Oct 252011

Hello Friends, welcome to Shuttermania once again. Hope all of you must be having a great time…. and for those who weren’t having such a good time…. O’ Come ‘on guys and gals… cheer up… life’s too short to be wasted in being down, dull and dingy… Look ahead and stride forward my friends   ; ))

About two weeks ago, I posted a photo album on my personal Facebook page which was a series of “photographic images” that carried an illusion of being “Paintings” instead.  I also posted the same set of images on my 500px.com account.  The post was immediately followed by comments and emails, primarily seeking to have an insight into the technique with which these “painterly” fine art images were created.  Being the nice guy I am   ; ) (ahem ahem),  I promised that I would share the technique through a post on Shuttermania Blog soon…

So here I am, preparing to divulge a secret ritual, known only to an elite few, practiced by even fewer!!  ; ))    OK… kidding aside… lets get moving and discuss our subject for this post… “Paintings Of Another Kind”.  

Now it just so happens that I have had the opportunity to use at least three photographic techniques (if not more), with which I have created photographic fine art images which can closely simulate various kinds of painted effects. In view of this, I decided to break up this subject by specific technique.   For this particular post today, I would be discussing and concentrating on the method more commonly referred to as Double Exposure, Multiple Exposure, or Exposure Composite.

Lets take a quick look at what we are talking about.   I am sharing here, one of the images that I had posted on my Facebook album….

Painting With Double Exposure

Now it may appear to be a painting or artwork created from within Photoshop or Adobe Painter, but trust me, this is an actual photographic double exposure composite and the amount of work done on this image under Photoshop did not include any usage of any kind of Photoshop brushes or such tools… the fact is that this image stayed within Photoshop for approximately three minutes… or perhaps less.   You would soon find out  as we proceed.

Lets quickly talk about Double Exposure or Multiple Exposure for a moment.   Now many of you who may have handled film cameras might already know what a Double Exposure is.  However for those many others who never used a traditional film camera, or who may have used it but are not conversant with the Double Exposure technique, a Double Exposure or Multiple Exposure is the superimposition of two or more images on a single frame of photographic film.  Unlike its normal usage, where a new frame is advanced and placed behind the shutter place upon cranking the film advance lever,  on a Double Exposure, an already exposed frame is held back and retained in its position and re-exposed to another shot, of either the same subject, or an entirely different composition.  The image thus composed, turns out to be the result of exposing the same film frame twice, and the end results can be extremely dramatic, surreal and in some cases, literally out of this world.  Lets take a look at the below example image to understand what a Double Exposure is.

Double Exposure

This Double Exposure technique has been in use for ages.  It has been used by most of the serious photographers sometime during their photographic lives, either for fun’s sake, or to appropriately create a piece of fine art.

This art of Double Exposure almost died with the invention of digital cameras and the reduction and to some degree, a demise, of the use of film based camera equipment.  However thanks to a few digital camera offerings by Nikon and perhaps one or two by Pentax,  the art of Double Exposure was given another lease of life. 

However, in its currently maintained form with digital cameras, an in-camera Double Exposure is not a Double Exposure in reality, but is instead a Photo Composite, which is in fact a totally different technique, where a single frame is not exposed twice to from an image. Instead, two separately exposed frames are “Sandwiched” together to from a single image.   For those camera’s which have this feature built in,  one can actually take between two to nine, and in some cases, up to eleven images as multiple exposures, of the same or different subjects, and the in-camera “Software” merges these images together to form a Double / Multiple Exposure Photo Composite. 

However, for a very large majority of camera owners, whose camera equipment does not offer the option of in-camera multiple exposure compositing,  an almost identical option of photo compositing is available in post processing software of the likes of Adobe Photoshop, Corel Photo-Paint, the open source photo editing software GIMP and similar others on a PC based system and yet many other photo editing programs for those who use Mac based systems. 

Why would the above details be relevant to the creation of these Paintings? you may ask.  Well, primarily for three reasons.   One, I wanted to share with you the details of the Double Exposure concept, and a brief insight into how it was originally done…..  Two, amongst many photography newbies and enthusiasts, those with Nikon and Pentax cameras should refer back to their camera manuals to see if the “Multiple Exposure” option is available on their cameras, and if so,  they are at least equipped with a camera which is capable of creating these type of Painterly images, in-camera, without a significant need for post processing their images in an external software……. and Three, last but not the least, all the others, myself included, whose cameras are not equipped with a “Double Exposure” feature,  all they have to do is to take Two Images, “appropriate” for the creation of this kind of a Painterly image, and make a composite of these images from within their favorite photo editing software.

However, when I say ”Two Images, appropriate for the creation of this kind of a Painterly image” there is one key factor, and that would be CREATIVITY.  Without the creative aspects in the making and selection of your two images to be composited, your final resulting image would not turn out to be what you may have imagined…..  so… let your imagination go wild and see what you can creative.

Now, wasn’t this supposed to be a TUTORIAL???  ; ))    Well guys and gals… I would certainly not part ways without sharing the promised technique which can allow you to creates these Paintings Of Another Kind.   It is much easier than you may have expected it to be… so sit back and go through the exact how to of creating these photographic images with a Painterly effect using Double Exposure Composites.

In order to create the desired Painted image through the use of Double Exposure Compositing, you need at least two images.   One would be the image of your Primary subject, which you intend to render as a painted output. This can be any subject, which could be rendered as a painted image.    A second image would be required to be use as an “Etching” image.  The “Etching” image is the “Secret Ingredient” in this recipe. This  would ideally be a texture, which after being “Sandwiched” with the Primary image, would “Etch” its texture into the primary, thus creating the desired effect and finish.  

For the purpose of this tutorial, we will use the same primary image which was used in the creation of the first photograph of the flower shared above at opening of this post. Lets have a look at this primary image…

Photo Sample For Exposure Compositing

Now let us take a look at a few possible images which we can use as contenders for the “Etching” texture.  Just to retain some suspense, I am deliberately not using, as yet,  the exact Etching Texture that I used on my Paintings.  ; ))     However for the purposes of this tutorial and in order to get your creative juices flowing, I would share 3 possible etching textures here…

Texture Sample For Exposure Compositing

Texture Sample For Exposure Compositing

Texture Sample For Exposure Compositing

As you may have recognized already, the first one is an image captured of a wooden surface.  The second one is a deliberately blurred image of the sun setting as seen through palm trees.   The third one is the image of a stone slab.     We will shortly see how these textures “Etch” into our primary image, however, for the tutorial, we will use the image of the wood grain surface as our etching texture.  

Once you have captured or selected your Primary Image and your Etching Texture image, its time to quickly bring these up into your favorite photo editing software.   For this tutorial, I will be using Adobe Photoshop CS5, and I would move forward with the rest of the tutorial, sharing screenshots and a brief description, with the presumption that the reader knows how to use Photoshop or an editing program similar to it.   If anyone amongst my readers do not know how to use a photo editing program, you simply run a search on Google and there are tons of written and video tutorials which would take you through and make you an expert in using your desired photo editing software.   

Let us open the primary image into Photoshop…..

Double Exposure Compositing - Step 1

Next, open the Etching Texture image.  You would now have two files open within photoshop.

Double Exposure Compositing - Step 3

With the etching texture image on your screen, press CTRL-“A”.  This would select the entire etching texture image. Press CTRL-“C” to copy the etching texture.

Double Exposure Compositing - Step 4

From the open file tabs, select the tab of your “Primary Subject” file, and once the image is visible on your screen, press CTRL-“V”.  This will paste the copied etching texture image onto the Primary image as a New Layer.  Now you would have two layers within this file, one showing Your Primary image as your “Background” layer, and the etching texture image as the new layer, shown in this illustration as Layer 1.

Double Exposure Compositing - Step 5

At this point,  from within the Layers adjustment box, you have the option to select and adjust the Opacity of each of your layer and create your final desired image.   However a quicker way is to select one of the preset Layers merging options available with the Layers adjustment box.  From the dropdown menu (ironically a “drop-up” in this illustration),  you would be presented with several merging options.  However, I have found that for the purposes of creating our desired painterly effect, there are three merging modes with works the best… the rest of them are not really of any good use for our immediate purpose.   These options are “Multiply”, “Overlay” and “Soft Light”.    For this tutorial, I used Overlay mode.  You can choose any of these, depending on the end result you are trying to achieve.  Since the selection and the resulting merger is not permanent, you can select and test the outcome… and if you do not like it, you can change it or revert back to the Opacity option to adjust each layer opacity manually.

Once you have reached this point, you are pretty much done with what you were trying to achieve…. a work which practically got completed in less than 2 minutes in reality.   If however, you feel the need to add/reduce the overall looks of the image at this point, you can move to the next step……

Double Exposure Compositing - Step 6

You can do some final dogging / burning at this stage… meaning, you can add or reduce brightness, contrast, or amend your levels to adjust the overall depth, highlights and shadows within your image.  Remember, whatever changes you are trying to do, are actually taking place on the “Selected” layer, so if it is the Etching texture layer which is selected,  the image would get affected in a different way, and if your selection is your primary subject layer, the changes would create a different effect.  Give it a try and you would explore and see different results with slightly different adjustments.   I personally prefer to hold back the urge to minipulate the image any further, since once you start doing that, you enter the realm of doing more photo-shopping than just the compositing for which we were using the Photoshop software.

From the above process, once I was done with the Primary Subject and Etching Image compositing,  the final results turned out to be as below:

Painting With Double Exposure


So, how the other two Etching Images would have looked had it being used instead of the wood grain image?   Let me show you the results of the sunset etching image and the stone etching image, when used with the same flower image as my Primary subject……

Painting With Double Exposure

Painting With Double Exposure


I also used two other textures…  well, just for the heck of it  ; ))

Painting With Double Exposure

Fresco Painting With Double Exposure


So, which were the images that I prepared to simulate “Painted” images?   I will share a few here, and you can see the rest on my Flickr Set.  Just follow the Flickr link on the right…..

Painting With Double Exposure

Painting With Double Exposure

Painting With Double Exposure

Painting With Double Exposure

Painting With Double Exposure

Painting With Double Exposure


That is all for now folks….. hope you enjoyed the tutorial and I am sure you would be able to create Paintings with Double Exposure Composites similar to or much better than the images shared here.   Just remember, CREATIVE selection of your Primary Image and your Etching image is the KEY….  Your selection of the “Etching Image” is the secret ingredient in your Painterly recipe.  

…. and talking of the Etching Image …… No, I have not forgotten…..  let me share the main etching image, which was used with slight variations within each of the above “Paintings Of Another Kind”!! 

Textures For Double Exposure-005


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So, until the next post….. Have Fun and Happy Creative Shooting!!

Warm wishes,

Omer Sidat

Sep 252011
  • “Would I be able to get a blurred background with this Camera Model?”
  • “Is this a good lens? Will it give me an Out Of Focus background?”
  • “How can I get those blurred out of focus areas you guys refer to as Bokeh?”
  • “How can I isolate my portrait subject by rendering the background out of focus?”

These questions, and similar phrases implying the same or similar meaning, are those which I have come across most often when youngsters, interested in pursuing photography or planning to buy camera equipment, start asking about different aspects of photography and the equipment they either have or wish to buy or expand upon.  I have also come across individuals who have invested an extensive sum of money in buying top of the line gear, asking similar questions while seeking to know what their equipment and set-up is capable of doing. Intrinsically, I am always willing to share, hence I welcome these questions, and always try my best to satisfy the curiosity of the person seeking an answer.  However my take and approach on this subject is a bit different.  In a moment you will find out why it is so.

Indeed, one of the most debated, discussed and dissected subjects on most photography forums, spaces and streams is the subject of “Blur”, also affectionately referred to as “Bokeh”, “Background Blur”, “Subject Isolation”, “Creative Blur” and so on and so forth.

In a lot of cases, whenever such a discussion starts on a forum or social network,  more often then not, one would find it consistently revolving around the “Aperture” of a lens, and a good level of Bokeh or Blur would, in most cases, be attributed, knowingly or unknowingly, to “how wide an aperture” or “how bright a lens” you can use.  Indeed, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this notion… in fact, a bright, wide or comparatively wider open lens aperture does play a key role in providing pleasant, out of focus areas within your composition. But then, in reality,  does having a wide aperture alone provide you with a Pleasant, Creamy, Buttery, Subject Isolating Blur?  The answer to this question is where the domain of the “Aperture” ends and everything else pertaining to creating a “Pleasant, Creamy, Buttery, Subject Isolating blur, begins. The “Aperture” is the tip of the iceberg. An entire mass lives deep beneath.

Coming back to the questions I began this writing with, on most of the instances when I have answered any of these or similar sounding questions, my answer has been short yet deep…  My deliberate choice of response is…  “It Depends!”.   And trust me… It really DEPENDS!!

Before I move deeper into this subject and present to you some concrete examples to explain some of the nitty-gritties behind it, it is essential to understand what the term “BLUR” or “BOKEH” implies in reality.  To some, a mere out of focus area in front of or behind the subject would suffice to give them “their Desired Blur”.  To many others, unless the out of focus areas are creamy and smooth, their pursuit for “The Perfect Bokeh” continues.  But then, what exactly is this BLUR.  What causes it, and why it happens?

Lets take a look at the four images below and take a moment to talk about the impact of aperture in creating a blurry out of focus background. Without much of an effort, most of you would easily be able to see that the background blur in each of these photos is significantly different when compared with each other….

The Blur Factor~20110709-DSC00088~50 mm~1-640 sec at f - 1.4~ISO 100 The Blur Factor~20110709-DSC00096~50 mm~1-640 sec at f - 1.4~ISO 100 The Blur Factor~20110709-DSC00092~50 mm~1-640 sec at f - 1.4~ISO 100

The Blur Factor~20110709-DSC00097~50 mm~1-640 sec at f - 1.4~ISO 100

So, did you see the difference in the quality and texture of blur in each of the above photos? 

I am sure, most of you did. However, I do wonder how many of you keenly observed that the entire camera settings have been clearly mentioned on the lower border of each of these images… and…  SURPRISE! SURPRISE!  If you may have observed keenly enough and compared, you would notice that the camera settings given on each photo is EXACTLY IDENTICAL!! Winking smile.

No, this is certainly not a typographical error Winking smile.  It is a fact that each of the above four images were taken on a brightly lit day in natural light, with a 50 millimeter prime lens, with it’s aperture set to f/1.4 and shutter speed set to 1/640th of a second, and light sensitivity set to ISO 100.   The camera settings were 100 percent identical.  Further more, the angle of view and image framing and size of subject in the frame were all identical as well.  Interesting… isn’t it? Winking smile

Let us review one of the aspects of the camera setting first… the Aperture.   All of the above four images were captured at an aperture of f/1.4, which is perhaps one of the largest common aperture found amongst bright prime lenses, with the exception of  f/1.2, f/1.0 and f/0.95 lenses, the later two of which are neither commonly manufactured nor commonly used.  Given this fact and evaluating from a generally accepted rule of thumb or a common understanding amongst new entrants and amateur photo enthusiasts, having used one of the widest and brightest of apertures in capturing the above four images, the quality and texture of the background blur on each of these images, technically, should have been almost similar, if not identical.

Why is there a difference then?, you may ask.   The answer is… A wide and bright aperture, though desired, is not capable of creating a creamy subject isolating blur in isolation and entirely on its own.  It is only when such a wide aperture is used in conjunction with other key aspects of equipment and compositional understanding and methodologies that one is able to achieve a more pleasing bokeh and a blur which effectively isolates your desired subject.

Before we move further, let us quickly review and evaluate the reasons why there is a difference in the quality and texture of blur between each of the above images.

  • As discussed above, the camera settings, including ISO, focal length of the lens and shutter speed are the same for each of the above images.
  • The framing on each of these images, which for a prime lens**(see side note below), is determined by the distance between the camera and the subject, is the same on all of the above four images.
  • On the first image, the distance between the subject and the background, is more. This has effectively helped in causing a higher level of blur to the background.
  • On the second image, the the subject was moved closer to the background, causing the distance between the subject and the background to be reduced.  This reduction in distance has reduced the overall blurring of the background, by bringing the background more into focus compared to the first image.
  • The third and fourth images have the same aspects as described above, i.e., the subject placement being made away from the background in the third photo and closer to the background in the fourth.  However, with these aspects being identical, the background blur in the first photo and the third photo should have been identical as well, since both of these also have the same subject to background distance.   The thing which creates a difference between the first and the third image, in spite of everything else being the same, is the “Point Of Focus”.  On the first image, the focus is on the face of the subject, where as on the third image, the subject has extended his hands forward and the focus is on his fingertips, which brings the point of focus at least 24 to 30 inches closer to the camera, Due to the lens focusing on a closer point in the third image, it helps rendering the image background more out of focus compared the the first image.

We will shortly revisit and discuss what is the relationship of blurring backgrounds with that of distances between camera to subject and between subject to its background.  For the time being, let us move on and discuss a few other aspects which impact the blur factor.

(**A side note for those who wish to understand and differentiate between a prime lens and a zoom lens. A prime lens has a fixed focal length, like the 50mm or 85mm or similar other prime lenses.  In order to change the composition and framing with a prime, you have to move closer or away from the subject to bring more or less visible area into the captured frame. With a zoom lens, like the 18-55mm lens or 75-300mm lens or similar other lenses, and many variable zoom point and shoot cameras, you can change the framing and visible area of the subject by zooming in and out while remaining stationary at your location, without changing the physical distance between camera and subject.)

Just to jog back a few strides… remember what I mentioned regarding the Aperture part of the blur equation… “A wide and bright aperture, though desired, is not capable of creating a creamy subject isolating blur in isolation and entirely on its own”. Then we moved on and we discussed two of the reasons which aid in producing a higher or lower quality and texture of blur. These were the ”distance between the camera and the subject” and the distance between the subject and the background”. Now let us add one extremely key ingredient to the blur factor.  “The Focal Length Of A Lens”.  And since pictures are worth a thousand words, let us review a few images before we evaluate and discuss how the focal length adds to the equation of the Blur Factor. 

The next four images were all taken with a 70-210mm f/4 zoom lens.  For each of the image, I changed one or more aspects of the composition, including focal length, aperture and shutter speed.  ISO settings were maintained at ISO 100.   Don’t forget to see the camera setting details mentioned on the lower border of each image. It will help in understanding what we will discuss next.

The Blur Factor~20110709-DSC00107~105 mm~1-125 sec at f - 4.0~ISO 100

When evaluating the above image, do realize from the framing and composition that the subject has been placed closer to the background and technically should give a lesser quality of blur, which doesn’t happen to be the case. The focal length used for this image was 105mm which is a little over twice the focal length compared to that of the earlier four images which were taken at 50mm.  In order to keep an almost similar framing and composition, while using a focal length of 105mm, I had to move my camera away from the subject by about twice the distance as much as it was when I used the 50mm lens.  By moving away from the subject, I was able to compose almost a similar (slightly more zoomed in) frame as was done with the 50mm.   However if you look closely, I used an aperture of f/4.0, which is three full stops narrower compared to the completely wide open aperture of f/1.4 used in the earlier images.  Yet, surprisingly, the blur in the background and the quality of its texture has increased and have become comparatively better in the above image than the first image taken with the 50mm at f/1.4.   Let us see the remaining three images from this group.

The Blur Factor~20110709-DSC00114~210 mm~1-125 sec at f - 4.0~ISO 100

The Blur Factor~20110709-DSC00115~210 mm~1-30 sec at f - 8.0~ISO 100

The Blur Factor~20110709-DSC00117~210 mm~1-8 sec at f - 16~ISO 100

As you would have seen by now, the above three images were taken at a focal length of 210mm.  The position of the subject and his distance from the background was the same as was in the image taken at 105mm.  I also had the camera set up at the same position as with the 105mm image, as such, while zooming the lens to 210mm focal length,  the area within the frame changed from a torso image to a head shot.  The key thing to understand here is this….   On the first of the above three images, the aperture was set to f/4.0, same as the 105mm shot which was 3 full stops slower/narrower compared to the fully open f/1.4 used with the 50mm.  Yet, the quality and texture of the background blur tremendously improved, making it more creamer and softer compared to any of the other exposure equations I have presented so far.

The second image from the above 210mm group was taken using f/8.0, a full 5 stops narrower and slower compared to the fully open f/1.4 used with the 50mm.  In spite of this, the quality and texture of the blur taken with 210mm at f/8.0 exceeds that taken with the 50mm f/1.4.

The third image at the 210mm focal length was taken with the aperture set to f/16, which is a whooping 7 stops slower and narrower compared to the f/1.4, and only at this point the background blur is somewhat comparable to the images taken with the 50mm f/1.4.

For all of the above four images taken with the 70-210mm zoom lens, keep in mind that the subject to background distance was fairly less, where as the distance between the camera and the subject and the focal length were increased.

Lets add two more images to the equation…

The Blur Factor~20110625-DSC00036~500 mm~1-40 sec at f - 6.3~ISO 100

The Blur Factor~20110625-DSC00037~500 mm~1-25 sec at f - 8.0~ISO 100

Both of the above images were taken at 500mm focal length.  The background in this case was just about 4 feet behind the subject and was somewhat a busy background.   Yet, with the usage of 500mm focal length, used at apertures of f/6.3 as well as f/8.0, the background is reasonably blurred.

While on the subject of using focal length as a factor to create blurry backgrounds, I would like to share 3 more images which would help adding another dimension to the blur factor.  So far, on all of the images shared above, the subject has been placed fairly close to the background, within 4 to 6 feet distance.  Lets see what happens when, while using a longer focal length, we also bring in a longer distance between the subject and its background.

The Blur Factor~20090311-DSC09930~400mm~1-25 sec at f- 8.0~ISO 100

The Blur Factor~20090311-DSC09941~400mm~1-30 sec at f - 8.0~ISO 100

Both of the above images were taken with a 200mm f/4.0 prime lens, at an aperture of f/4.0 but with a 2X teleconverter added to the lens. This effectively changed the focal length of the lens to a 400mm. However the 2 times focal length multiplier also caused the effective aperture of f/4.0 to be reduced by 2 stops to make it an f/8.0 lens.   The key aspect in this image worth identifying here is the distance between the subject and the background, which was at least 25 to 30 feet away.  This resulted in a beautifully creamy background blur, enabling to perfectly isolate and bring full attention to the subject.

The Blur Factor~20090314-DSC00154~200mm~1-640 sec at f - 4.0~ISO 100

The same 200mm f/4.0 lens was used in the above image, this time, without the 2X teleconverter.  In this image, the background was about 20 feet behind the subject, however I utilized the minimum focusing distance capable on the 200mm lens to take this shot, which allowed me to get my camera closer to the subject, resulting in a beautifully and completely blurred background.

Up until this point, we have indeed covered a lot of ground.  We talked about the Aperture, the Point Of Focus, the Distances, the Focal Length of a Lens and we carefully added each mix to the Blur Factor equation, reviewing the end result achieved through each change and / or addition.  What all of this leads us to, is something extremely important in order to understand photographic composition and the correct usage of your camera, lens and its settings.  All of these factors, in their own isolated usage, as well as when combined, cause what in photographic terms is referred to as “Depth Of Field”, or as affectionately referred to by seasoned photographers and novices alike, the “DOF”.

What has DOF got to do with the Blur Factor, you may ask.   Well, almost Everything!!  Winking smile.  Every single element so far discussed, directly or indirectly causes a change in the Depth of Field whereby causing a change in the blurring of a section of your image, may it be the foreground or pertaining to the background. We are able to find tremendous quantum of information on the web which explains in detail as to what Depth of Field is, why is it so and how it works.   I would try to only touch upon the subject of depth of field, purely from the standpoint of explaining the relation between DOF and the Blur Factor.

When a camera and lens combination is focused on a “Point Of Focus” to capture an image, the maximum distance that remains in sharp focus in front of and behind that “Point Of Focus” is called the Depth Of Field. If for the sake of this explanation we call this sharply focused area as the DOF Zone,  then effectively anything that appears prior to the front most point of this Zone and after it’s rearmost point would start showing a sign of being out of focus, hence causing a blur.  The actual DOF Zone, however, changes as a direct result of Aperture, Focal Length, and Distances.

  • A lens equipped with a wide open aperture, similar to a 50mm lens with an f/1.4 or f/2.8 aperture opening is capable of having a short DOF Zone, in other words, a shallow depth of field.  I deliberately used the term “capable of having”… the reason behind it is that this and similar other lenses, in spite of being used wide open, if focused to just before or around a median point within your frame (technically termed as the Hyperfocal Distance), would render most of the image in front of and behind the focus point in complete focus.  However, when creatively used to capture a subject and managing the distances with a need to have background blurred and your subject isolated, it can cause to have a shallow depth of field, whereby generating a blurred background.
  • A lens with a focal length falling within the genre of a Telephoto Lens, which typically starts 70mm onwards, would be capable of demonstrating a very shallow depth of field.  A telephoto lens falling within 400mm to 600mm and above would have an extremely shallow depth of field even when focused on far out objects.  Such a telephoto lens, when equipped with a wider aperture like f/2.8, f/4.0 or f/5.6, can easily create a beautifully blurred background, with a crisp and clean subject totally isolated from its surroundings.
  • As for the distance,  the closer a subject is to the camera, the shallower the depth of field becomes, Similarly, the further the subject is from its background, the shallower the depth of field becomes.  However the integration of distance into the The Blur Factor equation, cannot play a role in isolation and is dependent entirely on the Focal length of the lens and its aperture used for a specific capture. You can see this integrated into some of the above example images.
  • Last, but not the least, when we talk about the Focal Length of a lens, in principal we are also talking about the Angle of View of that lens.  Consequently, a lens with a Narrow angle of view, like a Telephoto lens would be more capable of creating a pleasant blur due to an intrinsic shallower depth of field compared to a lens with a wider angle of view, like a 24mm or 18mm lens, which can hardly create any out of focus blurred backgrounds or foregrounds.

Lets take a 360 degree turn and share with you two images where you should not expect to see any back or foreground blur at all.  Winking smile

The Blur Factor~20110709-DSC00140~22 mm~1-160 sec at f - 4.0~ISO 100

The Blur Factor~20110709-DSC00143~24 mm~1-6 sec at f - 16~ISO 100

A wide-angle lens and background blur do not go anywhere close together Winking smile.  Even if you have a wide angle lens with a bright aperture of f/2.0 or f/2.8, except when the Point of Focus of the lens is reasonably close within just a foot or so, it will render everything in focus in almost all other instances.   As you can see from the two images above, where the first one was taken at 22mm f/4.0, whereas the second one was taken at 24mm f/16.  No doubt that the one taken with f/16, has every single element in sharp focus, yet the one taken even at f/4.0 is a totally different image compared to many of the f/4.0 or narrower aperture images taken with lenses of 50mm focal length and longer.

So, how do we carry all of the above in a small drive-thru takeaway package? Something which everyone can enjoy on the go…   Well… as said, “the devil is in the details”…. however, I would surely try to squeeze all of this into something which may come in handy on the go…  so here you are:

  • The wider the Aperture, the shallower the Depth of Field (DOF), equals better background blur
  • The longer the Focal Length, the shallower the DOF, equals better background blur
  • The narrower the Angle Of View the shallower the DOF, equals better background blur
  • The closer the Distance between Camera and Subject, the shallower the DOF, better background blur
  • The longer the Distance between Subject and Background, the shallower the DOF, better background blur
  • Combine any two of the above factors together, your Blur Factor multiplies. Example: A 200mm lens with an aperture of f/2.8.
  • Combine any four of the above factors, and your Blur Factor Quadruplies (wonder if there at all is such a word) Winking smile.  Example would be a 200mm lens with an aperture of f/2.8, with the subject placed 12 feet from the camera and 30 feet before the background Winking smile

OK, now I am not supposed to tell you everything… so go out there, do some shooting and put what you may have learned from this post to use, and consequently, learn more in the process.  As I had said in another post on this blog, digital photography has really become affordable. If you own a digital camera, you have already incurred all the expenditure there was to it. Your first shot cost you the amount you paid for the media card…. all your subsequent shots are free.. at least for the life of that media card!!…   The luxury of the Digital Era!

You thought this was the end… didn’t you???  Well not really…..

The Blur Factor….. and Beyond..!

There are two other areas pertaining to The Blur Factor.

One of these is so blurry that photographers try to come up with various techniques to actually overcome and reduce the blur.   This is the extremely addictive world of Close-up, Macro and Extreme Macro photography, where photographers try to get as close as possible within the close-up domain, while some try to achieve a 1:1 life size macro image capture on the camera sensor, yet other even try to exceed their own and their equipment limits by capturing bigger than life size extreme macro image 2:1 and beyond.  The depth of field at such close and hyperclose distances is so extremely shallow that while trying to get the head of a tiny insect into sharp focus, you come to realize that the rear part of the insect’s body has gone blurred and the surrounding turned into an ultra creamy and smooth blur.  On such occasions, using a narrowed down aperture to a lens’ lowest aperture limit is also sometimes found to be a barrier, with a need to narrow down further or to delve into the domains of focus stacking.  I would leave this subject here, to be covered in another blog post as this subject is as detailed and unique as the Blur Factor itself.  Hopefully, I would be able to come up with the post soon.  Just to give you a sneak peek into the subject, let me share that on a few occasions, I have had the opportunity of narrowing down my aperture to and beyond f/32, and yet, the Blur Factor prevailed…Extreme Macro - N0000087

Extreme Macro -20101105-P1060292

Another area pertaining to the Blur Factor is “Creative Blur” or “Creative Bokeh”.   A vast array of techniques are being used by professionals as well as novices to come up with a blur on their images, either on the subject, or it’s foreground, or background, all of which appear pleasing to the viewer.  This is another area which needs to be explored in an independent way, and I would soon be writing a more detailed post about this subject.  Meanwhile, have a look at few of the creatively blurred compositions…

The Blur Factor~20110422-DSC08083~50mmLB~1-60 sec at f - 2.8~ISO 200

The Blur Factor~20110602-DSC09459~50mmLB~1-60 sec at f - 2.8~ISO 100


That is all for now, folks.  I hope you enjoyed the post and found this topic and what has been shared in this post to be of some usefulness towards your goal of creating better images.  Wish you best of luck with your snapping session.  I would eagerly be looking forward to your thoughts and comments.

Until the next post, have fun and all the best!


Jul 102011

Lets begin with a  few basic tips.  These are practical tips that we come across in our usual photo capturing spree.  Here they are:

(Note:  Clicking the below photos will take you to its Flickr page, where you can select to view a larger version of each of these photos.)

  • Your Camera Manual was not included in your camera box just because the camera manufacturer had excess printed copies in hand.  It was placed in the box to make YOU, the User, aware of the different functions and capabilities of your equipment.  READ IT!!  Even if you are a “Techy” or someone who has had more camera changes than their own wardrobe, it would still be as helpful as it would be to a novice. Reading this manual and referring to it again when needed would allow you to get the maximum potential out of your equipment. There is certainly no disgrace in referring back to your camera manual, even if you are a “Know It All” professional.

Your Camera Manual

  • As soon as you are ready for your Photo “Workout”, remove your lens cap as a starter.  You do not want to miss “that one great shot” just because you were fiddling with your lens cap and the photo opportunity got away.  (You might say… Oh Come ‘on…  This is Common Sense!!!   Well,  this happens to camera owners every day… which emphasizes the fact that “spontaneity” may not necessarily fall under the realm of “common sense”  ;D )

Remove The Lens Cap

  • Camera’s are NOT made horizontal so that we take all photos horizontally. It is good to try a “Vertical Orientation” at times when the subject and scene demands it.  ; )

Vertical Orientation

  • Before you press the shutter button, at least make up your mind on WHAT you want and intend to shoot. A pointless spree of clicking everything that comes in your way will only give you a belly full of your computer’s hard drive space, without giving you any productive and creative output.
  • God has created our horizon horizontally leveled.  Who are we to change that!!  So, Unless it is a creative requirement or an attempt to present a different angle of view, DO NOT TILT the horizontal / vertical axis of a subject.

Tilted Horizon
Horizontally Leveled Horizon

  • It is certainly not necessary to keep the subject of our photo in the center of the frame.  In fact, keeping the subject off center in a lot of cases looks better and gives your shot better compositional characteristics.  At this point, I would not like to entangle my readers into the “Rule Of The Thirds” (We will surely talk about it in a few days). Nonetheless, the ROT was made to allow photographers to move their focal element and point of view around the frame. Use it with creativity.

Off Centered Subject

  • Whenever an opportunity presents itself, get close and personal  ; ))  err… I mean, Fill The Frame!!

Fill The Frame

  • There should be a difference between pressing the shutter button with “Our Eyes Closed”,  and “Our Eyes Viewing The Scene” that we intend to capture.  A Snapshot versus A Photograph. The later is better. Always try to “Compose” your shot with an intent to present creativity  ; ))
  • During the old Film Camera days,  we used to get our film rolls developed and processed into photographs.  Consider your “Out Of Camera” (OOC) images as negatives. Develop and Process them into Photographs.
  • Be critical of your own shots.  Look for faults.  Take another shot to correct the fault that you see…. Use the liberty of Free Instant Film… Your first shot cost you the amount you paid for the media card…. all your subsequent shots are free.. at least for the life of that media card!!…   The luxury of the Digital Era!

Above all, ENJOY your photographic exploration and what you learn in the process, share it with others. It will only enhance your own learning.

By the way…… Stay tuned for the upcoming “Mega” Post…. 

“The Blur Factor”!!  The hidden and not-so-discussed aspects behind the much talked about “Bokeh”

Want a sneak peek? Have a look at the image below.

The Blur Factor

Until then, be safe everyone!

Omer Sidat

Jun 072011

Welcome to Shuttermania.

It is a place for people who would like to “Fuel Their Passion For Photography”.

Within this blog, I intend to touch upon various day to day elements of photography, including but certainly not limited to everyday usage of our camera and related equipment, exposure and composition, DIY camera equipment, home and studio strobing and many other things pertaining to and to be of interest to novices, amateurs and professionals alike.

You are more than welcome to share your constructive comments.

Thank you.

Omer Sidat

Capturing Landscapes-20100130-06060