Use a combination of wide apertures, long focal lengths and close viewpoints to take a number of photographs with shallow depth of field. Try to compose the out-of-focus parts of the picture together with the main subject. Add one or two unedited sequences, together with relevant shooting data and an indication of your selects, to your learning log. Don’t forget that the camera’s viewfinder image is obtained at maximum aperture for maximum brightness and therefore at the shallowest depth of field. Use the depth of field preview button to see the actual depth of field at any particular aperture. It’s surprising to see the effect that a single f stop can have on the appearance of an image.
I shot these outdoors at 200mm focal length with the widest aperture that my lens would allow at that length. On reviewing the data I was surprised at the different shutter speeds that the camera choose to meet the aperture that I set, the light conditions were obviously constantly changing.
The last shot incidentally was very experimental and not something that I would have attempted that day as there were high wind conditions; as I expected only a small part of the flower was in focus and in my attempt to capture it in a moment of lulled wind (and avoid falling over canoes) I had inadvertently stepped back to a focal length of 300mm.
Whilst I was obviously aware that wide apertures create a shallow depth of field, I was not aware that this combined with a long focal length and a close viewpoint accentuates the effect. Although I do enjoy using this technique I believe I have never paid much attention to the blurred background (whether it is composed or not, or how vague/indistinct it is), I will now try to be conscious of this depending on what I want to achieve. I see now that this out of focus part of the shot does need to be handled with just as much care as the main subject as the most successful images are those with a reasonable amount of background (images 1, 2, 3 and 5).