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Irresistible Tips from Professionals on Bringing out Depth

Photography is a type of two-dimensional art. By utilising the focal length to create effects such as bokeh and perspective compression, we can bring out depth and three dimensionality, which in turn can be used to convey our photographic intention in our works. In the following, we will introduce some techniques for this that are often used by professional photographers. (Edited by: Digital Camera Magazine)

When capturing a landscape shot with wild animals, use a telephoto lens to control depth

EOS 7D Mark II/ EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM/ Focal length: 90mm (approx. 144mm in the 35mm format)/ Manual exposure (f/2.8, 1/80 sec.)/ ISO 800/ WB: Daylight

A shot of a Hokkaido Sika Deer taken at the Shiretoko Peninsula in Hokkaido. As the shoot took place at a time when there was little sunlight in the forest, I chose a lens with a bright f-number. When using the bokeh effect here, I took care to make skilful use of it to ensure that the photo would not end up looking too cluttered. (Photo and text: Yukihiro Fukuda)

Use the perspective compression effect of the telephoto lens to create depth

In this example, I chose a focal length of about 140mm upon taking into consideration three elements that I wanted to include in the shot, starting from the yellow flowers in the foreground, followed by the trees, and finally the landscape furthest away that was obscured by the fog. The perspective compression effect created by the focal length helped to bring out depth in the image as intended.

A bright f-number to blur the foreground and background

I chose the maximum aperture of f/2.8 in order to blur all the objects other than the primary subject. An f-number near the maximum aperture is desirable to create a perspective compression effect using a telephoto lens. I also raised the ISO speed to prevent the image from turning out blurry due to camera shake.

When the composition is flat, create depth by using a wide-angle lens

EOS 5D Mark II/ EF24mm f/1.4L II USM/ FL: 24mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/2, 1/6,000 sec., EV±0)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto

This view of a summer sea evokes the distant memory of my younger days when I used to live by the sea. I captured it with the hope of bringing back old memories that I could only find in my dreams. (Photo and text: Masatsugu Koorikawa)

Tip: Take a close-up shot diagonally from the back to distort the shape of the boat


I took a shot of the boat from the side at first, but it captured the subject’s shape too accurately and failed to convey any sense of dynamism. Regardless of which wide-angle lens you choose, it is hard to create a noticeable distortion effect if you are capturing the subject directly from the front. In comparison, a composition with the bow of the boat directed toward the sea helps to add a sense of dynamism to and bring out depth in the image.

A focal length that exaggerates relative distances

Wide-angle lenses exaggerate relative differences in distance between near and far objects. In this example, I made use of this characteristic by including a boat in the foreground to add a sense of dynamism to the sea view, which would otherwise look flat. The sea would appear too far away if the angle of view was too wide, so I decided that the focal length of 24mm was an ideal choice in this case.

A focusing distance that creates a noticeable distortion effect

I positioned the lens as close as possible to the subject such that the bow of the boat remained visible from this sideward view. Doing so created a significant distortion effect on the boat, as if it was moving toward the sea. As illustrated here, you can play up the unique characteristics of a wide-angle lens by moving the camera close to the subject.

To make a subject to stand out from a same-coloured background, open up the aperture

EOS 5D/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 65mm/ Manual exposure (f/4, 1/8 sec.)/ ISO 1600/ WB: Auto

In this example, I wanted to create a photo with a soft atmosphere using natural light on this vase of flowers in my bathroom. Both the background and the subject were white in colour, so I adjusted the f-number for the subject to stand out from the background. (Photo and text: Katsura Komiyama)

An f-number that creates a large bokeh for a soft ambience

In order for the subject to stand out from a same-coloured background, I set the aperture to the maximum (f/4) to create a background blur, thereby softening the ambience. I also chose a position where the sunlight fell on the subject so that the background appeared relatively darker.

An ISO speed that increases the shutter speed to prevent blurry images due to camera shake

When photographing in a dimly-lit condition that is brightened only with weak natural light, you can make good use of it to create a soft ambience. In this example, I raised the ISO speed to 1600 to obtain a shutter speed of 1/8 second. This is to prevent the image from turning out blurry due to camera shake.

Yukihiro Fukuda

Born in 1965 in Tokyo, Fukuda spends more than half the time each year out in the field. With the introduction of the EOS-1D C, he is currently actively engaged in shooting 4K movies in addition to still photos. He is also the author of numerous books.

Masatsugu Koorikawa

Born in Nara. Besides taking portrait and merchandise photos for camera and music magazines, Koorikawa also releases works with the waterfront of Tokyo Bay as the theme.

Katsura Komiyama

Born in Kanagawa in 1979. Photographer. After studying under Makoto Nakamura followed by his career at a café and a publisher, Komiyama became a freelance photographer.
Nakamura Photographic Academy/ anthony.jp
PHaT PHOTO’S Contract Photographer (Amana)/ amana

Digital Camera Magazine

A monthly magazine that believes that enjoyment of photography will increase the more one learns about camera functions. It delivers news on the latest cameras and features and regularly introduces various photography techniques.

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