As a travel videographer, you’ll always aspire to making your videos look more like a short movie. So naturally, the movies shown at the cinema are a great source of inspiration.
One of the things you’ll always see in a movie on a big screen, is shallow depth of field, or in other words: part of the image on screen appears quite blurred, while the main subject is in focus.
Why is this so attractive and why should we try to emulate this?
Because this is exactly how the human eye works. We move our focus, using our eyes, almost unconsciously.
You are probably looking at a screen as you read this. Now, without moving your focus, notice how everything around your computer screen is still visible in your peripheral vision, but it is out of focus.
Now move your eyes to somewhere past your screen and notice how the background is now clear, while the screen is blurry.
That is exactly what we try to simulate with a camera.
Shallow depth of field is very useful for close-up shots with lots of detail or portrait shots of people.
So, if you’re filming videos with your digital SLR camera, here are several techniques you can use to achieve a more shallow depth of field, which means that more of your image is out of focus, while the rest is in focus.
The first technique is to move farther away from your main subject, and then zoom in using your lens. When you set the focus, you’ll notice how the background now appears blurrier.
The second technique is to move your main subject away from the background to create more distance between your subject and the background. This will further increase the blurriness of your background.
The third technique is to lower your f-stop setting and increase your aperture, allowing for more light to come through your lens. This is the most effective technique and will strongly increase the amount of blurriness you can see in your image.
If you do it right, it can be quite effective. And if you blur both the foreground and background by only partially capturing an object much closer to your lens, this will give your image a very nice sense of three-dimensionality.