Today’s story behind the image is actually a story behind two images and another example of how to use your camera’s AV setting to help create the impact you want for your photos. It’s like a three for one deal!
My family and I had the honor of being invited to celebrate the third birthday of our friends son. She’s also a professional photographer but as the hostess I figured she wouldn’t have an opportunity to get behind her camera. So I had mine in tow.
We were outside on a beautiful sunny spring day in the Seattle area. It was warm, dry, and absolutely beautiful. The kids were jumping on the trampoline and throwing water balloons and having all sorts of fun.
At a particular moment in the party, the birthday boy (pictured below) was hanging out by a bubble machine that was blowing little bubbles for the kids to play with. At that same moment another kid decided to throw a water balloon at the birthday boy. Not being armed with a water balloon to retaliate with, the obvious response was to pick up the bubble machine to try to dump the water on on the other boy. But, when he did, the birthday boy DUMPED ALL of the water and bubble soap on his own head. He was literally covered and soaked from the tip of his head to the middle of his chest.
One of the parents jumped to the rescue and told him to close his eyes as he picked him up and raced the birthday boy to the water hose to wash off all the soap. Due to the quick thinking and nimble moves of the parent, disaster was adverted and everyone had a good laugh.
I snapped this photo of the birthday boy just after he had been washed off. I didn’t want any of the business of the background. I wanted to zero all of the focus on him. He was a hot mess and I wanted that to stand out with out anything else to compete with what was going on in the image. So I needed a small depth of field. As you learned two days ago, that means I chose a really small AV setting. This photo was shot with an AV setting of 3.2.
Sometime after that it was time to sing happy birthday and blow out candles on the birthday cupcakes. As I saw the scene shaping up I realized it was going to be important to focus in on the family but I also wanted to show that there were others there to celebrate. Consequently, I needed a larger depth of field which means I used a larger AV setting. My AV setting for this photo was 9.0.
If you’re observation skills are sharp you’ll realize that the birthday boy has a different outfit. Yes, this photo was taken the same day. No. This was not an outfit that they put on right after he doused himself in bubble soap. It was actually his THIRD change! The bubble incident was the first. He changed. Then he had another incident and changed again. So the outfit pictured was the THIRD outfit (and I’m not sure it was the last one either).
As I developed the photos, the one that stood out to me as having the most impact from the afternoon was the first one pictured above where the birthday boy is all on his own, one hot mess of a boy. That photo captured the reality that was his third birthday. He was all in. Making a mess. Having a blast and then making another mess. As more than one person noted that day, the birthday boy was ALL BOY! So that one image, tells the story of a moment but also represents something about that boy, that day, and that season of his life.
That image wouldn’t have had the same impact if there had been a lot of other stuff in focus, competing with the attention of the birthday boy. So having a narrow depth of field was key to giving that photo the impact that it has.
Are you starting to understand how you camera’s AV setting helps shape the depth of field and how that in turn helps shape the impact that your photo has?
Now keep practicing! Go put your camera on AV priority and try different AV settings to see how that impacts your depth of field and how that shapes the impact that your photos have.