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Arriving at the best exposure for a photo is part science and part art. In Foundations of Photography: Exposure, Ben Long helps photographers expand their artistic options by giving them a deep understanding of shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and all other critical exposure practices. This course covers the basic exposure controls provided by all digital SLR cameras, as well as most advanced point-and-shoot models. Learn how to master a camera's metering modes, how to use exposure compensation and bracketing, and much more. By the end of the course, you'll know how to develop an "exposure strategy" that will allow you to effectively employ your exposure knowledge in any shooting situation.
We've already talked at length about aperture and its impact on depth of field, the amount of depth in the image that's in focus. You have seen how you can make your aperture larger to make shallower depth of field, and that's what we're going to do here. We've left the studio, we are out in this beautiful location, and I am going to take a shot of Ben here. And I want to blur out the background. Even though it's this beautiful vista back there, I want to shoot it with shallow depth of field to bring more focus onto his face. Now, depth of field involves--shooting shallow depth of field involves more than just opening your aperture up all the way.
As you're about to see, camera position has a lot to do with the perception of depth in a scene. So I am going to just take a shot here. I have got a reasonably fast lens. I can open it up to f4. So I have got my aperture open all the way. Now, this is not a nice thing to do to your friends, to get real close to them and shoot with really wide angles. Something we haven't talked about yet is the effect of focal length on the sense of depth in the scene, and you are going to learn about that in detail in "Foundations of Photography: Lenses". But I am right on top of him, and to get him framed the way, I want to have to go to a pretty wide angle, which is not the most flattering look, but it's going to work well for our example.
So obviously, our wide angle here is making him look a little goofy. But what we are more interested in here is the depth of field. Yes, it's a little shallow, but it doesn't look that shallow. I can still see this mountain back here and these trees. What I would rather do is frame him tighter so that the mountain fills more of the back of the frame. So to do that, I can't do that with this wide-angle lens. I need to zoom more in. So to do that, I've got to come back here. So if I come back to about here and zoom in, what I am doing is framing him as close as possible to the exact same way.
I want his head in about the same position. I want the mountain back there, and now when I take the shot, I get this. Same aperture in both shots, but different camera positions because of that different focal lengths in both shots. As you can see in this shot, it just appears to have much shallower depth of field, and it's kind of an optical illusion almost. Because the mountain is bigger in the background, I can see much more clearly how much it's defocusing. It's actually defocusing the same amount in both shots. It's just because the background is bigger, I can see that defocusing more in the second shot.
So camera position and focal length are critical to getting shallow depth of field, because in addition to aperture size, one of the things that creates a sense of shallow depth of field in the image is the size of your background. You want background objects big enough that you can see the defocusing, and very often the only way to get that is to put on a more telephoto lens and get farther away from your subject. So people kind of just simplify this down to if you want shallow depth of field. You've got to be shooting with a longer focal length. There's not an optical reason for that. It's purely about just size of objects in the background.
So when you are trying to go for those really shallow depth-of-field images, remember to zoom in and position your camera appropriately.
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