You don't have to venture far to take a great image. In fact, if you get down on your knees in your garden a simple blade of grass can look great in a photo! A blade of grass? We hear you cry. Yes, if you use a shallow enough depth-of-field a blade of grass can look pin-sharp and picture perfect against a very blurry background. Of course, you can pick other photogenic subjects such as flowers, plus, if parts of your garden are a little untidy this technique will hide this too!
A macro lens is needed and if you can, use one that has a slightly longer focal length like a 100mm rather than a 50mm for better compression. It does mean, though, that focus is even more critical because depth-of-field is so shallow.
A ground sheet, kneeling mat or even a bin liner will keep your knees or if you're laying down body dry and if you need extra support you could use a bean bag or just shooting hand-held would okay.
Photo by David Clapp - www.davidclapp.co.uk
You need to use a wide f-stop to get the right effect. The aim is to get as much of the subject in focus as possible without losing the nice blurry feel but don't over blur the shot as this will distract from the subject. Try f/5.6 and use the camera's depth-of-field preview button to check the aperture's effect on the background.
Although the main way to control depth of field is with the aperture the positioning of yourself and your subject can also enhance the blur. You want to, ideally, close the distance between the camera and subject but have as much distance as possible between your subject and the background.
It works great on blades of grass, insects and small flowers. later in the year, if you live near a rapeseed field try isolating a specific flower or part of the field out to draw attention to it. You could try blurring part of the foreground as well as the background to create a frame for the subject.
You've read the technique now share your related photos for the chance to win prizes: Photo Month Forum Competition