It's all about the story (echo, echo, echo . . . ) That cute furry face is great, but to see personality, I need to see what's actually going on. With this project we've seen several ways in which a photographer can use the camera settings and lenses to show the viewer exactly what she wants them to see. This week it's all about a wider aperture and we are using it to create what is called, depth of field.
Depth of field is the amount of the image in front of and in back of the subject that is in focus (large depth of field) or not in focus (shallow depth of field). If your subject has a lot of background in the frame, this is yet another way to declutter things. A shallower depth of field provides a softer background so that the subject is in the spotlight, so to speak.
Depth of field is one my favorite things to play with. Besides being able to clean up an image, I can also be more creative with my storytelling. Here are some examples.
This is a picture of my sister-in-law's dog, Katie Belle. I wanted to show how she patiently waited while everyone served themselves at Thanksgiving. (Oh, how I wish she could mentor Hermes on doggie etiquette.) You can see what's going on in the image just fine, but using a shallow depth of field, I'm able to keep Katie in sharp focus while softening the background and telling the story from her point of view.
I LOVE to adjust for a shallow depth of field when I photograph pets with their owners. There is just something about being drawn in by a wonderful furry mug with the owner there, but not there. It's as if the dog is saying, "Here I am! And, by the way, this is my friend!"
A shallow depth of field is also a wonderful tool when the owner isn't crazy about being in the pictures. (This image of Rocky was a gift for Becky's sister, Rocky's owner, so Becky didn't want to be too obvious in the photo.)
One more example - I like to get creative when I'm trying to show something about Hermes' personality. For example - his obsession with treats (ok, food . . . any food . . . ANY . . . you get the idea.) Spotlighting the treats lets the viewer know THIS is what he's focused on. (Intense... unwavering... steadfast... focus.)
If you want to try this out with a point and shoot camera there are some settings that will control depth of field for you. In the portrait setting mode (a symbol of a person's head) you will get a shallow depth of field. If you go to landscape mode (a mountain symbol), you will have a deeper depth of field.
There are several pet photographers in the Project 52 circle, so if you'd like to see how they worked with this week's lesson you can start with Rachel at Hoof N Paw Fine Art & Photography, Spokane, WA. At the end of each blog post you'll find a link to the next photographer's post so that you can make your way around the circle ending up right back here.
Have a great weekend!