How to take professional looking photos of your sculpture on a budget: part II

3. Take more creative shots. Remember when I said “more on that later”?  Well here we are.  Now that you have a better camera capable of producing higher quality images with more creative control, and a sharp, fast lens that can create shallow depth of field, it’s time to put them to use.

One of the hallmarks of professional looking photography is shallow depth of field.  See the image below for reference.

Sculpture Shallow Depth of Field

Shallow Depth of Field

Image Credit: Ari Takes Pictures

Notice how the subject (in this case, the elephant) stands in contrast to the blurred background.  That blurred background is called “bokeh” and it’s the result of shallow depth of field.  This is an effect that iPhones and point and shoots simply cannot produce (not effectively, at least) and is used to great effect to draw the viewer’s eye to the subject, rendering all else into an inconsequential blur.

To produce this effect position the subject (your sculpture) as far as reasonably possible from the background you’re shooting against.

Next, set your camera to Aperture Priority (consult your manual as every manufacturer is different) and open the aperture as wide as it will go.  Doing so will produce the “blurriest” bokeh (i.e. background blur).  Do note, however, that many lenses are slightly soft wide open, meaning that if you want a super sharp subject with a reasonably blurred background, you may want to stop down the aperture (make it smaller).  It’s a bit of a balance, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

4. Obey the rule of thirds…mostly.  Nothing screams amateur like a subject placed in the center of the frame.  It’s boring, hackneyed, and doesn’t take into account our natural predilection for all things phi.

Don’t do it.

Instead, imagine your viewfinder is broken down into a grid of nine equally sized boxes (most newer cameras actually have this feature built in).  Place your subject either in the left column or right, taking special note of the power points (the four points in the center of the frame).  An example of their use can be seen in the photo below.

Rule of Thirds Power Points

Rule of Thirds: Power Points

Image Credit: At Home With My Kiddos

Notice how the child’s face and torso align almost perfectly with the leftmost power points. This is where your viewer will naturally focus first.  What’s more, English readers overwhelmingly view left power points before right, as that’s the direction they read.  When framing your compositions, keep this in mind.

The rule of thirds isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it’s one you should try to follow as often as possible.  Center framing, more often than not, is just plain boring.  There will be times, however, when a subject simply looks better in the center of the frame, and that’s when you’ll just have to use your gut.

For all of your favorite artist clays, from Chavant to J-Mac, Van Aken to Monster Clay, don’t forget to visit our sculpting supplies storefront, www.afasupplies.com.

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