Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lessons from Roamin'-Depth of Field

Roamin', sitting on my tripod at Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota

It was great fun having my little gnome along on our trip. We got some attention now and then, as you can well imagine. In fact, at Mt. Rushmore there was a comment which made me stand up a little straighter: "Look! It's the Travelocity guy! What a great idea!"

Roamin' is a great exercise in Depth of Field, as well. Depth of Field is how much of your photograph is in focus from the front to the back of your scene, or subject. With a point-and-shoot camera you don't have as many options. You have a focusing area, but you can't adjust the depth of field by changing the f-stop. (F-stop is the size of the opening of the shutter, determining how much light is let in. A small number, like f4 or f5.6, is a relatively large opening, while a high number, such as f16 or f20, is a small opening. I know...who set this system up, anyway? )
If you can play with your settings at all, you can decide how much of the photo you want in focus, and how much you want out of focus by determining how much light you let in the photo. When someone looks at your photograph, what do you want them to see? That's the decision you make when you consider Depth of Field.

Consider this first photograph of Roamin' standing in front of a beautiful lake in Coeur d-Alene, Idaho. Standing back and using a smaller aperature (f 20), I was able to get the foreground and background almost in focus. But...what's the focal point of this top photo? What do I want you to see?
For the next photo I moved in closer, and specifically focused on Roamin'. The background is more out-of-focus, but you can still tell it's a lodging of some type. The f-stop is about f16 or f8. I obviously want you to see Roamin' enjoying his vacation.

For this last photo, the f-stop is more like f5.6 or f8, and I haven't moved. Now I don't care to share that fuzzy're to see Roamin' and that's all.

And Mt. Rushmore? Here are my choices. Look at that first photo again and see that I stood back a bit, and probably had an f-stop of f20 or more. The photo below focuses on Roamin', but I've lost the story about being at this fabulous monument a bit.

So when you look through your view-finder, determine what you want to be your focus point by deciding what you really want someone to "see." It's all part of storytelling, isn't it? Photographers tell stories with their pictures, as others use their words.

And most of all...have fun! Maybe everyone needs a "Roamin'"!


Char said...

always great points

Wildflower Studio (Michelle Dransart) said...

I love that last one!
Yes, its all about story telling, so much fun! That's why I love it too!
Have a great Monday!

joyce said...

Perfect timing...I've been reading about aperature & how it works, haven't played with my settings yet. But to get it right....the higher the number the more of the picture is in focus...right?

Roamin...that's his name! We had a blurb on our provincial news cast about a gnome called Simon, who disappears from his garden once in a while & comes back with travel pics...the "owner" has no idea who it is that's taking him....makes it all kind of magical!

Sandy K. said...

Hi Joyce - Yes, the higher the number to more you can get into focus in your photograph. Both of us typically leave our setting on Aperature priority, as we are usually focused on that depth of field. Now, with moving water, I like to use Shutter priority so I can "slow" the water, or catch it flashing by. I really need to practice the Manual setting the most. It's all practice. We keep a notepad to this day, recording anything we're trying so we can match the notes to the image later. Have fun studying this fabulous art form.

Slices of Beauty... said...

How cool is that Sandy!

Thank you for your lovely thoughts on September and kindness.

Chris said...

LOL I think I need me one of those...I'm always just snapping away and forgetting what's in front of me sometimes, no matter how far in the distance it may be. I'd like to become more adept at using my camera's manual settings, and I have a depth-of-field preview button on my camera that I should be using.

Where did you get Roamin' from?

julie king said...

fun, fun, fun!!!!