photographer by Michael Thompson wedding and portrait photography in Consett County Durham Tyneside in the North East of England

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photographer by Michael Thompson wedding and portrait photography in Consett County Durham Tyneside in the North East of England

Depth of Field
As something that has been part of photography since the beginning, depth of field
might be something new to you when working in 3D animation and imaging. Relatively
new to the 3D scene, depth of field was often not applied to rendered images but
has been rearing its head more recently in animated movies. Depth of field is one of the
most important aspects of photography. It is something you are familiar with, even if
you don’t know the term. Basically, depth of field is when objects in front of and
behind the photographic subject become out of focus. No matter what lens you’re
using, the lens can focus on only one set distance. Anything else out of that range will
be subject to an out-of-focus range, determined by the lens’s f-stop. Figure 2.13 shows
a digital photo with narrow, or shallow, depth of field. This shot was achieved by setting
the f-stop wide open (a large aperture) to f2.8. Figure 2.14 shows an image with a
slightly wider depth of field because the f-stop was set to f7.1. The lens was “opened
up” a bit. Figure 2.15 shows an image with a wide depth of field taken at f11. f11 is a
small apertureWith the three examples shown, you can see how changing the f-stop can greatly
affect the perceived focus—the depth of field of the image. Figure 2.15 showed yet
another situation where the camera position, in addition to the f-stop, plays a role in
the depth of field. This is called the focal length, and I will discuss it in a moment.
Depth of field is part of photography, but it’s not usually part of 3D imaging
and animation. As with most aspects of 3D, you, the artist, need to instruct the computer
to use depth of field. This is not something that’s applied automatically in any
application and, therefore, is not something most artists think about using. But you
should! You see, depth of field in 3D adds realism to your scenes, and when added
to an image that uses real-world lighting, reflections, and ray tracing, you’re on your
way to re-creating reality. Figure 2.16 shows a 3D image that uses a wide depth of
field. Figure 2.17 originally shown in Chapter 1 is a 3D image that uses a very narrow
depth of field.Focal Length and f-Stop
The focal length you choose in digital photography, as well as in your 3D application,
can have a dramatic affect on your final image. The focal length is the distance between
the front of your lens and the image focal plane, either film or the digital sensor. The
focal length of the lens is related to the focusing distance: longer focal lengths can focus
on, and even magnify, subjects that are farther away. As shown in Figure 2.15, moving
the camera away from the subject slightly to increase the focal length also increases the
depth of field. Figure 2.18 shows a photo using a severe wide-angle lens, with a wide
aperture. The result is that the boy and his mower appear strong and powerful. The
same shot if taken from above with less of a wide-angle lens would not have the same
impact.The f-stop of an exposure is the focal length of the lens divided by its diameter.
A good example of this is a 200mm lens set to f4. The lens diameter is 50mm—that is,
200mm divided by 50mm = 4. This is why the term f-stop is typically written as f4,
meaning “focal length over 4” or “focal length divided by 4.” You see, camera lenses
have a series of f-stops, and each one is a “half stop” greater than the previous, which
means each one lets in half as much light as the previous one. So, greater numbers in
the f-stop actually represent less light; f22 is a small opening in any lens, and f2 is
very large.
As you take photos, either for reference or fun, you might find yourself moving
around and changing positions in addition to adjusting the f-stops. Without knowing it,
you’re setting the focal length. So it goes without question that you should also perform
the same camera positioning in 3D. As you’ll see later in Chapter 4, “How to Shoot the
Shot,” you’ll incorporate focal length and depth of field in 3D applications.
When shooting, the first goal to establishing a good focal length is to assess the
subject as well as its surroundings. If you’re shooting portraits, you need to be careful
not to shoot too wide because you’ll start to see some distortion. However, this exaggerated
look that comes with wide-angle lenses might be something you’re after, both
in digital photography and in 3D. Figure 2.19 shows a 3D scene with a 14mm lens.
Notice how the body appears dwarfed by the head? You can apply this exaggeration
in most 3D programs as a creative effect.

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