Isolate the Subject | No. 6 in a Kids’ Photography SeriesPosted by Kelly Buss on May 16, 2012 in 365, 365 With Kids, Blog, Photography | 1 comment
Over the past five months, my boys have been working diligently on their own 365 project.
I thought it was time to challenge the boys with the prompt, “Isolate the Subject”.
Right away, my seven and eight year-old boys asked, “Uhh, what does ‘isolate’ mean?”
My quick answer about drawing the viewer’s eye straight to the subject without any other distractions was met with blank stares.
To aide in their understanding, I started questioning them:
“What could you change on the camera settings to isolate the subject?”
“How could you remove distracting things from the background?”
“What could you do while setting up the shot to isolate the subject?”
Here are three things the boys said:
- “Mom, I would change that number, you know, …what is that ‘a’ word again?” I replied, “Aperture.” “Yeah, aperture. I want that number small, right?”
- “We need to make sure that there is nothing funny in the background, like a branch or tree or toy. And I would try to make the background plain.”
- “I like the way the pictures look when we take them in the barn. The shadows really help the subject stand out. I would try taking pictures there.”
Although the boys did not use the correct terminology, each tip they suggested shows their understanding of photography and offers the young photographer a simple solution for isolating the subject.
Widen Your Aperture
After my previous posts about depth of field and aperture, the boys began to understand how aperture effects the depth of field. By changing their aperture to a smaller f-number (wider aperture) and thus shallower depth of field, they created a picture where the only thing in focus was their subject.
Control the Background
For my boys, this was the easiest way to isolate the subject because it does not involve changing settings on the camera. I sent the boys out to hunt for areas in our yard that they could use as backgrounds. They came back with several ideas such as the grass, the deck steps, and the sky. Next, we talked about composing the picture so that the subject is completely surrounded by the background. I reminded them that this means changing the angle from which they are shooting. Finally, I sent them back out with the camera and their LEGO mini-figure to capture the shot.
By using either dark shadows to black out the background or bright light to create a backlit scene, the boys brought attention to the subject. On our little farm, we discovered that the lighting near our barn stalls works perfectly for this. If the boys shoot from outside the barn looking inside, they achieve perfect natural lighting on the subject with a dark background. If they shoot from the inside looking out, they create either a soft back-lit shot or a silhouette.
What are other ways to isolate the subject?