Archive for February, 2007

Shallow DOF

• Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

Anne Dorte

Using a shallow DOF can create an interesting effect, as it attracts attention to the parts in focus.

I have often used this effect, shooting at f/2.8 or f/4 with my 85mm f/1.8, but I decided to try out an even more extreme version: shooting wide open on my 50mm f/1.4. The 50mm f/1.8 isn’t that interesting wide open as the drop in contrast is rather pronounced, and it needs to be stopped down a little to be sharp enough for most use. And at f/2.8 it really isn’t any sharper than the 17-55mm f/2.8 wide open.

The 50mm f/1.4, however, is a slightly different story, since it doesn’t loose exactly the same amount of contrast (even if there is some loss). But it has a somewhat dreamy effect that can be used creatively. And of course, at f/2 it performs better than the 50mm f/1.8, so for these types of shots it performs better than the classic f/1.8 workhorse — although nowhere near the famous 85mm f/1.4, which is not in my posession, though.

Anyway, the shot here is of Anne Dorte, and I guess it shows the classical use of shallow DOF: Eyes sharp in focus, everything else not in focus, and background blurred beyond recognition. Taken indoor with available window light at 200 ISO, handheld. Processed with Capture NX and resized with Photoshop. Click the picture to see a slighly larger version.

Japanese culture

• Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Having just arrived back to Europe from a business trip to Tokyo, Japan, it once again striked me how cultural differences has a big impact on our behaviour and perception.

In general, I find Japanese people very friendly and I like travelling in Japan. Usually when going somewhere, I often grab a Latte at the nearest Starbucks (possibly a Venti with an extra shot, making it a quad-shot), and this time was no exception. Entering Starbucks with my collegue, a younger japanese women was about to exit. Being polite, we held the door open for her and waited until she had passed us… much to her surprise! We were apparently terribly wrong in doing so, since we were 1) male and even 2) (European) business-men dressed in tie, for whom you apparently give way if you’re a japanese woman. We were equally surprised of her reaction in turn, of course.

Another noticeable difference was the treatment of smokers. Sure, most places requires people to take a stroll outside to smoke, but the strange thing was that many taxis has a slight “scent” of smoke. Apparently it is permitted to smoke inside a taxi, and most even seem to have a special air-cleaning system installed to cope with the smoke. The thing most striking, though, was that at the time of my travel, the headline news in the US was the fact that Barack Obama is a smoker. And this, according to some, makes him unsuitable as a president! Now, I’m glad I’m not a smoker, but I doubt it really disqualifies anyone from being the next Mr. President…

The Emperors Palace, Tokyo

Anyway, as usual, I’m attaching a picture taken during the trip. This was actually done with my Nokia camera-phone with its 3MPix Carl Zeiss optics, and the panorama of the emperors palace has been quickly stitched in Photomerge (PS CS2). I did have my trusty Nikon D70 with me also, but not when I had the chance to make this shot, taken near the central railway station in Tokyo.