Lesson 4 Module 1
When people are asked to recall things from the past, they recall two things. They recall the general ambiance and they recall the little things. We are able to remember really small details decades after, small things that somehow stirred some emotions or sensory experience – like the feeling of a smooth pebble you picked up from the riverbank that one time you went for a swim there. Or the look of your son’s perfect little tiny fingers curled up around your finger giving you butterflies in your stomach.
We are creatures of extremes. Our memory does not like to dwell in the middle, we go wide or we zoom in right to the detail.
So how do we go about capturing that lovely detail shot? Your main job is to find a way to make the details stand out . And there are a few ways in which you can do it.
Make the subject stand out by physically removing the distractions
And I mean it quite literally – walking up to your subject and moving away all the stuff which does not belong. A variation of this is using something – like a blanket – which will cover the elements you don’t want to see in the image and help highlight your subject.
Make the subject stand out by finding an angle which minimizes the distractions.
For instance – if you’re shooting directly from above your subject, you will only need to make sure that the area your subject is directly on is clear, the rest can be as messy as you wish. Shooting at flat angles, parallel to the ground can help remove distractions from the ground and help you build depth. Pretty much the worst angle you can do is one where you shoot at a slightly tilted angle.
Where you are in relation to the subject makes a difference too – sometimes shifting even a few inches to the side or up or down will make a huge difference to what you can see.
Make the subject stand out by using other elements in the frame to draw our attention to it.
Sometimes it’s not so much about removing things from view as it is about using them to shine a spotlight on your subject. Find something that can frame it, contrast with it and it can work very well.
Make the subject stand out by choosing a lens length which narrows down the field of view.
Or in plain English – zoom in with your lens - yes, even if you are already close to your subject (you may need to move a little bit away) because not only does it cut out the emount of stuff that makes it way into the background ( compared to no zoom) but it also helps with blurring out the background.
Make the subject stand out by creating a background blur effect which helps you visually ‘hide’ things in plain sight.
If you want to know how to create that blurry background we have a tutorial on how to create that blurry background which is a part of our Clickstarter course. I’m not going to replicate it, but simply link it here to the pdf print out which walks you through it.
A BIB BIG CAVEAT HERE ON THE BLUR FRONT: you will be seeing images come through on the facebook group where the blur is like milk, thick and impenetrable and the lovely details stand out against it beautifully. You will try and replicate them with your camera and get very frustrated and annoyed that yours don’t come out that way. You will be blaming yourself but the truth is – it’s not you – it’s your lens.
In most cases, in order to get that really strong blur, you do need a lens with what we call a wide aperture. The lenses which come with your camera as standard just can’t compete. But it doesn’t mean you can’t get any blur, just not quite as much. Your two secret weapons will be zooming in as much as you can – and I mean ALL THE WAY – and getting physically close to your subject. This bit a bit more technical, so if you're not getting how you like it – post to FB – I will help!
Other technical considerations
Your camera settings: If you’re shooting on auto, you have 2 options – if you have a setting on your camera called Macro, use that – it allows you to get close to your subject in order to focus. Alternatively, you could try the “portrait’ preset which is set up in a similar way or you can just leave your camera on auto.
If you’re shooting in priority modes ( A, AV, S, Tv) – switch to Aperture priority and set your aperture to the widest setting ( smallest number)If you’re shooting in full manual, again, get your aperture as wide as it gets and use the other settings to make it work.
Your lens: Zoom, zoom and then zoom some more. This is what will allow you to create that separation between sharp and blurry. And get close to your subject.