Art and Photography

noob help - portrait shot

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  • Feb 6th, 2010 5:22 pm
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[OP]
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Jun 8, 2008
241 posts
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noob help - portrait shot

Hey everyone, I recently picked up a canon xsi with kit lens because photography seems to pair well with my other hobby (watches). I love the challenge the high learning curve provides and can definately see this being a passion. At some point I do plan on a nice macro lens, but for now, the basics. I figured I would try a "portrait" shot first as it seems basic enough! So I went into one of the creative modes (sorry the name alludes me, but its the one where shutter speed is auto and you can vary apeture) and I lowered the appeture to lowest to allow for wide lens opening like I read. I used auto focus and used the center AF point on my target and shot. The result is the target definately looks more clear than the background, but the background does not have that cool blur. Does anyone have any pointers on how I can master this essential shot?
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Dec 3, 2004
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Not close enough to the subject for an 18-55mm lens. If you're zooming your aperture on that lens maxes out at 5.6, you need a bigger aperture to better create the background blur effect - not to say 5.6 isn't enough to blur the background, perhaps you're not composing it right..

Now before you buy a new lens, learn with what you have - including terminology.

Don't be one of those fools who rushes into a new lens without knowing their camera and completely knows the limitations a kit lens carries. Learn with what you have, do a little more reading. Search these forums, your thread is not new as there has been hundreds of other newcomers asking the same similar questions.

Good luck and have fun!
[OP]
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Jun 8, 2008
241 posts
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thanks matt

i got 3 books currently and another 3 on the way!

your right the largest available was 5.6.

maybe it is a composition issue if your telling me the 18-55 SHOULD be able to take the shot. the subject is a mere 3 metres away from the background, could that be a reason? is there a ideal distance away that i should be from the subject as well?
Member
Oct 12, 2004
232 posts
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Toronto
Try this:

Zoom into 55mm, set your aperture to f/5.6 and get as close as you can to the subject while still being able to focus (minimum focus distance). Make sure your background is a good distance away from your subject. Take your shot. This is the best "blurred background" effect your lens can do.
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kha_ wrote:
Feb 5th, 2010 2:00 am
thanks matt

i got 3 books currently and another 3 on the way!

your right the largest available was 5.6.

maybe it is a composition issue if your telling me the 18-55 SHOULD be able to take the shot. the subject is a mere 3 metres away from the background, could that be a reason? is there a ideal distance away that i should be from the subject as well?
Np!

Anyway...

3 metres is still pretty far for an 18-55, move closer to within a metre or so, you'll immediately notice a difference. And like someone here said, move said subject farther away from the background also helps.

What you can do to practice is take pics of an abstract subject at the nominal distance of 30mm - 55mm (I say nominal cuz at 18mm the pin cushion effect comes into play), the MFD (Minimum Focusing Distance) for 18-55 is 25cm, which is less than a foot. Step back from subject until background is no longer blurred to figure the focal length where depth of field is not so shallow anymore.

Later after you have learned the limitations, and if you have $100 to spare, get a Canon 50mm F1.8 to further educate yourself in DOF (Depth of Field). Since the 50mm F1.8 is an EF mount, it will become 80mm on your 1.6x cropped sensor.. Max aperture is 1.8, this will allow you to take extremely shallow depth of field photos, and esp. works well in low light.
[OP]
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Jun 8, 2008
241 posts
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i will try all suggestions tomorrow and get back to you guys with results and maybe even a photo!

a thought has crossed my mind though in that maybe i should return my XSi and downgrade to a used XS and use my savings to invest in a 2nd lens

after the 18-55, whats the next logical step that MOST people will take lens wise?

i cant afford a dedicated macro quite yet, i would say my budget to be around $300 for a 2nd lens if i downgrade bodies.
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Jul 1, 2009
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kha_ wrote:
Feb 5th, 2010 2:00 am
thanks matt

i got 3 books currently and another 3 on the way!

your right the largest available was 5.6.

maybe it is a composition issue if your telling me the 18-55 SHOULD be able to take the shot. the subject is a mere 3 metres away from the background, could that be a reason? is there a ideal distance away that i should be from the subject as well?

largest ap should be F4 on the lens, smallest with it hitting F5.6
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don't bother buying books.. just go to your library and read or even look up stuff on the internet.

edit: op what camera are you using, maybe we can suggest some lenses for your purpose.
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faken wrote:
Feb 5th, 2010 8:08 am
don't bother buying books.. Just go to your library and read or even look up stuff on the internet.
+1
faken wrote:
Feb 5th, 2010 8:08 am
edit: Op what camera are you using, maybe we can suggest some lenses for your purpose.
kha_ wrote:
Feb 5th, 2010 12:57 am
hey everyone, i recently picked up a canon xsi with kit lens
[OP]
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Jun 8, 2008
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quick post before i head into the office

books are all from the public library friends
my money is better spent on watches and photo gear dont worry ^_^

How do I get F4? I was only able to get F5.6 like Matt confirmed?
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kha_ wrote:
Feb 5th, 2010 11:46 am
quick post before i head into the office

books are all from the public library friends
my money is better spent on watches and photo gear dont worry ^_^

How do I get F4? I was only able to get F5.6 like Matt confirmed?
Zoom out, go to a wider focal length... the kit lens is f5.6 at 55mm (fully zoomed in)... looks like you will have to be at 28 mm focal length or wider to use f4 aperture or above...

Heh... you'll find out sooner enough why constant aperture zoom lenses are so much more expensive then variable aperture ones ;)
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kha_ wrote:
Feb 5th, 2010 3:27 am
after the 18-55, whats the next logical step that MOST people will take lens wise?

i cant afford a dedicated macro quite yet, i would say my budget to be around $300 for a 2nd lens if i downgrade bodies.

Logically, it's either the Canon 50mm F/1.8 for $100, or the Canon 55-250 F/4-5.6 IS lens for $250 used.

You don't need a dedicated macro yet.
You need to first understand what a dedicated macro lens does, and what 1:1 scale means in photography.

The way I see it now is your definition of macro is getting close up to the subject, to get a picture of all it's fine details.

Your 18-55 can get very close already. It's pretty "macro", to someone who doesn't know what the term true macro is yet.
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