Recently, I taught a one-to-one lesson in person with one of my Learning Journey students and we came across an interesting situation.
To note, I don’t ever use my zoom lens. I have one, but I don’t use it. But this student was using a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens – super common amongst pet photographers!
She had the lens zoomed in to 135-200mm which would also be my recommendation, and had the lens on a crop-factor body. So… suddenly, at 200mm, we have a huge amount of compression, and cropping of the scene.
Now, I’m a BIG fan of compression… but in these woods we’d found a couple of beautiful backlit areas with sparkly bokeh, and while we could get really cool rimlight around Journey, we were missing out on the charm of the location because of the compression of the scene! eg., We were only able to see a really tiny amount of the background because of how much it was ‘pulled toward us’.
But of course… we didn’t want to loose that narrow depth of field by simply zooming out to get more of the scene in in order to see the bokeh. If we did, all the leaves, grasses, and stuff in the foreground and background would be more in-focus, with more detail. Not what we necessarily want!
So I suggested to this student that she play with depth of field here.
What we did:
I suggested my student zoom her lens OUT. Maybe all the way…. and then move HERSELF toward Journey. By zooming OUT, we have less compression, and more of the scene/background in the photo… but by moving CLOSE to Journey, we narrow up the depth of field again!
Below are the two different photos we got. Journey hasn’t moved, but the student has zoomed out and physically moved herself forward in the 2nd photo.
So this is just a reminder that if you are using a zoom lens, that although zooming all the way in gives you beautiful, soft backgrounds, and lovely compression, you can play with the zoom length and how close you are to the dog to include more of the scene in, if it’s beneficial to do so.
Don’t feel like you always HAVE to be zoomed in – or you might be missing some pretty bokeh oportunities.