The colourful bird caller

Ben Bedding

Canon EOS 400D, 55-200mm

Ben sent in a picture of someone selling bird callers in the street. He's tried to make the person stand out, which he has succeeded in doing by turning most of the picture black & white while keeping the man and his trolley in colour. He's also blurred the background.

There aren't all that many occasions when having a black & white picture with a spot of colour works. To me it nearly always looks like a gimmick, especially when the effect is as obvious as it is here, with an overly saturated man and a completely desaturated background.

Another issue is the background blur. It is supposed to recreate the narrow depth of field you get when using either a very wide aperture or a very long lens, but Ben's forgotten how focus actually works. The problem is that Ben has blurred everything from the foreground to the background to exactly the same degree, rather than creating an image that goes out of focus gradually. The end result does not look natural at all, but rather like a painted backdrop. The secret to doing this sort of thing is to apply different levels of blur according to the distance from the focus point. In this case, the rucksack on the man's shoulders on the left-hand side should be a lot sharper than the columns in the background because it's much closer to the main subject of the image, and so the plane of focus. In the picture of mine below, I have demonstrated how to apply different layers of Gaussian blur to build up a more realistic sense of a scene gradually going out of focus.

Faking a shallow depth of field




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