Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Going for close-up bokeh with a Fuji 56mm on an X-T1

Instead of using a macro lens, I often prefer shooting my close-ups with a wide aperture prime lens used wide open. This provides a very shallow depth of field and an extreme bokeh effect in the out of focus areas that gives me abstract color and light patterns to use in the composition of the image. The Fiji 56mm f/1.2 lens has become one of my favorite lenses to use this way. When coupled with the convenience of the new tilt-screen of the X-T1 it makes a very convenient package to use for getting in tight with a low angle view of flowers and foliage.

This is the basic kit I used to take all the photos below: A Fuji X-T1 with tilt-screen mounted with the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 lens, a 3-stop neutral density filter to cut the exposure so I could work with wide open aperture, and a set of the 62mm Nikon 5T and 6T close up lenses mentioned in the blog yesterday. 
Of course using a lens at f/1.2 or f/1.4 on a very sunny day presents other problems when the native ISO is 200. You can easily see why if you are familiar with the "f/16 sunny rule" for manually calculating daylight exposures.

The rule goes like this: On a bright sunny day with the aperture set to f/16 the shutter speed would equal the ISO -- in our case 1/200 second. Moving the aperture from f/16 to f/1.4 is 7 stops and would require an equal move with the shutter speed from 1/200 second to 1/12800 second -- almost 2 stops beyond the 1/4000 second capability of the camera. To solve this problem I use a 2 to 3 stop neutral density filter. This provides me with a comfortable working shutter speed while maintaining the open aperture I want.

All the photos below of plants I found in the local farmers market were taken using very open apertures ranging from f/1.2 to f/2. The vibrant colors were created by processing the RAW files with the Velvia/VIVID camera color profile now available in Adobe Camera Raw.

The circular bokeh background of this image is one of my favorites. Shot at f/1.2 only the stem and some of the fuzz on the pussy willow are in focus. The overall rust color is from other stems in the background. 

My camera was set to aperture priority mode. For this shot I dialed in a +1 exposure compensation to maintain the brightness of the large, all-white area of the flower, otherwise it would have gone dark through under-exposure.

Keeping the background flowers completely out of focus at f/1.4 creates a color cast to harmonize with the foreground flower. 

Ahhhh...one of my favorite summer tastes is fresh basil. 

I put the focus on the right edge of the second egg because it had a rippled surface texture that would make it stand out.

A perfect example of using shallow depth of field in close. I wanted just the tip of the stem and some of the leaf surface in focus, and everything else drifting out of focus. The red apple has just enough detail to let us know what it is. I didn't color correct the bluish cast that was a result of the apples being in shadow. I rather like the color. 

For this shot and the two below I used the tilt screen of the X-T1 to place the camera very low so it would be on the same level as the subject.  


If you are planning on purchasing this lens or filters, you can help support this site at no extra cost to you by purchasing from one of our affiliate sellers listed below -- and thanks for your support.

The Hoya 62mm Neutral Density (NDX8) 0.9 Filter can be ordered from:  BH-Photo    

The Nikon close-up lenses I use are no longer available, but can occasionally be found on eBay. There are two lenses, a 5T and 6T. The 5T is +1.5x and the 6T is +2.8x. Close-up lenses are often sold in kits of +1, +2, and +4. I have found that the +1 and +2 usually work quite well, but +4 often pushes the limits and gets a little soft. Of course, sometimes the soft effect adds something pleasant to the mix. 

Here is a Hoya close up kit:
Hoya 62mm Close-Up Kit (Multi-Coated):   BH-Photo

The closest I have found to the Nikon +2.7x lens is this +3x by Hoya:  
Hoya 62mm +3 Close-Up Pro 1 Digital Multi-Coated Glass Filter:  BH-Photo

...and in case you are thinking of ordering the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 lens:
The Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R Lens can be ordered from:   BH-Photo   Amazon  

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