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Please, Step in Front of My Lens



Believe it or not, I have seen a large number of well-meaning New Yorkers who try not to step into a photographer's photo. They'll stop dead in their tracks, and politely wait for the person to capture their image before continuing along. I commend these fine citizens for their courtesy, but I do have a somewhat odd request. Please, feel free to step in front of my lens. Yes, I really said that. Allow me to explain.



When someone stands in front of your subject, it unlocks a rich world of compositional layers. This added depth leads the viewer's eye from the foreground through the middle of the scene, all the way to the background. I believe the relationship between these different aspects of a photo can work together to tell a story.



While some of these moments are created through what Bob Ross referred to as "happy accidents", the observant photographer can work to knowingly incorporate this concept into their repertoire. As you'll see, it can even be used to eliminate distracting elements and focus attention on your subject.



As for the technical details, the level of blurring is dependent on three things;

A wide aperture like f2.8, or f4 to create a very shallow depth of field.

The distance between your lens, and the subject you're trying to blur.  The nearer they are, the softer they'll be. This is a result of the lenses minimum focusing distance. For example, with a Canon 70-200mm lens, I need to be at least 4.9 feet away in order to achieve focus. Anything closer than that minimum distance will be out of focus.

A telephoto lens like a 70-200mm will enhance this effect.



The next time someone steps in front of your lens, don't let off your shutter button. Keep shooting, and use their presence to create a unique image.



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Reader Comments (3)

I love these! this framing people between objects or other defocused people is a great idea! i dont get much opportunity to try stuff like this in my dallas corporate work, and i didnt learn it at art center in l.a. either. just love it! i'm putting it in my arsenal right away.
This article is great ! What an inspiration for this holiday season. I'll try this for sure.
December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBernard Gagnon
One of the joys of photography is that there really are no rules. That said, I have to say I did not like these photos and found the persons stepping in front of the lens to be very distracting. To each his/her own, which as I said is one of the joys of photography. One man's, or woman's, prized photo is someone else's throw away.... For me, I much prefer unobstructed views of my photo subjects.
December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBob Dumon
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