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I'm taking a picture of one of my larger bonsai, which is too big to sit in front of a plain background. I can however use the lawn and trees around to get a decent background. I've a 2.8f nifty on my Canon 500D and also an L series 24-105. Have a sigma 150-500 and a 55-250.
With those choices in mind would I be better having the subject tree well in front of the background ? I can use a gap behind of around 25 metres max and use the 50mm. Or would I be better leaving the tree as is and pulling well away to use the zoom. I've tried both bit just cannot get the background to blur as much as required.
I suppose the real issue is, would I get better quality image the closer I get; or can I still get a good image using zoom?
I have a very good tripod so no probs there. I've snapped loads but just cannot get one that really sings. I'm using RAW. I have PSE but I always find the blur feature eats into the subject matter.
Hope I have been clear in what I'm asking?
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Quote: I've a 2.8f nifty
nifty, what is that ?
50mm prime, I'd guess
Why don't you set up your tree against different backgrounds, use your different lenses and experiment. It costs you nothing in processing and you will learn a great deal more than sitting waiting for a helpful reply............. LOL.
As the evenings are so lovely at the moment try it later when the sun is setting with a bit of sparkling light coming through the background. I think your 50mm at f2.8 should be fine. Take the ISO right down to 100 or 200, use filters if need be and give it some off camera flash to punch some light into it. Experiment with your settings and I am certain you will get the results you are looking for. Most of all, have fun.
Taken at f2.8, 125th sec with flash, ISO 200 at 70mm end of my 24-70mm. Hope this helps.
I can't imagine that your 50mm prime is only f/2.8
If so, then you will get better bokeh with that than with any of your zoom I suspect.
One other thing to try - if you use Lightroom, the new v5 has a radial radiant tool which could be quite useful for "de-sharpening" the background. Use it to select the area that includes your tree, inverse it and then turn the clarity and sharpening right down and the noise reduction right up. That won't give you bokeh, of course, (bokey is a particular pattern in the out-of-focus zones rather than just blur), but it might help the tree to stand out from the background.
Longer lenses have a narrower angle of view, which is why garden photographers sometimes use long macro lenses for plant portraits - to get better control over the background.
Mozzymoyboy, in general, longer focal lengths give better sharpness separation between the subject and background. Try the 24-105 at the long end and wide open. Am I correct is assuming that it's f2.8?
Yes just the cheap one which is 2.8. This is exactly what I needed to know which lens is likely to give me what I want. Off then to try again.
The following set of pictures, swiped from Wiki, serve to illustrate the angle of view issue. These are taken with four lenses: 100mm, 70mm, 50mm, 28mm. The subject size remains the same, so the photographer has to physically move with each change of lens, but it makes a radical difference to the background.
Which one is which ?
At the same aperture, a 120mm lens and a 60mm lens will have the same DOF if you change position to creata the same framing. So a lot depends onhow far you can move back and how big the tree is. Also don't confuse blur with bokeh. Two 60mm lenses both at f8 will give quite different renditions (one may retain elements of shapes, the other may be smootherand more diffuse).
Personaly I would choose a lens 30mm to 60mm andhave the tree as close to you as framing will allow. I mention these focal lengths as you will maintain a sence of perspective on the shape of the tree and in bonsai I believe shape is crucial to its form.
Mozzy, use a white/light sheet as a backdrop in the garden - maybe make a simple frame to tension the sheet to lessen any creases.
Maybe set your tree container upon some breeze/thermolite blocks to lift it off the ground.
Use your 24-105 @70mm F11 on a tripod, setting the lens height to the centre of the overall tree/container height.
Focus on the trunk for formal/literati tree shapes, or judge the centre for informal shapes.
Expose for the lightest aspect of the tree - you dont mention bark or leaf, or tree type, as this will hopefully over expose the white sheet bg and any creases.
Once you have some formal 'record' shots at the right exposure, get creative with aperture and focal length.
Quote: Which one is which ?
At a guess, the widest-angle shot is the one with 3 acres of detritus in the background, which was my wildly tangential point. Blurring stuff in the background is generally a lot more effective if you can first control what's in it, and that's intrinsically easier with a longer lens.
Please don't judge this by the composition. This shows the kind of background you can get with a long focal length and good positioning. This is at 300mm/600mm and f5.6 with flash, standing fairly close to the flower, and bushes not very far behind. It's a miniature pomegranate btw.
arhb; great info and I shall try those settings. I shall see if making a frame is an option. And thank you everyone sincerely.
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