Helpful Posts Helpful Posts:  0
Results 1 to 13 of 13

Thread: Snipe-shot Photography

  1. #1
    GreenTea's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Middle East
    Posts
    86

    Snipe-shot Photography

    I mostly like to take photos of people in the street. This is not the usual snapshot, but more like snipeshots, would say. Because I usually place myself in some corner and photograph passers-by, so I can control the lighting, etc. to a certain extent. The only difference is I don't get my subjects to pose for me.

    If you have any tips or can refer me to a thread or website dealing with this kind of Photography, I'd be grateful.

    My biggest problems are:

    1. I haven't been able to blur the background enough (see example attached).
    2. I'm using the Sport option in order to freeze the action (people walk fast around here!), but I wonder if there's something better.

    Thanks in advance!

    GT
    Last edited by GreenTea; 16th November 2008 at 06:13 PM. Reason: More accurate title to thread

  2. #2
    pixel pete's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Southern California, USA
    Posts
    191
    Real Name
    Peter Phun

    Re: Snipe-shot Photography

    Hi Green Tea,
    I'm going to take a stab at this. I'm assuming you're using a digital SLR. If that's the case, you should use your longest focal length lens. Longer focal length lenses blur backgrounds and foregrounds more than their shorter focal length counterparts.

    If you shoot a picture @ f2.8 with a 18mm and compared it to one taken with a 150 mm, you'll see this. If you don't have an aperture like f2.8 then try f5.6. The results should be dramatic enough to see.

    Naturally the tradeoff here is you trade conspicuousness for the depth of field control that you want. Expect to be discovered and be prepared to explain yourself.

    However, if you're using a point and shoot, then your best bet is to still use the longest focal length but choose aperture priority and set the f-stop manually to your largest opening, in this case, if you have f2.8 or even f2, then that's what you want.

    You may also want to consider pre-focusing manually at a spot where you think your subject will pass and set up the framing and composition before they enter the frame.

    If you do that, you can actually shoot the picture without holding your camera to your eye?

    Good luck!

  3. #3
    David's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Cheshire and Dumfries & Galloway
    Posts
    732
    Real Name
    David

    Re: Snipe-shot Photography

    Hi Green Tea I've tried sniping, bur with usually abysmal results. One thing I was going to attempt the next time was to use the continuous shooting mode on my Canon 40D. Otherwise I echo Pixel Pete re a long focal length.

    David

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Tokyo
    Posts
    22

    Re: Snipe-shot Photography

    Green Tea,

    I have to ask whether it's a good idea to be photographing muslim women without permission. I'm not sure which country you are in, but hopefully you know what you're doing taking photographs of obviously conservative women without their knowledge or permission.

    Moving on to your direct question, I agree with the recommendations by others that using a long lens and wide aperture will blur the background. However be careful that big lens gets attention, and people will become suspicious no matter how innocent your intent.

    Good luck, and be careful.

    Mike

  5. #5
    crisscross's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Herefordshire UK
    Posts
    816
    Real Name
    Chris

    Re: Snipe-shot Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by GreenTea View Post

    My biggest problems are:

    1. I haven't been able to blur the background enough (see example attached).


    GT
    You can do this after the event by masking out the figure that you do want in sharp focus and using either a 'noise reduction' sometimes called 'median' tool or more drastic 'gaussian blur'

    You can at the same time darken or lighten the background so it comes out just as it would have using f2.8 with an ideal background

    BTW I agree with others, you do need to be careful who you shoot without asking for both politeness and personal safety

  6. #6
    GreenTea's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Middle East
    Posts
    86

    Re: Snipe-shot Photography

    By long focal lens, do you mean a small f ? If so, I've tried it and there's no difference... I have a Fuji Finepix, DSLR (semi-automatic).

    (BTW, the only ones who mind being photographed are the Orthodox Jews on Shabat. I take loads of photos of them, but only from the back, which they don't mind. The Muslims are OK with it, and the Christian priests and nuns love being photographed.)

  7. #7
    pixel pete's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Southern California, USA
    Posts
    191
    Real Name
    Peter Phun

    Re: Snipe-shot Photography

    Hi GreenTea,
    By long focal length, I mean zoom in with your point-and-shoot camera. Note, using the zoom means you'll need good light to be able to shoot without camera shake. So if you're on Aperture priority, set your f-stop to the smallest # i.e. f4 or f2.8.

    Smallest number means "big" opening on the lens which blurs out the foreground and background--shallow depth of field or zone of sharpness.

    Good to know no one minds your picture-taking in the public streets wherever you are in the Middle East.

  8. #8
    GreenTea's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Middle East
    Posts
    86

    Re: Snipe-shot Photography

    It didn't work

    I focused on the sweater and wanted to blur the background with the stuffed animals. I used A priority, and f2.8. ISO 400.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  9. #9
    GreenTea's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Middle East
    Posts
    86

    Re: Snipe-shot Photography

    I did it!!! It worked!

    The trick is to stand far and zoom in.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
    New Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New South Wales - OZ
    Posts
    1

    Re: Snipe-shot Photography

    3 things affect Depth of Field (DOF):

    1. Focul length: the LONGER the focul length the small the DOF

    2. Aperture: the LARGER the aperture (1/f2.8, 1/f4 etc), the smaller the DOF

    3. Camera to Subject distance: the shorter the distance, the smaller the DOF

    . . .get any two of these and you can have a good blurred background.


    Lastly, when you're sniping, have you thought of panning with your subject; this
    would also give you 'motion blur' in the background....!

    Later
    T

  11. #11
    GreenTea's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Middle East
    Posts
    86

    Re: Snipe-shot Photography

    [QUOTE=tam;3320]have you thought of panning with your subject; this
    would also give you 'motion blur' in the background....!

    What is panning with your subject?

  12. #12

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    17,662
    Real Name
    Have a guess :)

    Re: Snipe-shot Photography

    Longer focal lengths mean you have to be further away from your subject if you want to get the same field of view - and unfortunately the two cancel each other out. And to make matters worse, longer lenses compress depth perception so you can end up with flat looking scenes (ie ears may appear to be on the same plane as noses), and you get poor background seperation.

    Panning the camera can be effective to blur the background - but for people walking, arm and leg movements (especially at the extremeties) will probably give you motion blur. Great for cars, not as effective for people.

    Best option if available is simply to use a wider aperture (ie less than 2.8 on a normal length lens), or to try and compose the shot where there is as much distance between subject and background as possible. I've attached an image of my eldest daughter, shot with an 85mm lens at F1.2 to give you an example of how a wide aperture totally nukes the background (sorry it's a bit grainy - shot at ISO 3200, with no NR).

    Hope this helps,

    Cheers
    Attached Images Attached Images

  13. #13
    Davey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    530

    Re: Snipe-shot Photography

    Unsure if it's of any use but you can get a pretty good shallow DOF that looks natural in post processing but not with blur tools which are good but not great, edges can bleed on hard edge masks and not transition sharp enough to give correct look on feathered ones and a load of other problems. Worked for me so might work for you. Probably a much better way to do this but here goes...

    I use a cheap compact so cannot get good shallow DOF, max ap is 5.2 and small sensor means without larger distance between subject and background there isn't much to throw the background really out of focus whilst keeping subject sharp. Even focusing closer so the background was out more and subject didn't lose much sharpness wasn't ideal. I wanted a photo recently that made me miss my old tradtional SLR because it was in an average size room and the subject and background couldn't be separated more (short of knocking half my wall out which landlords don't tend to appreciate) and I wanted the background blitzing. Something I couldn't do restricted by space, sensor and lack of lens change option.

    So I ended up taking 3 pictures in manual focus. 1st Subject sharp, large aperature all as above to try get good shallow DOF and keep subject as sharp as possible. 2nd still manual focus so unfocused enough to make it look pretty out (not acceptable or fixable but certainly not destroyed detail). And 3rd was way out of focus, a hazy soup of coloured blurs. Then I assembled in 1 image as 3 layers PShop (I use that and gimp bust most packages will do this), basically just stacked one on top of the other least focused on bottom keeping images aligned. Mask off subject and invert so I don't touch subject.

    Then apply layer mask and paint on this with black brush (low opacity), also used black-white gradient tool (horizontal) for bits. Just did selectively to make the regions that I would expect to be out of focus blurry, furthest points I kept solid black and subject white and then gradual light/mid grey to black as distance increased. Floor is easy just white to black gradient. Also can paint on mask in white to unblur stuff. When looks right merge down, apply new layer mask again, again ignoring subject and sharp regions at same distance as them. Then paint on mask again, this is more blurry so mainly only went solid black on furthest points like back wall and the like. Went pretty dark on some of distant features. Flattened image and minor touches as per usual and looked better than blur masks, and was quicker. If you could get 2 shots, 1 in focus and 1 out that would work. Alignment need not be perfect on the out of focus image as it doesn't need to match like stitching pics together does, just get it close or tripod when possible. The image above would be easier since you ccould get the background when subject has gone. Hope this could be of use to you.
    Last edited by Davey; 23rd December 2008 at 11:58 PM.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •