(New Picture): Shallow Depth of Field Portrait

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: May 15, 2017

Category: Photography

This past weekend I was presenting the very first Photograph Like a Thief, One Day Seminars in Petersfield, UK, thanks to the incredible organisation and planning of my friend Vernon Nash.

The day was based on content in my new book, Photograph Like a Thief where I went through a number of Lighting Set Ups and Photo Shoots followed by post production and a mix of Photoshop techniques.

For one of the photo shoots, I went through how to light and shoot a Shallow Depth of Field portrait; the result of which you can see below where I photographed attendee, Femi and further down I take you through the set up:

Glyn Dewis - Petersfield Seminar

Here you can see the set up where I was using a grey seamless roll of paper behind Femi, and for the modifier you can just about see the bottom of the Elinchrom 135cm Octa; in fact here’s a list of the kit used:

  • Camera: Canon 5D MKIII
  • Lens: 85mm f/1.8 (photographing at an Aperture of f/2.0
  • Background: Grey Seamless Paper (Smoke Grey) purchased from Warehouse Express (WEX)
  • Tripod: 3 Legged Thing ‘Winston’ and yes I do need to get an ‘L’ Bracket 🙂
  • Light: Elinchrom ELB 400 HS
  • Modifier: Elinchrom Rotalux 135cm (50″) Octa

Glyn Dewis - Petersfield Seminar

In the picture below taken by my friend Brian Dukes, you can see how much I was feathering the light to both darken the background and to take advantage of the soft edge of the light on Femi…

Glyn Dewis - Petersfield Seminar

In this side by side comparison you can see the Before (out of camera) and the After (print ready) versions and the reason I’ve included these is for 2 things…

1. Eyes
Getting your subject to try and raise their bottom eyelids up a little (aka the Peter Hurley Squinch) makes a huge difference as you can see between A and B. The idea here though is to be subtle as you don’t want them to squint and close their eyes too much.

2. Shirt Collar
To help Femi feel more comfortable when being photographed I used a table in front of him that he could lean forward and rest on. This however, and also because of his beard. I felt made him look uncomfortable and restricted by his shirt collar; simply undoing the 2nd button down on the shirt I feel made him look (and feel) much more comfortable…what do you think?

Glyn Dewis - Petersfield Seminar

For those of you interested in settings:

Manual Mode
ISO 100
1/125 second

….oh and the light was metered using my Sekonic L478DR Light Meter

Glyn Dewis - Petersfield Seminar

To see a LARGE version of this picture, CLICK HERE to check out my 500px portfolio page.

Also, tomorrow (Tuesday 16th May) at 7pm GMT I’m running another YouTube LIVE Broadcast and in one of the Photoshop retouching techniques I’ll be going through, I’ll be showing a little of the post processing that went into this picture of Femi where I used the Healing Brush Tool but kept skin texture; a great technique that’s so incredibly simple and effective!

I’ll be LIVE at 7pm and you can watch the broadcasts / join the chat room by CLICKING HERE

Glyn Dewis YouTube LIVE

As always if you have any questions / comments, feel free to make use of the comments section below.

Hope you find this useful

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  1. Steve Hughes

    Thanks Glyn – have you considered this bit of kit instead of an L Bracket. A bit more gear to lug around, but great for a ‘no flaff’ option to rotate the camera without changing it’s position. https://goo.gl/nmZGVY.
    Steve H

    • Glyn Dewis

      Looks interesting Steve…thanks for the ‘heads up’ 😉

      • Steve Hughes

        you is welcome innit 🙂

  2. Anthony Crothers

    Great post, great image from a fabulous day buddy. Thanks for sharing.


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