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I was going to label this Aperture and Bokeh. But the definition of bokeh is the quality of the out of focus  part of your image. I don't want to make this assignment more complicated than necessary so I am addressing just the technical aspect, and leaving the artistic part open to interpretation.

Most of you already know this stuff. I hope to help those that don't totally understand it, and to give those that do some extra things to think about.

So here is a video that explains depth of field pretty well. It's only about 15 minutes and easy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34jkJoN8qOI

And here is a pdf with photos illustrating what I think are the main things to consider when deciding on aperture, depth of field and the type of look you are trying to achieve with your photos.

aperture%20and%20depth%20of%20field.pdf

THE ASSIGNMENT: (edited Nov. 8)
I want you to take photos with shallow depth of field. The requirements:
1. blurry background and sharp eyes
2. shoot wide open. (the largest aperture on your lens--smallest number)
3. The photo must include a dog as the subject.
4. Since we are learning about how aperture and lens affects DOF, every photo posted must include the focal length and the aperture setting (85mm f2.8)

Experiment with how to get the background out of focus and have the eyes sharp. 
The pdf explains the principles on how to create images with shallow depth of field, but to summarize:
1. Use a large aperture (small number)
2. Use a longer focal length (larger mm for your lens)
3. Get closer to your subject.
4. Get farther away from your background.

I know for some of you it will be a challenge as you will need to set your focus point on single point and be more critical when focusing. Make sure that single focus point is on the eye of your dog. It's harder at wide apertures. Take more photos if necessary. It may require learning about the focusing system of your camera a little better. Practically everyone expressed interest in learning to take great action shots. Well, this lesson and understanding the focusing system of your camera are both critical first steps to getting there.

Thanks for reading if you get this far, and I look forward to seeing you practice these principles.

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Replies to This Discussion

wow. that's my favorite lens. Yeah, I don't have that camera but it's supposed to be pretty good. 

It's a great lens, but heavy. I just need to use it more. I did have it on my tripod the other night for shots out in the garage and it did fine. 

I tried it out on my Nikon and it took wonderful images, great bokeh. But it was too heavy for me.
Beautiful.

Thanks, Anne!

This is nice. what were your settings? (focal length, stop)I would see if you can get a little more shallow DOF.  See what is going on with your camera or your focusing technique. I don't know. It's impossible for me to teach everyone with different cameras on how to get better focus for a specific model.

Have you done stationery tests on a tripod to check the focus?

Crap...I forgot to post that like you told us. Sorry. I will get it figured out about my camera when I am done babysitting. Later this week, I have to switch to French Bulldogs :(

Focal length...200 mm, F 2.8, ISO 1250, 1/640. My shutter speed was high because the dogs were playing and I was hoping to get an action shot. The lens only goes to 2.8, so that is as shallow as I can go. 

So obviously to get the background more blurry you need to get closer to your dog and/or move farther from the background. It's still a nice image!

I like it Laurie.  I don't know anything about Canon so can't help you there.  

More Luca

300mm f/5.6 for both

wow F. This is a whole new look for you and I like it! I really like close ups of faces filled with expression and personality. The background blur and tones are beautiful.

I would probably try backing up about a foot or two and get just a little more in the frame. Specifically on the bottom. I can't remember what camera you have but you can move your focus point so it doesn't have to be in the center.

Can I see the unedited version? I think your attempt to darken the top of Luca's head doesn't look right. I wonder if it is necessary or if there is a better way to do it since I can see there is detail there.

A wow! I do usually go for greater depth of field, an old habit from days when everything was manual and we counted shots : ) Here are the jpegs of the raw files unedited by me. I agree the second shot has too much darkening on Luca's head. But I worry you will say things are blown out : )

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