Monday, February 10, 2014

Still life photography with a tilt-shift lens on a Fuji X-Pro1

One of the reasons I like using a tilt-shift lens for my still life photography is that I also like to use my lenses at wide open apertures. The shallow depth of field from working wide open often leaves important background objects so soft that they don't have enough detail to be identified. Simply increasing the aperture would solve this, but it would also have the side effect of putting everything else in greater focus. Judicious use of a tilt-shift allows me to place a bit more focus on some areas while keeping the rest of the image soft.

For today's blog photos I used a tilt-shift adapter on a Fuji X-Pro1 with a 35mm f/2 Nikon lens. I did a complete blog post on the Kipon tilt-shift adapter a little while ago, if you want to learn more about this item.

In all these images I was working around the maximum lens aperture of f/2 on the Nikon 35mm lens.  This is equivalent to a 50mm lens on the X-Pro1 and at this distance the depth of field should be quite shallow.  A slight tilt forward added some focus detail to the type writer keys and Lucky Strike package in this scene depicting the desk of a photo journalist in the late 1930's. All the props, including the Lucky Strike pack, are authentic to the era.

I wanted to use the situation as a stock photo so I removed the cigarette pack. I also decreased the tilt a tiny bit to decrease focus on the background. The difference is quite subtle in such a small image, but you can see the it clearly by comparing the last row of keys on the type writer. 

In this version the lens tilt was actually a little reversed so the background went completely soft and the glass is sharp because the lens is now closer to its plane of focus. 
This photo, as well as most of my still life images, was done back lit with window lighting that was softened through a scrim. The patch of light hitting the desk and bottom of the glass was caused by placing a small silver card off to the right side to reflect some direct sunlight into this area.

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