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Thread: Impression of Depth and how to get it?

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    xpatUSA's Avatar
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    Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    I believe there is a correlation between Depth of Field and how to make an object stand out in a scene. I notice in flower shots there is a tendency by some (including myself) to make the whole flower as sharp as possible and the background considerably blurred. On the other hand, there appears to be tendency to make a scene such a garden with wall shot equally sharp including the obligatory gnome. My thought is that if an object had a sharp area at the front and had a very gradual increase in blur toward the back it would have more Impression of Depth than the aforementioned types of shots.

    I have a birdhouse outside so I thought would try a few shots. As is my style, the shots are just to make the point as to the best DOF - not to impress y'all with my hand-holding skill, color accuracy, composition, bokeh, blah-di-blah . .

    Here are three pics, which one has the most realistic impression of depth, in your opinion?

    Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    Impression of Depth and how to get it?

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    Re: Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    I don't know. They all cue depth pretty equally to me, although the 2nd and 3rd might feel like there's slightly more depth than the 1st shallow DoF shot.

    I've probably been in too many Fred Miranda board discussions about the Zeiss "3-d pop", but for me, the answer to how to get the impression of depth is different from yours, and easier in practice. I just shoot with a Zeiss Planar 100/2. The isolation of subject tends to happen more easily, and is not absolutely linked to the DoF covering only one object in the scene.

    Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    The explanation I've read is that Zeiss glass has high "microcontrast" to it, and the transitions from in-focus to out-of-focus areas are more abrupt, and that the brain picks up on the microcontrast as an obvious depth cue. Whether that's true or just Zeiss owners blowing smoke, who knows. But to me, a lot of the feel of depth does come from lens microcontrast, as well as DoF. YMMV.
    Last edited by inkista; 28th September 2013 at 06:42 PM.

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    Re: Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    One man's opinion, reviews and bokeh review...http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2010/02/11/what-is-bokeh/
    Could not argue with Kathy's comments. Basically, ya gotta pay for it.

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    Quote Originally Posted by xpatUSA View Post
    I believe there is a correlation between Depth of Field and how to make an object stand out in a scene. . . .My thought is that if an object had a sharp area at the front and had a very gradual increase in blur toward the back it would have more Impression of Depth than the aforementioned types of shots.
    I wrote on another thread that 'Separation' is a multi-facetted animal, scene dependent but NOT dependent upon one single constituent.

    Similarly, for the creating the impression of realistic depth - I do not think that is a good idea to have any one formula or technique as it too is multi-facetted and also scene dependent.

    ***

    Your questions, choosing between the three Bird-houses:

    For my eye it is the second (middle one) that has the most "realistic" depth within the scene

    The middle image also for my eye's first glance provides the best impression of depth of the bird house itself - but that majorly has to do with the lighting, exposure and colour and hues exhibited in the imaging of the wood of the structure, rather than any the difference in the Depth of Field between the three images.


    ***

    'Depth' in an overall image; 'Depth' of a Subject within an image; 'Subject Separation' in an image and also the 'Depth of Field' of an image . . . are usually all linked - but are different topics.


    WW

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    Re: Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    Quote Originally Posted by xpatUSA View Post
    I believe there is a correlation between Depth of Field and how to make an object stand out in a scene. I notice in flower shots there is a tendency by some (including myself) to make the whole flower as sharp as possible and the background considerably blurred. On the other hand, there appears to be tendency to make a scene such a garden with wall shot equally sharp including the obligatory gnome. My thought is that if an object had a sharp area at the front and had a very gradual increase in blur toward the back it would have more Impression of Depth than the aforementioned types of shots.

    I have a birdhouse outside so I thought would try a few shots. As is my style, the shots are just to make the point as to the best DOF - not to impress y'all with my hand-holding skill, color accuracy, composition, bokeh, blah-di-blah . .

    Here are three pics, which one has the most realistic impression of depth, in your opinion?

    Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    Impression of Depth and how to get it?
    The second image.

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    Re: Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    Thinking out loud - or rather in print - and apologies if I use the wrong terms, but I will express my thoughts as best I can:

    I wonder if the depth of field effect (i.e. an out-of-focus background) - has more to do with concentrating the mind on the intended subject of a photo, rather than giving the impression of depth. When our eyes move to different parts of a scene, we cannot stop them focusing, so that, whichever part we look at, we will perceive it as being sharp. On that basis, there is only a slight difference in the three images for the impression of the depth of the bird house, and the third image is the most realistic (although still not particularly effective*) for the depth in the whole scene.

    *For the scene as a whole in #3, there are perhaps two factors that are not helping the realistic portrayal of depth, and perhaps both have something to do with perspective? 1. The choice of focal length has made the leaves/bushes appear to be close to the birdhouse, whereas a shorter focal length might have apparently exaggerated the distance between them. 2. There are no converging lines of perspective anywhere in the background to indicate to our brains that there is any depth in the scene.

    Hope that makes some sense, even if the language is not quite correct.

    Philip

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    Re: Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    To add to what Philip stated...DOF is more of an artistic concept...something to be inserted into a painting/photograph to give the illusion of depth which doesn't exist with the eye.
    Where you to create an image with unlimited DOF, thereby mimicking our eyes, the image would overwhelm the eyes, darting all over the image, they would have nowhere to settle...bad thing.
    Light/dark, in/out of focus, color, and whatnot are merely tricks that we use to direct the eyes.

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    Re: Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    Re Philip and William Boyer’s comments . . .

    Firstly, I think that this is one of those threads where there is an overlap of the exact meaning of technical words to the use those same words to mean something less-technical and broader in meaning.

    That stated – and so first to address Depth of Field (Technical Meaning) as it relates to the human eye (just the eye):

    In normal daytime light levels the Depth of Field is quite large. If for example we are viewing (i.e. 'focused on') a Subject about 12 feet away from us and we are using BOTH eyes, we have the approximate equivalence of a 24mm lens on a 135 Format camera working at around F/4~5.6ish.

    But we don’t really have that same very large Depth of Field as that 24mm lens on a Canon 5D camera.

    The brain interprets the information and accordingly each eye (and both eyes working in unison) do NOT act as an extraordinary zoom lens making a 2 dimensional image: after the brain's 'intervention', each eye resolves only a small portion of the total scene at any one moment in time.

    Also, we resolve different levels of contrast, colour and detail, under different lighting conditions.

    So as we "finally see the scene" - it appears (to us) that the DoF is actually very shallow.

    ***

    On the other hand, IF we are using two eyes to look at a photograph: the Photograph is usually flat in front of us at the consistent viewing distance, so the eye/brain does not have to adjust its focus through a range of focusing distances, as it would have to view the scene in situ.


    So this is only one reason (but a big reason) why there are many (technical) factors that a Photographer must use, such as: DoF; Subject Separation; Bokeh; Tone; Lighting; Perspective; . . . etc. which will comprise the whole PHOTOGRAPH, to make a TWO DIMENSIONAL image to nuance and manipulate both the eyes and also the brain of the viewer.

    WW

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    Re: Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    as WW says there are many conditions at play in depth but the function of depth of field is indeed to pull our attention onto something. Human eye is naturally drawn to certain things, usually the sharpest detail and brightest regions in most photos. That's why I find the 3rd image has competition for my attention between background and birdhouse. We perceive local contrast more than global values so certain contrasts can have same effect. Stack these factors along with focal length to compress/extend perception of depth and you can really draw the eye in the way you imagine and wish to lead the viewer.

    Most artists understand these things very well and traditional art techniques and guidelines are handy thing to look at. Also the role on complimentary colours and so on and grading I found material from likes of Stu Maschwitz very helpful (he's more of a videographer but it still translates well) as you can fit things together nicely with balance but isolate things rather well at the same time

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    Re: Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Davey View Post
    . . . That's why I find the 3rd image has competition for my attention between background and birdhouse.
    That's a very interesting comment.

    Were you looking at each image separately, one at a time, switching between them - or were you looking at the three images all together - on a screen large enough to fit all three in it?

    WW

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    Re: Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    A lot of talk about DOF on the side here. It's my fault for using 'DOF' without really explaining it's use in the context of the OP too well. And of course, other factors are involved - such as getting too close to the subject and ending up with silly perspective or getting too far and ending up with a flat-looking image as I tried to show in the third image. Kathys image of the trees was a good example of using DOF to get a gradual blurring of each tree as they recede away from the camera. And that was what I was attempting with middle image of the birdhouse, just the slightest blurring from front to back to imitate the human view but without the subconcious scanning that we do. In that middle image, I would have preferred a less blurred background, similar to Kathys tree shot. In the first image I was trying to show excessive blur almost everywhere and in the last image I was trying to get the whole scene in good focus to deliberately look flat (I sharpened it quite a lot in post).

    So, a proper selection of f-number with the OP in mind, and of course the other factors mentioned by others, and you stand a good chance of some depth in the image. But if everything is sharp, a la point and shoot, the said depth might be somewhat elusive.

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    Re: Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    It depends on the nature and content of the image - sometimes everything being sharp contributes to the impression of depth. The two very different images below, which I shot at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire, both seem to me to show good depth but, of course, others might see them differently:

    In this one, the foreground building is called the Pavilion, which belongs to the Wrest Park Mansion House in the background:

    Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    The depth in the main subject, the Pavilion, is mainly due to the time of day creating the light and shade on the building. The depth in the scene is mainly due to both the perspective and the eyes being drawn through the scene via the people on the pathway to the Mansion House, then back to the Pavilion.

    This one shows the details carved above the front entrance to the Mansion House:

    Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    The depth of the structure of each figure is again mainly due to the light and shade from the angle of the sunlight. The depth, or in this case height, in the scene is due to the effects of both the light and the perspective.

    Just my opinions, of course.

    Philip

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    Re: Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    I would suggest that 'depth' has little to do with depth of field but rather the composition of the subjects within the frame. Depth of Field is a still photographers convention, obsession, whatever. The bird house is basically a very flat shot With cropping I think Kathy's first two shots could show depth very well but not that good as posted.
    You just do not need to have minimal DoF to show depth. I look for depth provoking compositions, corny as they can be, before pressing the trigger almost every time.

    This shot shows depth despite everything being sharp. One of the advantages of a bridge camera ... the user of longer lens have less Depth of Field so seem to be pre-occupied with it whereas I normally decide what I want to be the point of focus and ignore that the rest is soft.... not really in this shot which was the first close to hand.
    Impression of Depth and how to get it?
    and this
    Impression of Depth and how to get it?
    Last edited by jcuknz; 29th September 2013 at 06:57 AM.

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    Re: Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    In response to WW's question I quickly scanned all 3 together and then Middle mouse clicked to open each in separate tab. I kind of do this on autopilot when viewing images, just scan the ones I'm interested in then middle click to view in their own tab full screen. Sometimes I'll kill the menu/task bars if it's critical viewing so nothing but image (and black letterboxing for none 16:10 ratio). Some sites block right and middle clicks but there are ways around. I don't steal the images so have no prob doing it and various plugins help but most the big fish photographers allow opening straight up like that, also I use right click for quick exif viewer plugin (fxif) which isn't extensive but gives me roughly what I'm interested in, usually exposure time or focal length so I can add up how it was done, distance etc.

    Sorry for the misunderstanding xpat, now I see you meant in general not just DoF specific I'd say the biggest thing that adds depth and makes the largest footprint in stuff lacking or having depth is the light. I hate flat light. Lighting is everything; changing intensity, colour temp etc whatever it is can really carve up an image into the 3 ideal zones/layers in design/art/photo theory of foreground mid and background. The classic 3 layer approach is often textbook in landscapes I notice but portraits is often still there but arranged different into the 3 zones and not necessarily distance based.

    Eg. a lot of portraits I love from likes of Joey L have subject dead on exposure and maybe warmer, background 2/3 to 1 stop under the subject and maybe cooler to make up the 3rd zone. Depending on composition maybe throw in some more middle ground "counterweight" detail to balance against the subject such as Joeys shot here the lower right focus point (where Ro3 lines meet) of the horizonal support branch balances subject face on upper left focus point but doesn't out compete it. The fill only areas/shadow zones of subject also fit into mid zone. Get all 3 balanced and you have good background to subject balance as well as well balanced key to fill and further in the key areas good specular to diffuse specular amounts to accentuate shape and depth.

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    Re: Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    I'd say it is a combination of subject separation, DoF that extends just enough past the subject and micro-contrast. The last is mainly a lens characteristics.
    Image #1: (Sony NEX-3, Sony 135mm, f/4.5) The "pop" was my intention, complicated a bit by windy conditions as I did miss it a little at the top.
    Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    Image #2: (Sony A55, Sony 135mm, f/4.5)
    Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    Image #3: (Sony NEX-3, Zeiss 50mm Planar, f/2)
    Impression of Depth and how to get it?

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    Re: Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Davey View Post
    . . .I quickly scanned all 3 together and then Middle mouse clicked to open each in separate tab.
    Thanks for answering. I understand that your first viewing of any of the images was all three together.

    WW

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    Re: Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    To me it's a choice between 1 and 2, because 3 has such a large depth of field, I don't feel like I understand what the photographer wants me to focus on. 1 has narrower DoF such that the birdhouse is not completely in focus. If there were a bird on the "porch" in image 1, that might be exactly the right thing to do. But, 2 has the birdhouse in total focus. Finally one of the reasons I don't like 3 is that I presume the eye should focus on the bird house but the larger DoF makes everything in focus so that you "lose" the emphasis on the birdhouse that's present in 2.

    I recently had a similar problem with two pictures I entered in a local photo contest. I really wanted the focus to be on the turtles which is why pretty much all the twigs are out of focus. The first one is called "One Turtle, One Log" in which I missed on the twigs that are in the same plane as the turtle.. The second one is "Two Turtles, One Log" which I view as better for what I was trying to do. The second one is also two images stitched together (successfully, I think). Finally, I have reduced the size to about 1/4 or 1/3 their original size so that they'll fit into your monitors, assuming lots of notebooks out there! ;~)

    These images are: "Cookie Monster"

    Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    and: "Bert and Ernie"

    Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    FYI - All three turtles are called "red-eared sliders" because towards the top of the sides of each turtles head are their ears on which you can see the red streak. ;~) Once I became familiar with all the turtles, I gave them names (which are all what I'd consider gender neutral since I can't handle the turtles because they're in a National Park zone).

    Hope this helps.

    virginia

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    Re: Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    Push in close with a wide angle lens so that there is a degree of convergence to convey depth.

    Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    Impression of Depth and how to get it?

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    Re: Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    thing I've noticed on images like Colins is the vanishing point is very clear and leads into the frame not to the outsides of it, my eyes are pulled further and further into the frame and makes it feel deeper than a flat projection if that makes sense. Takes while to spot all lines in stuff and align them in a way where they all match the same vanishing point but I imagine it comes as second nature. It isn't to me yet and I'm more aware of the process but for most pros they do it now almost on autopilot naturally and spot converging lines/vanishing point in places where it's not always obvious.

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    Re: Impression of Depth and how to get it?

    To my mind, we are using one term, depth, in two different ways. The depth of a narrow dof shot is mostly a trick of perception: the mind attends to contrast which in such cases is the contrast of blur and detail that gives us a figure and its ground. A sharply focused subject against a smoothly blurred background gives an impression of depth but I think a better term is 3D separation. I see an object standing out against an indistinct background; that is attention created by a figure/ground relationship. There are going to be other factors that enhance or degrade the 3D quality besides the contrasting degrees of sharpness. Other types of contrast such tone, texture, etc. will play a role. The other kind of depth that is part of this dialogue is the depth exemplified in Colin's image with loads of dof. This type of depth is about the perceived distance in an image that can be enhanced by following certain rules, i.e., vanishing points. Often wide angle lenses are used to create this depth and foreground detail is frequently used as a common trick here. So, personally, I would call the latter depth and the former subject separation.

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