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Old 11-20-15, 12:37 PM
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plonz 
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For the photographers...

NON-C&V CONTENT ALERT

I am a point and shoot kind of guy but am really impressed when I see a bike photographed like this, where it almost looks 3D against a blurred background.

Is the secret to this in the equipment, technique or both? Is it possible for a novice like me to take a picture like this using my mid-range Nikon Coolpix p600 digital camera? That thing has so many settings I know nothing about so I'm hoping it's possible and I just need to learn how.

Thanks for any advice and would love to post some sexier pictures of my vintage builds.

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Old 11-20-15, 12:48 PM
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Stand back and zoom in on the bike. The biggest mistake people make is be too close to the object they are framing.
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Old 11-20-15, 12:55 PM
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This is type of shot has what's called a "shallow depth of field." Easiest way to achieve this is to back up and zoom in.
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Old 11-20-15, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by plonz View Post
Is the secret to this in the equipment, technique or both?
It's both. Specifically, you want to think about sensor size. It looks like your Nikon has one of the smallest (if not the smallest) sensor sizes (1/2.3") available on the market:



For the kind of photo that you posted above with a shallow depth of field (that's the blurred background in lay people's speak), you want a camera with at least a Four Thirds size sensor, I think.

Good luck!
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Old 11-20-15, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by plonz View Post
NON-C&V CONTENT ALERT

I am a point and shoot kind of guy but am really impressed when I see a bike photographed like this, where it almost looks 3D against a blurred background.

Is the secret to this in the equipment, technique or both? Is it possible for a novice like me to take a picture like this using my mid-range Nikon Coolpix p600 digital camera? That thing has so many settings I know nothing about so I'm hoping it's possible and I just need to learn how.

Thanks for any advice and would love to post some sexier pictures of my vintage builds.

The blurred background is easy. The answer is depth of field, the amount of area that is in focus, based on the focal length of the lens and the aperture (opening). The distance to the subject is also a factor.

So this varies based on the settings of the lens and the characteristics of the lens. A telephoto lens has the ability to do more "shallow" depth of field than a wide angle lens.

And the larger dSLRs also have the ability to provide more depth of field.

It sounds complicated, but if I could show you it would seem simple. On my camera it is easy to achieve, but I have to say the light in the picture helps as well.

Choose aperture priority, use the largest aperture (smallest number) and experiment with the distance. I would chose something like a portrait lens length - 80-100mm equivalent.
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Old 11-20-15, 01:01 PM
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you need a DSLR with a large lens to take that kind of photo.. you need a lens with 2.8f or 1.8f on a prime lens. it's hard to achieve something like that with a P&S camera.. but there might be a filter or some way to do it with software, not sure.
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Old 11-20-15, 01:09 PM
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That's a skilful shot in a lot of ways. I'd like to know what is holding that bike up.
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Old 11-20-15, 01:10 PM
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On a camera that has an adjustable lens opening or "f stop, you would select the widest opening i.e f2.8 to give you the shallowest depth of field, that would give the greatest amount of background blur. Conversely if you wanted the whole photo to be as sharp as possible you would use a small lens opening like f16 although most digital cameras are at their best around f8.
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Old 11-20-15, 01:10 PM
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op, i just looked it up ... your nikon has an aperture priority mode where you select an aperture level (in this case a low number, giving you a shallow depth of field), and the camera automatically selects the proper shutter speed to use with the available light.
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Old 11-20-15, 01:12 PM
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nice pic, but I am more in awe on how the bike is standing by itself
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Old 11-20-15, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by peugeot mongrel View Post
That's a skilful shot in a lot of ways. I'd like to know what is holding that bike up.
Looks like someone might be holding the top of the right brake lever, the hand has been partially photoshopped out.
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Old 11-20-15, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by peter_d View Post
Looks like someone might be holding the top of the right brake lever, the hand has been partially photoshopped out.
Probably right - I do Photoshop for a living - that would be a good place.
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Old 11-20-15, 01:21 PM
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You all are the best and thank you eschlwc for looking up my specific camera.

I have some practicing to do...

Originally Posted by eschlwc View Post
op, i just looked it up ... your nikon has an aperture priority mode where you select an aperture level (in this case a low
number, giving you a shallow depth of field), and the camera automatically selects the proper shutter speed to use with the available light.
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Old 11-20-15, 01:22 PM
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The info given above about lens settings is more or less accurate but not sufficient in your case. You'll never be able to get actual depth of field that shallow with the tiny sensor in most point&shoot cameras. Unless you are 6 inches from the bike.

Along with overall image quality, this is one of the draws of using a camera with a larger sensor.

If you have some skills in Photoshop or similar software you could mimic this look, but that doesn't sound like the level of easiness you are looking for.

There are a number of smartphone apps that you can use to modify photos to get (an approximation of) this look. Haven't used any of them so I don't have a specific recommendation.

Last edited by inkandsilver; 11-20-15 at 01:25 PM. Reason: clarity
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Old 11-20-15, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by justMatthew View Post
you need a DSLR with a large lens to take that kind of photo.. you need a lens with 2.8f or 1.8f on a prime lens.
This was the case several years ago but it's no longer true. The market for cameras that slot between DSLRs and point-and-shoots has exploded, and they are more than capable of producing such photos.
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Old 11-20-15, 01:43 PM
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50mm f2.2
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Old 11-20-15, 03:40 PM
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You don't necessarily need high end shootin' irons; just one with a decent zoom, so you can step way back, then zoom way in. Although for minimizing depth of field, a camera with an aperture priority mode is best. My (12? 14? year old) Fuji FinePix 2800 has only 2.1 MP, but nice optics and 12x zoom. They can be had second hand on the big auction site for $20-30 shipped.

Sample shots with that camera:






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Old 11-20-15, 03:49 PM
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A lot of the depth of field has mostly been touched on. Camera and glass will always play a role in your shot. Your judgement and setting has a much larger effect. I use a Sony a6000 which would slot right inbetween a point and shoot and a higher end DSLR. I enjoy it very much.

As for holding bikes up for photos, my trick is using a BBQ skewer. Will hold the bike up perfectly after setting it up right. Small enough where it's hardly noticeable unless you're looking for it and easily removed from a photo if you want.
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Old 11-20-15, 06:57 PM
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Photo blur could have been touched in, but maybe not. There's more to this pic that shallow depth of field.
His specs tell most of it:
1/6400s f/2.2 ISO400 50mm (35mm eq:75mm)

High "film speed", ie 400. Very fast shutter speed. Large aperture. Longish focal length.

But after you achieve shallow depth of field, you also need to get the depth of focus right.
That bike is in focus from just in front of the rear tire to the far edge of the front rim. Perhaps a bit further.
Since there is nothing directly behind the bike that's not too hard. But with a wide open aperture and shallow depth of field
you need to make sure you focus on the right spot on the bike.

If I remember my old formulas, focus at a point on the subject where one third of the subject is in front of the focus point, and 2/3rds behind it. So in this shot, focusing on the rear brake caliper of even the crank would probably do it. Doing this with a point and shoot and auto focus may work. But having a manual focus option on your camera would be easier. Which I'll bet the Nikon has. And a longer focal length, standing back and zooming in, aids with achieving the proper focus depth too.
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Old 11-20-15, 07:14 PM
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That camera does take some nice shots, Lascaux-C-man. But for the purposes of this technique discussion, and at the risk of maybe inadvertently offending you…not intended… take a close look at what is in focus in your second pic. Only the rear half of your rear fender. Which is what the auto focus sensor dialed in on. Or you did, on purpose. The rest of the bike is out of focus. Which is one of the things that appeals to me about the photo.

In the first picture, the only part of the bike truly in focus is the decal on the fork blade. Or more specifically, the lug on the fork crown. And a bit behind it. It's a beautiful picture. I especially like the green bike with wooden fenders pic. Very atmospheric.

Your third pic, all of it is in focus. Or most of it. Because it's all in roughly the same plane relative to the axis of the lens. But you can still see that the farthest rivets are slightly out of focus.

But if the OP is trying to achieve a shot where the whole bike is in focus, as in the example he posted , it can be pretty tricky to do easily with a point n' shoot camera. But can be done with practice and the right settings and focusing.


Originally Posted by Lascauxcaveman View Post
You don't necessarily need high end shootin' irons; just one with a decent zoom, so you can step way back, then zoom way in. Although for minimizing depth of field, a camera with an aperture priority mode is best. My (12? 14? year old) Fuji FinePix 2800 has only 2.1 MP, but nice optics and 12x zoom. They can be had second hand on the big auction site for $20-30 shipped.

Sample shots with that camera:







Last edited by rootboy; 11-20-15 at 07:38 PM.
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Old 11-20-15, 09:17 PM
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I don't know about cameras but you can fool around with the effects menu in MS photoviewer. I used selective focus to quickly do this:

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Old 11-20-15, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by rootboy View Post
That camera does take some nice shots, Lascaux-C-man. But for the purposes of this technique discussion, and at the risk of maybe inadvertently offending you…not intended… take a close look at what is in focus in your second pic. Only the rear half of your rear fender. Which is what the auto focus sensor dialed in on. Or you did, on purpose. The rest of the bike is out of focus. Which is one of the things that appeals to me about the photo.

In the first picture, the only part of the bike truly in focus is the decal on the fork blade. Or more specifically, the lug on the fork crown. And a bit behind it. It's a beautiful picture. I especially like the green bike with wooden fenders pic. Very atmospheric.

Your third pic, all of it is in focus. Or most of it. Because it's all in roughly the same plane relative to the axis of the lens. But you can still see that the farthest rivets are slightly out of focus.

But if the OP is trying to achieve a shot where the whole bike is in focus, as in the example he posted , it can be pretty tricky to do easily with a point n' shoot camera. But can be done with practice and the right settings and focusing.

All, true, and not offended. And shooting a little above my pay grade

I suppose on that second shot, I could have bracketed my depth of field by setting the autofocus on the rear fender, then the next frame on the pedal, then the next frame on the back of the front fender, then the stem, and just picking the one that looks right. Usually I'm not thinking that far ahead. I suppose on that shot, from that angle, my subconscious decided it really was all about the fenders, and specifically the fender closest to the camera. Maybe the next time I'm out in good light with that camera I'll try the same composition with multiple targeted focus points and see how much of the subject I can get really sharp. The picture the OP started with really does nail it, doesn't it? Thanks for making me think about this.

I guess the point of my post above was that you can get "pretty close" to those professional results with a little technique, and not much camera.
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Old 11-20-15, 11:13 PM
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Originally Posted by dogfather69 View Post
nice pic, but I am more in awe on how the bike is standing by itself
The correct answer is those skinny tires are stuck in the sidewalk crack
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Old 11-21-15, 04:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Lascauxcaveman View Post
I guess the point of my post above was that you can get "pretty close" to those professional results with a little technique, and not much camera.
This is what a lot people don't get. Camera companies sometimes give their simple cameras to pro photographer for advertising to show the public just what the camera can do. You just have to know the limitations of your camera and work within them.
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Old 11-21-15, 05:34 AM
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Thanks for all that info.
As a point-shoot person who takes crappy pics , this is helpful.
I've never given it much thought, which reflects in my pics, of course.
If I take a good picture, it's because some engineer somewhere designed a camera for idiots, and I bought it.
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