Manipulating depth of field so the viewer completes the photograph

How to inspire your photography

Photographers are often just too literal. Especially with wildlife photographers, see animal and photograph animal. Very similar to a crocodile, see animal and eat animal. With the predominate focus being around equipment used, the settings of that equipment and the species of animal. So there are two approaching styles when we have camera in hand. Those that want to get a pin sharp and correctly exposed documentative type wildlife photograph. Verses the creative, where exposure remains fundamental to the aesthetics of a good photograph, but sharpness and species becoming irrelevant.

Read my blog on Blurring Dogs,

All wildlife photographers, will flip flop between these two approaches in their photography. A popular creative style is to reduce your shutter speed and pan with your subject as they are moving, also known as motion blur. This requires movement, so how can we get creative with stationary subject?

Manipulating Depth of field

A very important component with creativity in Nature photography, is trying to not be so literal, with their images. Central to this is start seeing shape and shade over species and settings.

I have started a personal project that I shoot with a very shallow depth of field and intentionally get the the subject completely out of focus. Then playing with light and shadow to start painting a very abstract view on the animal being photographed.

If these images were in focus, your eye would have passed over them and would not given them a second thought … now they have inspired a sense of curiosity

… and that is the point

Things to consider

Like motion blur, there are some trick and tips when it comes to out of focus images (Ofdof images). Below are a few things I have learnt …

  • Firstly there is a different between taking the focus out from the back of the subject to the front of the subject. Meaning if your subject is in focus, by manually turning the focus ring to the right and the point of focus moves behind the subject bring a very different effect to bring the point of focus in-front of the subject. Play with both to find what works best for your scene.
  • The shallowest depth of field may be too much blur, you may want to add some detail.
  • Nothing should be in focus, if your subject is blurred but a stick/grass is in focus in-front or behind, then it just looks like a out of focus image.
  • Look for patterns, so Zebra, giraffe and spotted animals works really well.
  • Deep contrast becomes your friend.

I know that not everybody will like these abstract take on wildlife images, if everybody did the world would be boring … but if you do please drop me a note to tell me and tag me if your have tried these Ofdof images?

Regards

Etienne

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