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Is it Better to Be Far Away or Close Up?

Continuing on with my theme for this week about depth of field, is it better to be physically close to your subject to maximize the impact of the shallow depth of field, the subject and the distance between your subject and the background or is it better to be far away? If you’ve spent any time on social media or the web you’ll see lots of photos just like the one below where the photographer is close to the subject and you have a blurred out background. There’s nothing wrong with this but it’s done a lot especially in small scale stuff. Let’s think beyond that.

My setup was the Nikon D5, 85 f/1.8 at 1.8. Right there at 85mm I have to be moving around a lot in order to compose. It’s a prime lens I can’t zoom in or out but the challenge was shooting at f/1.8 the whole time so I went back and forth between distances. What was the result? While it is great to have those detail shots they don’t convey the story that I want them to. For years I’ve been going to Nevada City and I have yet to capture the image that really sums up that place to me. The only way to get it is to show more of the town not less. By shooting at f/1.8 the whole time I noticed that everything looked and felt smaller in the photo while still capturing more. That’s what you can do when you shoot further away. Cities are a great place to play around with this because there are so many lines to work with, you can really play around with how sharp and how blurred out you can make them. In the end it all comes down to the story and every one of those background elements comes into play.

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