Its out of focus

Some people have asked me about the techniques I use to get the very shallow focus on some of my photographs.

Certainly for some macro work I love large chunks of colour with only a small part in focus. I think what is out of focus in an image is just as important. In some cases I only have a few blades of grass or shoots in focus, leaving the rest of the image in a wash of colour and blurred streaks like brush strokes of a painting.

Moss stems with low sun back lighting

Moss stems with low sun back lighting

There are a number of ways to get a shallow depth of field like this. Using high magnification from a telephoto lens, getting close to the subject, and using extension tubes or a close up lens are all techniques I use, often all together at once. With these methods the depth of field can be down to only a few millimeters thick even with a lens aperture of F8 or F11, so getting the focus on the right spot can be tricky. Extension tubes sit between the camera and lens and allow the lens to focus much closer than it normally would. Close up lenses do the same but screw onto the front of the lens like a filter.

Wood Anemone

Wood Anemone

When looking through layers of undergrowth, I rarely need to move the camera much but rely on focusing through the layers of foliage, each turn of the focus ring picking out new parts and revealing a totally new composition. With the right lighting, and a decent covering of plants to crawl through, I can spend hours hardly moving more than a few metres.

Looking into a Harebell

Looking into a Harebell

A number of the images shown here also have a low evening sun back lighting the subject, giving a great orange glow and producing even more blur from the glare of the sun on the lens.

Moss stems in low sun

Moss stems in low sun

Bluebells

Bluebells

More moss stems with back lighting

More moss stems with back lighting

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About Stuart Scott Images

Stuart Scott is a photographer based in the Scottish Borders. Born and brought up in Wales, Stuart spent much of his childhood around animals and birds, as well as exploring the local countryside where he learnt to enjoy and respect the natural world. He developed a keen interest in photography whilst studying for a Fine Art degree, and in the following years used and explored photography in his work. Since moving to Scotland Stuart has tried to concentrate his photography to within a few miles of his home. As well as following the local wildlife and exploring the Scottish Borders, he has begun a long-term project on the landscape and life of Lauderdale. Stuart's work has been exhibited in a number of places including with Scottish Natural Heritage, Edinburgh Zoo and the Scottish Sea Bird Centre. He recently won The Mammal Society's Mammal Photographer of the Year 2014 Competition. Stuart lives near Lauder with his wife and son.
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