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Thread: Aperture used for portrait - What do you think?

  1. #1

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    Aperture used for portrait - What do you think?

    Hi,

    How are you guys doing? I hope you are doing very well : )!!!

    I was looking at portraits on flickr and I saw this portrait about a month
    ago or five weeks, perhaps a bit longer. I have looked at it several times.
    I find it a nice casual portrait. Also, for me very powerful.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyke...mcPxT1-2nrEbok

    I find three things technically interesting. One, that the camera, seems to
    me, was relatively close, not far from the subject. Two, perhaps relevant
    when talking about lenses, the aperture value was f/11 when taking the
    picture. Three, film was rated at 250ISO.

    With regard to the choice for the aperture value, I like that the choice is f/11.
    I have never experimented enough, perhaps. I, for example, don't go below
    f/16. I usually shoot at f/22. In this portrait, the depth of field is relatively shallow
    as one can appreciate, but it does its job in portraying this lady. The lens, a
    210mm. with f/5.6, is closed two stops until f/11. For this lens it is two stops
    what is needed to achieve this depth of field from its focused point. And it looks
    good, or what do you think?

    I wonder, if as a good rule of thumbs, one could say: "close the diaphragm around
    two stops, and you'll achieve a depth of field like in the above picture". Not all
    lenses are f/5.6. I wonder if lenses with smaller 'starting' apertures like f/6.1,
    f/6.3, f/9, etc. could apply, as a general rule, that stepping down by two apertures
    resulting in pictures like the above one.

    Thank you very much in advance, kind regards,

    Ig Nacio : )!!!

  2. #2
    Pieter's Avatar
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    Re: Aperture used for portrait - What do you think?

    Depth of filed will vary with the focal length of the lens used, but will be the same for the same focal length. Maximum aperture will not affect the depth of field at any given f-stop. A 210mm 5.6 lens stopped down to 11 will have the same depth of field as a 210mm 8 stopped down to 11. What may vary is the sharpness.

  3. #3

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    Re: Aperture used for portrait - What do you think?

    You should use an aperture that gives you depth of field from the tip of the nose to the base of the ear.

  4. #4

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    Re: Aperture used for portrait - What do you think?

    Hi,

    Thank you for your message Pieter : )!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Pieter View Post
    Depth of filed will vary with the focal length of the lens used, but will be the same for the same focal length. Maximum aperture will not affect the depth of field at any given f-stop. A 210mm 5.6 lens stopped down to 11 will have the same depth of field as a 210mm 8 stopped down to 11. What may vary is the sharpness.
    Wow, very interesting : )!!! Based on what you say, which are the most preferred focal lengths, or even lenses in that focal length, that give you more depth of field, but stopping down the lens?

  5. #5

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    Re: Aperture used for portrait - What do you think?

    Hi,

    Thank you for your message Bob : )!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Salomon View Post
    You should use an aperture that gives you depth of field from the tip of the nose to the base of the ear.
    Yes, good idea : )!!! I'll have to experiment a bit on my own. I may use a mannequin to have a still figure all the time and be able to see lens performance with regard
    to depth of field. I may also use a roll film back, (6x9, or 6x7), closing in enough, in order to get more practice perhaps.

  6. #6
    Pieter's Avatar
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    Re: Aperture used for portrait - What do you think?

    This may or may not help you in your quest: set up a pice of stiff material--foam core, mat board, or a piece of paper taped or glued to southing rigid. On the surface, carefully draw a series of straight, parallel lines with a thin marker about 5 cm apart. Make the middle on with a big dot. Now set up the board at the distance that feels like what you would use for a portrait, and angle the board at about 45 to the camera/film plane, with the lines perpendicular to the ground. Carefully focus on the cent line, makes with the dot. If there is enough light start stopping down the lens and observe how many of the lines in front and behind the counter one are in focus. That should give you a good idea of how much depth of filed you will have an a given stop at that distance with that lens. If you can't judge it well in the viewfinder, shoot some film and look at the negatives with a loupe. It helps to label the f-stop used in each shot. Here is what I have used:

    Click image for larger version. 

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  7. #7

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    Re: Aperture used for portrait - What do you think?

    You should use the aperture that gives you the DOF that you want for the subject. For one portrait it might be "from the tip of the nose to the base of the ear", but for another it might be much more or much less -- for example, a head shot versus the portrait above.

    And there are different ways/methods to determine the DOF that you are going to get -- once you determine what the front and rear of the DOF should be for that subject.

  8. #8
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    Re: Aperture used for portrait - What do you think?

    hi Ig Nacio only rule is there are no rules. LOL
    I like to front and back focus with portraits sometimes
    different things come into view. I worked with a classically trained
    portrait photographer who would probably faint if she heard me say that.
    she was a focus on the eyes, light like Karsh shoot at f16 1/2
    use 4 lights and process everything in dk50 ... but then again when she wasn't
    doing client work she was kind of mad so who knows what she would be thinking..

  9. #9
    Pieter's Avatar
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    Re: Aperture used for portrait - What do you think?

    Seems like the OP wants the entire face in focus, but the background soft, from the example he cited.

  10. #10

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    Re: Aperture used for portrait - What do you think?

    Ig Nacio, I am also very fond of this portrait by Toby, and have studied it as you have.

    The advice above is good, if contradictory in some aspects. There is one other aspect that has not been touched upon here: the photographer's original framing and the final cropping. It appears to have been, and may have been, horizontal, with a crop of one or both sides from the full 4x5 frame. However, it could also be cropped on three or four sides, and could even have been vertically framed and then cropped, though some evidence suggests otherwise. Assuming we see close to full crop vertically from a horizontal framing, the lens would probably have been about 7' from the subject, yielding an f/11 total DOF of about 9". We can't tell how far forward it extended, due to the framing/crop on the left.

    That's all after-the-fact observation. Portraiture on location requires sensitivity to what's actually in front of the camera and how that particular situation is rendered from that perspective (not just horizontal distance but exact placement that aligns all elements of foreground and background, with a DOF that comes as close to ideal for that image as the photographer can make it. As pointed out by others above, that changes from setting to setting. Even if one chooses a style that he or she wishes to carry across a series of images, there will probably be adjustments made in various circumstances.

    We have think on our feet, as the saying goes -- one of the many challenges of successful portraiture.

    If you imagine changing the setting of this portrait to another location even within this same "alley" of buildings, or find a similar setting to which you have access, the visual changes could well oblige you to change your framing, your distance to the subject, your DOF, your angle, to achieve the unity of composition that works there.

    Sometimes it's valuable to try to replicate an image, at least in certain respects, with your own equipment and location, under similar lighting conditions, and see what it takes, from the exposure to the final print. A great deal can be learned from the exercise, especially if you don't do it just once but keep trying at least several times to achieve the look you are trying to replicate. Variables will make themselves evident. Mastery is a continuing process.
    Philip Ulanowsky

    Sine scientia ars nihil est. (Without science/knowledge, art is nothing.)
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/156933346@N07/

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