Photos, Stories and Scrapbooking

Tag: compression

Inspired by a Photograph

One reason I continue to work on my photography is because what I learn about photography inspires me as I create artsy scrapbook pages. I don’t know if you read the post about my fascination with using aperture and compression to create blurred backgrounds, but the photograph on the left in which the ivy is in focus and the brick background blurred inspired the photo layering on this artsy page.


To create my background, I placed solid paper 6 above solid paper 3 from ArtPlay Palette Portiere and changed the blend mode to multiply at 100%. At the top right, I blended another photo of bricks that I shot into the paper with a layer mask. There is also a brush stamped on a new layer above all the paper layers.



Next, I blended the photo into the background with a layer mask. I stamped a brush from ArtPlay Palette Portiere on the lower right corner. Along the edge of the blended background photo, I stamped one of the images from New Orleans No. 1 in a  colored to match the bricks. I changed the blend mode, reduced the opacity and gave it a slight gaussian blur.


Below the the focal photo, I brought in all of the layers of Artsy Transfers Portiere 3. I turned off two art strokes, recolored the green stain and added a layer mask to the tape.




At this point, to create more interest and 2016-03-22_TuckedLeaves_4depth, I brought in the photo of the ivy. I duplicated the photo. To extract, I began with the magic wand tool, eliminating as much of the background as possible. Once I had eliminated what I could with that tool, I used that copy to create a layer mask for the original photo. With a small round brush, I refined my mask. Then I gave the leaves a shadow.

To finish my layout, I duplicated the ivy, rotated that copy and placed part of it on the right with a button to tack it down, title, date and place. I could have blurred the background photo more, but I didn’t want to lose the detail of the statue; instead I wanted the ivy to emphasize the depth in the corner where I found the statue and to add to the interest of my page. The idea of the ivy hanging in front of the came from a photo. How does your own photography inspire your art?





Do You Love Blurred Backgrounds?

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I would say that about ninety percent of the time, I photograph using aperture priority. Aperture refers to how wide the camera lens opening is set. It really is easier for me to capture kids in changing light with a camera set on aperture priority. I have an exposure dial on top of my camera that makes adjustments faster than adjusting the dials for manual mode. In addition, the eye instinctively focuses on what is sharpest in a photograph. When I use a wider aperture I can manipulate focus so that I get a sharp subject on a softly blurred background. To say that I love the look of a softly blurred background with a tack sharp subject would be an understatement. I have been fascinated with aperture since my first DSLR late in 2010. That’s also why I have used prime lenses almost exclusively up until recently; they have wider apertures. Prime lenses are the ones with the fixed focal length. Oh, I bought an 18-55mm f/2.8-4 zoom with my Fuji X-T1 two years ago. I have used it, but I never thought it was as good as my older macro lens for blurring backgrounds.

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However, last fall, following a discussion with Michael, a professional photographer teaching a class I am taking, I learned that there is something else that contributes to blurred backgrounds. It’s called compression. Basically it means that even if I am further from my subject with a longer focal length lens, the distance from my subject to the background doesn’t change. It flattens so that the background objects appear larger and closer to the subject. That creates some blur in the background.

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For the last four months, I’ve been trying to understand how this concept of compression works with an 18-135mm zoom lens, equivalent to a 27-206mm on a full frame camera, that I purchased on sale at my camera store. I have used it far more than any of my other lenses in the last four month, more than ninety percent of the time. However, for yesterday’s class, I decided to bring along my 60mm macro for comparison purposes. While my macro lens doesn’t focus as quickly, I didn’t think it would matter since the flowers I wanted to photograph weren’t going anywhere quickly. My macro lens does produce a beautiful bokeh with a wide aperture.

What’s my take away from experimenting in class? The zoom created some lovely blur when I zoomed out, especially when close to my subject. For the butterfly hanging from the ceiling above me, I used my zoom lens, 1/500 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400, 135mm. Did you notice the spider web on the antennae? Yet the background is softly blurred and the subject sharp at f/5.6. For the second photograph, I used my 60mm macro, 1/320 sec at f/8, ISO 1250. I wanted to see how much blur I would get up close with a narrower aperture. On the third photograph, I again zoomed out to 135mm, 1/320 sec at f/8, ISO 4000. Looking at the flower petals, I think I may have moved just a bit as I snapped the shutter button. (I’ll bring a monopod next time.)

For the images below, I used both my 60mm macro and 18-135mm zoom lenses. Can you tell which lens I used based on the backgrounds of these photographs?

The photograph of the orange orchids was taken with the zoom, 1/320 sec at f/5.6, ISO 2500, 88mm. The other four were taken with my macro. I still have a lot to learn, but I like the idea that I can blur my backgrounds by changing the aperture of a lens and by using the compression of longer lenses when zoomed out and/or close to a subject. I am going to tell Michael that I liked the Velvia film simulation mode too. The colors are more vivid than standard, but perfect for flowers I think. Yes, I still have lots to learn!!

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