<<< o >>>Jason #1 14 comments + add yours

One of the things I stress when I'm teaching photography is that you should always consider the point-of-view from which you shoot, as an unusual angle or perspective can often make the difference between a mediocre shot and a great one. As such I had Jason spend quite a bit of time crawling around the beach looking for things to shoot during his recent one-to-one training. I can't quite remember what he was shooting at this point – it may have been a Pepsi can, a shot of which I'll blog next week – but, whatever it was, I thought I'd take a few pictures of him while he covered himself in sand.

As you can see though, if you take a look at the original, I didn't get it quite right: the depth of field was too large. This was a silly mistake – I should have been shooting at around f/2.8 – but grabbed the shot without giving it much thought.

Anyway, I took a look at this one not long after I got back from the UK and decided not to work on it: it was just too messy. A couple of days ago though I was looking at a Photoshop plugin review site. One of the featured plugins was Alien Skin's Bokeh. I'm not usually a big fan of plugins, especially those that simply replicate functionality that is already available in Photoshop, but Bokeh allows you to do something that's almost impossible to do in Photoshop alone: i.e. it allows you to decrease the apparent depth of field without introducing any obvious processing artefacts (most noticeably halos around the in-focus elements).

I'll post a more detailed review at some point, as I suspect that this is definitely a plugin I'll use again, but for the time being I'd definitely suggest downloading the demo version and trying it out for yourself.

focal length
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter
plugins (etc)
12.04pm on 10/4/10
Canon 5D Mark II
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM
aperture priority
3x2 + people [portraiture] + beachcombing + show the original
comment by Chris at 06:00 AM (GMT) on 4 May, 2010

Thanks Dave, I was actually reading about that plugin a few weeks ago and was uncertain about it. I was going to try the free demo but never got around to do so. Thanks for sharing and reminding me about it. What you have done to this image, could it been possible to achieve the same result using a gaussian blur effect in combination of some kind of gradient masking?

comment by djn1 at 06:09 AM (GMT) on 4 May, 2010

Chris: the problem with trying to use Gaussian Blur, or other blur methods in Photoshop, is that the elements that you want to keep sharp will blurred into the background too. So, even if you use a mask, you can often end up with halos around the objects/elements you want to keep sharp. Bokeh allows you protect particular areas of an image from being blurred: in this instance, Jason's right shoe.

comment by rady at 06:54 AM (GMT) on 4 May, 2010

It's looking great, i'll definitely give this plugin a try! Thanks for the tip.

comment by Matteo at 07:20 AM (GMT) on 4 May, 2010

I think the greatest thing of this shot is the change you (the spectator) do switching from original to post-processed version. I found myself looking everywhere in the photo with the original, while falling fast to the in-focus shoe and there remaining with the post-process. Another great thing you (David) teach: separate background from subject.

comment by Carlos garcia at 10:45 AM (GMT) on 4 May, 2010

As they walked toward the giant, one Lillipution said to the other, "I insist that, from now on, we change our approach. Honestly!"

comment by Nalin Harsha at 12:49 PM (GMT) on 4 May, 2010

Excellent set of images you have. so much impressions on this image. excellent work. thanks for sharing the tips.

comment by Dan Kaufman at 01:17 PM (GMT) on 4 May, 2010

hmm...this Alien Skin certainly seems to bokeh its job. I do though agree with your general comment on "plugins", but here is obviously a case where it's not a bad idea.

Is there that much depth difference between the left and right shoes? I keep wondering if the other shoe shouldn't have a bit more of its original focus.

comment by djn1 at 01:24 PM (GMT) on 4 May, 2010

Dan: I did think about moderating the effect on his left shoe, but decided I'd leave this one as a fairly extreme example. I'll probably be a bit more subtle next time.

comment by Daniel Von Fange at 01:33 AM (GMT) on 5 May, 2010

Actually, the lens blur tool in photoshop will do haloless bokeh when you tell it to pick up depth information from a layer mask or a channel.

comment by Philip Jensen at 07:48 AM (GMT) on 5 May, 2010

I really like the result, but I can't seem to agree with Daniel. If you make a new layer with a layer mask, mask out the right shoe, go to Lens Blur and select "layer mask", then the result would indeed make me happy.

Nevertheless, really beautiful shot.

comment by Jason at 01:29 PM (GMT) on 5 May, 2010

Thanks David, definitely the best picture I have seen of me :) I never guessed it was anything other than aperture that created this effect until I read you comments. Great job!

comment by djn1 at 05:20 AM (GMT) on 6 May, 2010

Daniel/Philip: OK, I'll give the Lens Blur filter another lookt.

Jason: I'm glad you like it :-)

comment by Mohammed Quzoq at 07:03 AM (GMT) on 6 May, 2010

Thx David what a shot. Love it

comment by crash at 12:13 PM (GMT) on 7 May, 2010

love the focus .... looks like a toy!