BTL: My Son on the Dock in Newport Beach

In Photography by Jerad HillLeave a Comment


This is one of my favorite photos I have taken of my second child. I captured this photo while we were on vacation in Newport Beach in 2013. He was 17 months old at this time. He was sitting on the steps of the dock and I just happened to have my camera in hand. I walked right up to him and said, “hey buddy.” He looked up at me, smiled and I took the photo. The sun was low as it was less than 30 minutes from sunset. The sunset was actually behind me but it was blocked by houses. To compensate for the fact that the sun was not out and shining at that point, I increased my ISO and opened the aperture wide. This also gave the photo a nice shallow depth of field, which I believe helps draw your eyes to him. A shallow depth of field puts everything in the background out of focus. You can see that in this photo, though the furthest point of the background is not far away, it is out of focus. I made sure to quickly focus on his eyes using back button focus rather than allowing my camera to focus as I pressed the shutter down (I will post a tutorial on back button focus soon). I have missed focus so many times by allowing the camera to focus as I press down the shutter button, especially when I needed to capture the photo fast before the moment had passed. I kept the shutter speed at 1/160th of a second to avoid any blur that could have happened due to the quick movement of my boy. My kids are always on the move, so most of the time I keep my shutter speed around 1/160th or higher. Earlier in the day, we were at the beach and they were running around. I increased the shutter speed to 1/250th of a second to make sure my photos did not get blurry.

When photographing people, it is easy to miss the correct focal point which results in key features of the human face being out of focus. There are two areas of the human face that need to be sharply in focus, the eyes and the lips. These are two areas we often focus on when we are looking at the face of another person. Even if we don’t realize we are doing it, the eyes and lips are where we look. When you shoot with a wide aperture, meaning setting your fstop to something 2.8 or lower, the depth of your focal area becomes smaller. This makes it much easier for something to fall out of focus. Depending on the lens, when shooting as wide as fstop 2.8, the tip of the nose could be in focus, but the eyes slightly out of focus. Subconsciously, when we look at a photo of the human face, we can tell that something is not right. Even though we might not notice the fact that something is out of focus, we know that something is not appealing in the photo.

Camera Mode: Manual
Focal Length: 38mm

Shutter Speed: 1/160
Aperture: 2.8
ISO: 800
Flash: No Flash

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Another really appealing aspect of this photo is the angle. Because kids are so much smaller than adults, the angle of the photo can really change the emotion of the photo. I love looking at this photo because this is typically how I see my son unless I sit down on the floor to be at his level.

In post production, I made slight changes to color correct the photo. All adjustments were made in Adobe Lightroom 5.

Gear Used In This Photo:

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