Sad Sad Elephant

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting around the house with my macro lens.  I suppose there are two things I really like about it.  Seeing small things big, as simple as it sounds, can often reveal things you wouldn’t otherwise notice.  The second thing is that macros are notorious for shallow depth of field.

This shot isn’t new, but it’s also from my 100 mm macro.  It comes courtesy of the shots I did at the zoo way back when.  What it does share, however, is the super shallow depth of field.

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I love keeping things simple.  If you’re blessed with a subject isolated from a background, you’re all set.  If you’re (more likely) taking pictures of something with a distracting background, shooting for shallow DoF takes care of the problem for you.

If you don’t have a macro lens, you can still get shallow DoF, at least to a point.  Here are the steps:

1.  Open it up.  Whatever your available aperture settings (f-stop) are, make sure you’re using the widest (smallest number) possible.  This is often not a problem as unless you’re shooting under a lot of light, most cameras will do this automatically.  For the cheaters out there, the “Portrait” setting found on most cameras is going to pick settings to minimize depth of field for the same reasons as I describe above.  Use it as a quick way to get these settings.

2.  Get as close as possible to your subject.  Each camera and lens has a minimum focusing distance, and unfortunately this can be much farther than you want, but get as close as you can and still focus.

3.  Position yourself so that things in the picture other than the subject are as far away as possible – just get as much separation as you can.

That’s it – with any luck, you should end up with a sharp subject and buttery smooth bliss in the background.

Dandelion: Full Of Possibilities

Dandelions have got to be the most taboo (and therefore alluring) weed… well… maybe second most.  Other than their abilities to be turned into wine, and to sell specialized gardening implements, what other plant tempts you so much to just go over there and send all of its little seeds airborne?  If other weeds were so fun to spread, they’d do much better.


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I shot this one portrait style – maximum aperture for minimum depth of field.  It’s not the most original picture.  Lots of people have seen a dandelion before, but I really like how the grass just dissolves into a sheet of green.  As one reader with much better skills than I have said, the rule for wildlife photography is to nail the focus on the eyes.  I guess my correlary is when shooting weeds, nail the part that would be the eye if this thing came to life.  And then watch your back – you never know when the anthropomorphic dandelion zombies might get you.