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BrianShaw
09-10-2009, 11:26 AM
As pointed out before, cliche is easy to fall into. My only addition to the discussion is to be wary of the "extremes" of SF or razor-thin DOF. Both are ways to enter "cliche" quickly.

paul_c5x4
09-10-2009, 11:44 AM
A good thing about LF photography is the ease in creating this effect due to the long focus lenses involved. Funny how the shallow DOF is being re-discovered these days, almost forgotten in the clamour to buy zoom lenses.

Fujinon 300mm-C on a 5x4 wide open at f8.5

http://zathras.tuxcnc.org/images/5x4/Carly_01.jpg

My first attempt at LF portraiture and not quite what I had in mind... Still, I'd be interested in what others think (good or bad).

David A. Goldfarb
09-10-2009, 11:49 AM
My first attempt at LF portraiture and not quite what I had in mind... Still, I'd be interested in what others think (good or bad).

There's one where I think a lot of the visual interest has to do with the costume, so I'd probably shoot it with more DOF.

You've also got some hotspots around the edges of the frame that are leading the eye away from the face, so I'd burn them down to keep the interest focused.

jeffreyg
09-10-2009, 04:27 PM
What is the end purpose of a particular portrait? I would fit the technique to what you want to express rather than fit the subject to the technique. I would also think you would be attempting to capture the personality of the subject. If it is an environmental portrait it would be an entirely different composition and feeling than a close cropped face or face and bust.

Q.G.
09-10-2009, 04:57 PM
i agree completely!
i never stop down except if i have to :)


How can you agree, and use a rule like that?

Q.G.
09-10-2009, 05:04 PM
Focus, and depth of field, are two of the (creative) tools available.

As soon as you start using them in a particular way as a matter of course, it may be called style (if you are the first, and haven't done it often enough yet for people to get bored with it), or it is cliché.
That goes for any 'trick' that is played for its own sake.

jnanian
09-10-2009, 05:22 PM
How can you agree, and use a rule like that?

everyone seems to be hell-bent on rules
about everything ... rules are good to a point ( for learning )
but in the end they are detrimental to the whole creative process.

i don't have any rules ... that is the only rule i have ...

unless i am hired to shoot something
a certain way then i do as the client wishes
and if that means shooting everything at f22
and shooting everything like that, that is what i will do.

Q.G.
09-10-2009, 06:58 PM
everyone seems to be hell-bent on rules
about everything ...

You do know that it was your rule ("Never stop down except [etc.]") i was asking about?
:D

jnanian
09-10-2009, 07:13 PM
You do know that it was your rule ("Never stop down except [etc.]") i was asking about?
:D

i think you misread AND misquoted me ;)


i never stop down except if i have to :)


i didn't say *never* stop down, i said *I* never stop down ..

Galah
09-10-2009, 08:38 PM
. A good thing about LF photography is the ease in creating this effect due to the long focus lenses involved. Funny how the shallow DOF is being re-discovered these days, almost forgotten in the clamour to buy zoom lenses. I have had a couple of digital shooters that have never seen through a fast prime, and are amazed when they do.
Tony

I have a book printed in the 1940s where the authors bemoan the huge DOF of the "miniature" format (meaning the 35mm).

One wonders what they would have made of the DOF of the digicam? :)

Tom Nutter
09-10-2009, 08:54 PM
I think the "rules" of photography, or even of good and "bad" compositions in Art generally never were intended as exactly "Rules," but more like guidelines. Some things just happen to work better most of the time, and become pseudo rules over time. So we get back to cliché--If you follow rules for the sake of following them, then you are falling into cliché...I just consciously realized this I think. Same thing with Depth of field or any technique.

Emerson said that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Nobody wants to be small-minded

Just because you do something, doesn't mean it has to be the final product...going against the grain on purpose or emulating the work of others may often look stupid, and end up getting dumb results....but this process is the means to an end, the end which is hopefully a breakthrough in one's art.

I recently shot a portrait of a young lady where her face was in shadow...maybe a no-no, but it was beautiful never the less.

WOOHoo..

Leighgion
09-10-2009, 09:49 PM
Avoiding cliché has become its own cliché, worse really than any of the things it set out to avoid.

The way I see it, who cares if some people think your technique is cliché or not? Portraiture is ultimately about making a person look good, or at least interesting. You do what it takes to make that happen in each case. Whether your techniques have been used countless times before or in some way are new is, in my view, totally unimportant to the actual photograph.

Q.G.
09-11-2009, 02:15 AM
i think you misread AND misquoted me ;)
You'll find i did neither. ;)


i didn't say *never* stop down, i said *I* never stop down ..

Yes. That was well understood.
*You* never stop down...

The question still is why, when you say that you agree completely that "The composition should dictate what equipment and technique will be used. Not vice versa."
You apparently already know what technique you will use ("never stop down"), before even knowing what the subject or composition will be.

So how can you agree and use a rule like that?

keithwms
09-11-2009, 08:24 AM
Whether your techniques have been used countless times before or in some way are new is, in my view, totally unimportant to the actual photograph.

I don't think that's the point that I (and others) were trying to make. I am not advocating the use of different techniques just for their own sake.

Incidentally, there was a thread around a year ago with a subject something like 'what is originality worth' in which similar issues were raised. I don't think anybody there (or here) was saying be different just to be different.

jnanian
09-11-2009, 08:51 AM
qc

i am agreeing completely that in theory it is a good rule.
does that mean i have to follow rules all the time ?


if you read what i actually wrote, instead of focusing on the first sentence ...



i never stop down except if i have to :)
the best thing to do is play with whatever you have
and see how shallow focus, front focus, back focus
putting things infront of your lens ( obstruct it),
shooting through dirty filters or windows, or pantyhose
or "whatever" works in various situations.


was it that hard to understand what i wrote that you have to ask me over and over again ?

i am advocating learning to master one's equipment and whatever else
one can use to soften a portrait or still life or landscape or ....

as i also said or suggested, different things need to be done in different situations

archer
09-18-2009, 06:46 AM
I once accepted a portrait commission to photograph the elderly Patriarch of a very prominent Italian family. Only after arriving in Rome and being driven to a large and very old and grand country home, was I told that the Patriarch was in the chapel IN HIS CASKET! The family wanted a portrait of the old man in his casket with flowers and candles all around. It was very dark with only two floor lamps placed on either side of the casket. The exposure was 20sec at f16 on Tri X rated at 1200asa. After ten exposures, I heard soft murmering behind me and turned to see the old mans widow, kneeling, deep in prayer. Then I had an inspiration and left the chapel, leaving my equipment set up and found the old man's son and asked if I could use the large mirror behind the table in the foyer. He removed it from the wall and carried it into the chapel where I had him set it up at the head of the casket. In the ground glass was now the reflection of the old man and ten feet away, the widow, rosary in hand, dressed in black, with only her face softely lit by the candles and the lamps but out of focus. I refocused to expand DOF and stopped down to f32 and exposed for 45 sec and rated the five exposures @ 3200asa. The negs were perfect after Diafine split 4min in A and 6min in B 1:1> I printed 1 20X24 and 50 8x10 on Galerie 3 in Anco 130. All but one of the reflection negs had too much subject (the widow) movement but one was perfect with just enough softness of focus in the widow to emphasize seperation and lonliness. After 15 years, I still get print orders from the family and one of the prints is in the family archive held by the Vatican. I guess the point of the story is that soft focus need not be intentional to be effective... serendipity. Another point, make sure that the sitter is alive when you accept the commission. I was pretty spooked for months after but the very large commission helped me get over it.
Denise Libby

jeffreyg
09-18-2009, 08:05 AM
Shallow depth of field and soft focus could be two distinctly different features. You could have shallow depth of field with a subject in sharp focus and the background or foreground out of focus and control the effect by f/stop and /or focal length of the lens. You could also focus sharply and diffuse either while exposing or printing. I have occasionally focused sharply and diffused while printing by holding two pieces of glass that had baby oil between them and squished around until the desired amount of diffusion was reached. It is effective and controllable and you still have a sharp negative especially if it is a subject that you can't retake. Just hold it under the enlarger lens after you have focused the negative and remember how it was turned, place the paper to be printed in the easel, reposition the "filter" and hit the print button on your enlarger timer. It is easier if you have a foot controller.

Bosaiya
09-18-2009, 12:13 PM
Shallow depth of field and soft focus could be two distinctly different features. You could have shallow depth of field with a subject in sharp focus and the background or foreground out of focus and control the effect by f/stop and /or focal length of the lens. You could also focus sharply and diffuse either while exposing or printing. I have occasionally focused sharply and diffused while printing by holding two pieces of glass that had baby oil between them and squished around until the desired amount of diffusion was reached. It is effective and controllable and you still have a sharp negative especially if it is a subject that you can't retake. Just hold it under the enlarger lens after you have focused the negative and remember how it was turned, place the paper to be printed in the easel, reposition the "filter" and hit the print button on your enlarger timer. It is easier if you have a foot controller.

Almost all of my photos are diffused at the printing stage. Of course the effect of diffusion at printing as opposed to taking is different. Make sure it fits the subject.

jnanian
09-18-2009, 12:46 PM
the thick crinkly cellophane that wraps around a box of tea
works great as a diffuser at the printing stage.
a pass or two as the image is being exposed works wonders!

jimgalli
11-16-2009, 03:26 PM
I think worrying about what is and isn't cliche is a waste of time. If it feels good....do it.

If I have a wiry old cowboy in front of the lens, my first thought would be how beautiful the facial display of time will look with a sharp lens. If I have a lovely young lady in the glass I usually think about soft dreamy focus, shallow depth. I could care less if any of those are cliche.

I will say though, that the natural depth of field in shorter and shorter lenses as image sensor area got smaller for the last 80 years has taken a toll. 11mm lenses on 12 MP cameras make me want to puke. I'm also sick to death of the 1980's too sharp Hasselblad look that is just plain worn out.

So I started my rant by saying cliche's are dumb and ended it pointing out a cliche I personally am very tired of.