I was in Ashland, Wisconsin where my eyes caught sight of the image you see here, ‘chapped lips’. Note the four additional images, attached to this post in the comments section below to fully appreciate the “forgotten” things in life.


Shot by one of my students Linda Wrobel, these four images simply illustrate that when we take a closer look, effective and colorful compositions are ours for the taking. You keep shooting! Nikon D500, Micro-Nikkor 105mm, F18@1/200 sec. 400 ISO.

You Keep Shooting,

-BPSOP Founder – Bryan F Peterson

Bryan Teaches:

Understanding Exposure & Your DSLR

Understanding Color, Seeing Color & Composing Color

Understanding Close-Up Photography

Mastering Nikon Flash Photography

The Art of Seeing

Understanding Composition

 

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