Lens Choice and Depth of Field as a Creative Photography Tool

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JP Morgan goes back to the basics of depth of field to show how you can use shallow versus scenic Depth of Field to become more creative with your images. In the video JP is on location at Vasquez Rocks in California doing a fashion shoot. The model looks stunning in a red dress, contrasting against the brown monochromatic colors of the backdrop of rocks. Combining the striking color contrasts with creative lens options, JP walks us through the depth of field basics, revisited in a different way:

To start with, JP uses a two light setup with sun as a rim light and a strobe as key lighting. He uses a Dynolight travel head with Photoflex Softbox on her face, keeping her head turned slightly from the sun to avoid it hitting her nose and face. He then keeps the same basic frame set up and shows us how the different lens (and later, aperture/depth of field) options effect the image. This video revisits a basic principle in a different way, JP explains it quite eloquently.

“Every time I do a lesson where I stop and look at a basic principle of photography, I learn something. Even though I have shot for years, using different lenses and different apertures, it’s just good to step back, look at the basics, understand them a little better, and then you can apply them more effectively.”

We are first given an example, shooting at F/11 and 160 ISO without the added Softbox and just the sun framing the model’s body on the left side.

Creative Depth of Field without Softobox

He then shows us the difference after adding the artificial lighting, striving for soft light on her face and body.

Creative Depth of Field with Softbox

Finally, he plays with three different lenses and the same depth of field, keeping the model the same size in the frame to show us the dramatic creative effects one can create by simply changing lenses.

Creative Depth of Field Comparison of Different Lens Sizes

The difficulty with using 100 and 200 mm lenses in fashion photography is having to have the room to work, because of having to back away from the subject. However, if the situation allows, lenses can be used to create very dramatic effects. In the last image with a 200 mm lens at 2.8, you get more of a traditional fashion photography kind of feel, but it drowns out the entire background so you cannot even tell where she is, taking away all texture.

Like JP says,
“There is no right or wrong choice, just another tool to be used to tell your story.”

The video goes on to show different apertures and different lenses in a variety of combinations, we cannot show them all here, so check it out for yourself! The possibilities are endless.

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One Comment

  1. Tony Prower says:

    Focal length and distance is a lesser discussed aspect of DOF discussions. This article discusses it well and has some great demonstrations. It’s the middle one for me!

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