Artistic Depth of Field

Today I answered a post, here, that said of a rendered image:

Playing around with depth of field and sort of liked the effect?  Too much?

If you haven’t gone to look at it, it was a figure against a blurred background, basically. The background was barely distinguishable as light and dark objects. (Really, the background is too contrasty and draws attention from the figure, which is its main problem, not the blur.)

You can read all about what depth of field (DOF) is in Wikipedia, here. But I mainly wanted to make a couple of minor notes about why one would use it in rendered art. For you who do not use Poser, the program has the option to simulate camera DOF give an focus object and an “f-stop” numerical value. I talked about simulated DOF in a previous post, here.

Whether it’s too much depends on what you wanted to do.  :)  Not helpful, I know. But here’s something to keep in mind: DOF provides realism as well as focus to your image. Your background doesn’t seem all that far away, but it’s massively blurry–as if your camera were rather nearsighted.  :) If you don’t really want a background–if the background were distracting–you might consider a bokeh effect, or just putting a bokeh background in post, the way I did in this image:

Adrian - Bokeh background

Adrian - Bokeh background

And that’s an artistic, not a technical judgment you have to make.

Realism is not synonymous with photorealism, as my painting teacher would say. When human eyes focus on a subject, the rest of the ground blurs away and otherwise loses detail. We don’t *see* the way cameras do, with uniform clarity–it’s just that we’re used to looking at photographs.  So, realism is a painterly quality.  DOF can add to that, when combined with an interesting set.

Does your setting also play a necessary part in the image? If it only needed to be suggested, then you achieved your goal. Otherwise, you went a little too heavy. Also, if setting is important and you want it included, it’s a touch more effective if your character is in the middle ground, not the foreground, so that you have a blur on the foreground and background both, and a gradient of blur on planes leading up to and away from the subject.

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