A few days ago…no weeks…no maybe it’s been a month? I can’t remember, so many things have gone on lately that days feel like mere hours and it feels like it happened yesterday…I caught part of Susan Stripling’s keynote on Creative Live’s Photo Week (brilliant, btw). I’ve heard so many of my photog friends rave about her work, although I never really felt like our styles meshed well, so I wasn’t a huge follower. (Don’t read that the wrong way – her work is gorgeous…just different stylistically from the path I want to follow. And that’s a beautiful thing because we can’t all be the same, and I have so much respect for what she does).
However, after hearing her talk about how she creatively composes her photos, I was in awe and completely inspired to try some new techniques, particularly while second shooting.
Finding a different angle to shoot from was the main way I was trying to make my photos different from Dani’s, or whoever I was second shooting with. But by the end of July, I was getting bored, because there’s only so much you can do from a different angle – it starts to all look the same.
But, by using compression you can create something completely different, even if it happens to be from a very similar angle. While I had always heard that longer telephoto lenses (in my bag, that’s my 85mm and my 70-200mm) were more flattering, I don’t know that I really understood the value of the image compression they offered. Without getting all techy, let’s just simplify it down to say that because of the longer focal length, they have a much stronger blurring effect on anything in the image that isn’t on the same plane of focus as the subject. Because of this blurring effect, called bokeh, you can then make your subject stand out in a much more impactful way…and create some really awesome compositions by intentionally using bokeh. It doesn’t have to always be behind the subject either – selecting your lens to create intentional bokeh both in front and behind the subject was a completely new idea to me.
This has changed my world. It’s definitely something I pull out of my creative toolbox whenever I can, because it makes for more interesting compositions, and is actually super useful in tight situations.
I really loved using this technique at this wedding I did with Dani at Running Hare Vineyard. The vines were perfect for creating interesting framing, and I did most of my part of bride and groom portraits with my 85mm lens wide open to get the best effect…and I’m just a little obsessed with how well it worked out.
Nikon D800, 85mm 1.4mm lens at 2.5 or 1.8 between 1/160 and 1/100.