Experimenting with Depth of Field: Interactive Scene of Towering Bamboo
desktop background image of towering bamboo, at the Gioji Temple (祇王寺), Kyoto Japan -- This Seems Like About the Right Balance between foreground sharpness and background blur at the Gioji Temple (祇王寺), Kyoto Japan -- Gioji Temple (祇王寺) -- Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/320 sec, f/5, ISO 3200 — map & image datanearby photos
This Seems Like About the Right Balance
between foreground sharpness and background blur
at the Gioji Temple (祇王寺), Kyoto Japan
Desktop-Background Versions
1280×800  ·  1680×1050  ·  1920×1200  ·  2560×1600  ·  2880×1800

I play and experiment a lot when I'm out with the camera, slowly trying to add bits of experience of what “works” and what doesn't. The photo above, from a trip a year ago to one of my favorite hidden gems of Kyoto, the Gioji Temple, is one of a series of five shots that I took at different apertures, to get different levels of blur in the background.

I often know exactly what I want in a result and how to get it, but sometimes I just can't predict what aperture will give a pleasing result, so I do this kind “same scene, different aperture” series fairly often.

Along these lines, I shared pairs of photos at different apertures last year in “Little Orange Mushrooms and Depth-of-Field Comparisons”, but because I didn't use a tripod, the jumpiness between the images of a pair is a little disconcerting.

I've finally figured out a way to automatically align the images in a series like this, so I'd like to show the five-photo series from which the shot above is taken. Sweep your mouse from side-to-side to see the aperture change:

Animatable Scene (5 frames) — slowly sweep mouse from side to side to view effect
At an Aperture of f/1.4

You can see quite a change in depth, and in the natural vignetting of the lens. Which one, if any, appeals to you most?

(I wish the composition were better, but I was just taking these as a depth-of-field test, so I didn't plan on sharing them.)

The interactive display above uses the same underlying technology as my wigglegrams (most recently seen on “Kyoto’s Amazing Haradanien Garden, Part 4”), repurposed to show a different kind of depth. I like the effect, though it would be better if I were to use a tripod instead of software to stabilize the sequence. I wish I weren't so lazy.

I guess I was in quite the “experimentation” mood that day, because other posts from the outing include the aperture-pair little orange mushrooms post mentioned above, and “Polarizer Examples With the Moss and Ferns”, also showing educational pairs of photos.

It was a great visit resulting in many posts, starting with “Rich Colors: A Good Start to an Amazing Day in Kyoto” and “Tag Along With Me on a Photo Shoot at Kyoto’s Gioji Temple”. As always, the “nearby photos” link under most photos shows you photos and articles from nearby, from the same visit and from other visits throughout the seasons.

Comments so far....

“I’ve finally figured out a way to automatically align the images in a series…”. Perhaps the explanation of the method was “too large to fit in the margin.” Looking forward to it though.

It’s a whole long blog post on its own, which I don’t have the energy to write (despite the desire). Hopefully once Lightroom 5 stuff settles down…. —Jeffrey

— comment by Andy on June 12th, 2013 at 9:46pm JST (1 year, 2 months ago) comment permalink

I like the f/2 the most, it not so extremly busy at the top of the trees but u still have a large chunk of the trunk sharp, as opposed to the f/1.4 which is really too much for my liking. F/5 is also nice… I like how much of the trunk is sharp, but it get’s really noise up there… everything above F/5 is a bit boring for my liking :)

— comment by Arian on June 13th, 2013 at 6:38pm JST (1 year, 2 months ago) comment permalink

I’m a “wide-open” addicted and I must admit that most of the time is not the right choice. I agree with you on f/5 being just right for this picture.

I don’t know whether it works with pictures having different DoF, probably not, but you might give this script a try


Kind regards,

— comment by Gianluca on June 16th, 2013 at 4:08am JST (1 year, 1 month ago) comment permalink
Leave a comment...

All comments are invisible to others until Jeffrey approves them.

Please mention what part of the world you're writing from, if you don't mind. It's always interesting to see where people are visiting from.

More or less plain text — see below for allowed markup

You can use the following tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Subscribe without commenting