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Old Sep 17, 2012, 2:22 PM   #1
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Default Understanding distance and DOF to make your camera work for you.

When I first got my DSLR a couple of years ago I came across this link. (You really do need the manual after this)
At the time I thought it was a toy/gimmick and no real purpose.
Now that I have been shooting for awhile I thought I would share my insight to photography using the simulator.


There are three things you want to pay attention to,
The size of the orange play slide in relation to the girl.
The focus of the slide.
The motion blur of the pinwheel.

First check the manual button then slide distance and focal length all the way to the left.

You will see a nice shot with everything in focus, notice that the slide is just a little smaller than the girl.

Now move the distance slider all the way to the right which simulates moving closer to the subject.
Notice the perspective size of the slide compared to the girl as you slide the slider. Also notice what happens to the focus on the slide.

Rule 1. Distance in relation to subject and background. The closer you are to the subject, the background will be smaller and out of focus.

Now set your distance back out to the left at ten feet.
Then zoom in with the focal length and the play set slide becomes much more significant.
Snap the photo and you will notice that your image is significantly sharper than live view. (well get to that later)

example; Here we have a landmark called the pier and has a long walkway to get to the actual pier building. If I were to take a tourist picture I would get up close and get the shot. Problem is that you get two smiling faces with a tiny pier in the distance.

If you back up and then zoom in on the subject, The pier itself becomes larger in perspective to the subject and makes a more interesting backdrop.

Ok back to the camera simulator.

We want the play set to be in focus because that is our landmark that we want to stand out.

During these next steps note that the exposure meter is in the center, indicating a correct exposure. It will change as you change your aperture and shutter speed.

Now set aperture to F14 and shutter to 1/40 and click the shot.
Now the entire image is sharp but you are starting to get camera blur from the slow shutter speed. Also notice how blurred out the pinwheel is.

What did we just do? The higher the F stop (F14 from F8) lets less light in (This is how much of your image will be in focus) so the shutter needs to stay open longer to get everything in focus.

To see the opposite effect, set aperture to F2.9 and shutter to 1/1000. Notice how sharp the pin wheel is and how blurry the background is.

Now this is what separates a point and shooter from a DSLR user. You now have to make a decision, Do You Want a blurry background or do you risk camera shake. or compromise and take what you can.

You have one more trick up your sleeve and that is your ISO or "film sensitivity".
The higher the ISO the more sensitive your camera is to light that is let in.

Slide the ISO slider to 800 and you will notice the exposure meter goes to overexposed.

Now slide aperture to F22 and shutter to 1/60 and take the shot.

There you have a great photo, landmark is in focus and you get slight motion blur on the pin wheel to give it the effect of spinning.

Lets say there is no landmark and the background is not something you really want in the photo.

Slide distance to 3 feet and any zoom you want.
Bring ISO down to 200.
Set aperture to F2.8 (The lower the F stop the more blur you will get in the background. FYI, if you left ISO at 800, you would have an overexposed shot, give it a try.).
set shutter to 1/1000 to get the correct exposure.
Click the picture.
The background is now small, insignificant and there goes the trash bins and mail boxes in the background.

I hope this explains things in a way that the owners manual can't.
In this example I am going from one extreme to another and there is a lot of middle ground that you can play in.

I normally shoot in aperture priority so all I have to do is tell the camera how much I want in focus and let the camera figure out the exposure.

Next step, check the box on aperture priority and let shutter speed be controlled by the camera. Go through the previous steps but ignore the shutter settings and go by aperture settings.

For this exercise I want to point out each feature and how they interact.

Manual mode is really a simple set of adjustments and aperture priority is a no brainer.

Nikon D5000 with Kit lenses, 18-55 55-200
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Old Sep 19, 2012, 8:31 AM   #2
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thats quite good
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Old Sep 19, 2012, 1:29 PM   #3
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Very good simulator, and instructional tool. It gives the necessary visual feedback without needing a camera. I will definitely keep it in mind for those times I'm asked.

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