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Student Enrollment: Controlling Depth of Field


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#1 Hinckley

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 12:47 AM

While I've always been able to achieve this effect, it's always hit or miss. I'm not sure how to manually control where the focus is. Any advice? I'm using a Sony DSC-H10.

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#2 Darkdragon

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 01:27 AM

With your camera, the 1/2.5" (5.744 x 4.308 mm) sensor is going to be the biggest hurdle to getting shallow depth of field.  That's about the size of a pinky fingernail and just the physics of it means that even with a wide open aperture, you will have a deep DoF.

When trying for a shallow depth of field, you will definitely want to make sure you have your camera in manual mode. Set your aperture to F3.5 and then set up your lighting and shutter speed to get the effect you want without changing your aperture or ISO (which should always be set at 100).

The way I'd trick the camera to seemingly get a shallow DoF is to space the scene elements farther apart and use Zoom to compress the distance.  If you are not sure what I'm talking about or would like an example, let me know I will build and get you some photos here in your lesson.

One more thing, you mentioned the focus point. Make sure you set the focus mode to "Single" which will probably be smack in the center of the frame. This is where the focal point will start and the focus area will extend in front of and behind that point linearly at the same angle as the lens. This is a difficult concept to type out, but I think the butterfly image in my lesson explains it fairly well.  Once you lock focus on an object, you can move your camera up/down (Y axis) and left/right (X axis) without an issue but don't move it forward/back (Z axis) or the focus will be off.

#3 Hinckley

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 01:42 AM

I don't see a butterfly in your lesson. :look: Am I looking in the wrong spot? :wacko:

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#4 Darkdragon

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 02:15 AM

View PostHinckley, on 23 August 2012 - 01:42 AM, said:

I don't see a butterfly in your lesson. :look: Am I looking in the wrong spot? :wacko:
Sorry about that. I thought it was there.  I've added it now, but for your own reference here it is.

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#5 Big Cam

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 03:41 AM

Another way to think of Depth of filed in a very simple way is "that which is in focus".

DarkDragon has gone into more detail than I will, but essentially using a lower F stop will give you a shallower depth of field which will make it easier to get that blurred effect. Positioning your subject closer to the camera but further away from the background will also help.


On a basic camera an easy way to fake this, or rather trick the camera is to use the macro mode when shooting a regular picture. This way the camera is focusing only on that which is close to it, and the background will be blurred, giving you that shallow depth of field look. You may need to move your subject closer to the camera, but it's an easy way to get this effect.

#6 Darkdragon

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 04:43 AM

I've added some sample photos to my lesson. http://www.eurobrick...dpost&p=1079518

Hopefully that will help where my words were failing me.  I also realized a lesson on photography with no photos is rather pointless.  :wacko:

#7 Hinckley

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 05:05 AM

I get the concept and I understand the definition of the term, Nick. :hmpf:

:tongue:

I'm just having trouble figuring out how my camera does anything manually.

Lisa, am I stupid? Or is my camera actually fighting being controlled manually? I see no manual settings in the menu. Every focus is auto. :wacko: I guess I need some basic instruction from you. I'm feeling rather dense.

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#8 Darkdragon

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 05:20 AM

View PostHinckley, on 23 August 2012 - 05:05 AM, said:

I'm just having trouble figuring out how my camera does anything manually.

Lisa, am I stupid? Or is my camera actually fighting being controlled manually? I see no manual settings in the menu. Every focus is auto. :wacko: I guess I need some basic instruction from you. I'm feeling rather dense.
No, you aren't stupid. On a lot of pocket cameras, manual modes are not intuitive.  

Everything I recommended for you to do in my first reply, I actually made sure your camera could do it before I typed it for you.  It's just a matter of "how" to do it.  I should be able to find that in the manual.  In the meantime, here's what I used to find out what your camera can do: Sony DSC-H10

I'll get back to you with instructions as soon as I can.  I wish it wasn't two hours later here  :tongue:


And I'm back!

Alrighty. For future reference, here's your manual.

On the top of your camera is a big dial. You want to turn it so that the M is selected. This puts your camera in manual mode.

Quote

Manual Exposure Shooting mode*
Allows you to shoot after adjusting the exposure manually (both the shutter speed and the aperture value).  page 31

Unfortunately I can't really copy/paste much from the PDF so you'll need to look at page 31 of the manual. I think that has all the info you need though.  :thumbup:

If I still haven't understood your question, let me know. I can be rather dense sometimes myself. :wink:

#9 CopMike

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 01:54 PM

View PostHinckley, on 23 August 2012 - 05:05 AM, said:

I'm just having trouble figuring out how my camera does anything manually.

Lisa, am I stupid? Or is my camera actually fighting being controlled manually? I see no manual settings in the menu.

View Postdarkdragon, on 23 August 2012 - 05:20 AM, said:

No, you aren't stupid. On a lot of pocket cameras, manual modes are not intuitive.  

On the top of your camera is a big dial. You want to turn it so that the M is selected. This puts your camera in manual mode.
M - who could have figured that out :laugh: :tongue: ? Stupid!

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#10 Darkdragon

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 02:04 PM

View PostCopMike, on 23 August 2012 - 01:54 PM, said:

M - who could have figured that out :laugh: :tongue: ? Stupid!
Excuse me sir, but are you a student in this lesson?  :angry:

This is Hinckly's lesson, so no.  :tongue:

#11 Hinckley

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 03:06 PM

CopMike is my personal motivator. I'm motivated by being made fun of. :blush:

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#12 CopMike

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 04:31 PM

Sorry for intruding on your private session but it was to good of an opportunity to make fun of Hinky-Dinky :laugh:! Love you man :wub:!

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#13 Darkdragon

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 04:35 PM

View PostHinckley, on 23 August 2012 - 03:06 PM, said:

CopMike is my personal motivator. I'm motivated by being made fun of. :blush:
:look: Oh, well I guess I won't stop him then.
Did I get you the right answers? Looking forward to seeing your assignment 1.

View PostCopMike, on 23 August 2012 - 04:31 PM, said:

Sorry for intruding on your private session but it was to good of an opportunity to make fun of Hinky-Dinky :laugh:! Love you man :wub:!
Appology accepted. :wink:

#14 Hinckley

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 03:46 AM

I downloaded the manual! That's a step in the right direction at least! :sweet:

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#15 Darkdragon

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 03:49 AM

View PostHinckley, on 02 September 2012 - 03:46 AM, said:

I downloaded the manual! That's a step in the right direction at least! :sweet:
:thumbup: Awesome!

Let me know if you have any questions on it, I have the PDF now too. :laugh:

#16 Hinckley

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 04:26 AM

Great, so what does any of this mean? :blush:

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#17 Darkdragon

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 04:48 AM

I'm not sure how much you already know, so I'll just start at the beginning. :wink:

The aperture is the size of the opening for your lens. It's also referred to as "f-stop" and "f/stop", I have not ready your whole manual myself, but a lot of camera manuals will use all those terms interchangeably.  The larger the number, the smaller the opening. :wacko: that's because the number is actually the bottom of a fraction, so if you think of it as 1/X it's easier to relate to (at least for me). The fraction is, in simple terms, the size of the opening in relation to the size of the lens. I'm already getting too technical here, but just thought I'd give you a little background info.

The point is that when you are NOT zoomed in, you can set your "f-stop" between 3.5 and 8.  F3.5 is what would be considered "wide open" for your lens. That means it is letting in the most light possible through the lens to hit the sensor. An open aperture like that will create shallow depth of field in your image, which will then be compounded if you zoom in (your camera will automatically close the lens a little bit as you zoom in, this is a physical limitation of your camera).

This is the only setting that will affect your Depth of Field, so I recommend concentrating on learning how aperture works and how to manipulate it on your camera. Looking at page 31 it looks pretty simple to adjust your settings using the < and > buttons, but if you have difficulty I will see what I can do to help (I can't buy a copy of your camera though :wink: )  

Things to remember:
  • Aperture = F/Stop
  • Smaller number = bigger hole = more light = shallow DoF
  • Larger number = smaller hole = less light = deep DoF

A little trick you can try to help you understand how the aperture works, at least it helped me, is take a sheet of paper and use a paperclip or pin to poke a tiny whole in it.  Look through that hole at an object across the room.  You'll notice everything is in focus. Now take another sheet of paper and cut a dime-size hole into it. Look through that hole from the same position, at the same object across the room and you should be able to notice that the area around the object is not in as sharp focus as the object itself.  This doesn't work as well for everyone, but you might give it a try and see if it helps you understand at least the idea behind the way aperture works.



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