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General Blog

How Much Depth-of-Field (In Bhutan)?

Two young boys pose in the Paro Dzong at festival time, Bhutan.
14mm lens, 1/250 second @ f2.8, ISO 800

On the way home from school, Bhutan.
200mm lens, 1/320 second @ f2, ISO 100

The great thing about DSLR and CSCs is that we have control over our aperture and lens selection, whereas the majority of travellers with their smartphones or simple compact cameras do not! It means we can create much better portraits of the people we meet when travelling.

For instance, we can choose whether to use a telephoto or a wide-angle lens. And we can choose whether to use a small aperture that keeps everything in the background nice and sharp, or a large aperture so our subject is sharply focused against a dreamy background blur.

The photos accompanying this article were shot with two lenses: a 14mm ultra wide-angle which produces lots of depth-of-field and a 200mm shot at a maximum aperture of f2 for incredibly shallow depth-of-field. You will work out which is which pretty easily, I dare say! Which do you like the best? What lens will you take on your next trip? Maybe it will be both!

So, what are the tricks of the trade? With the wide-angle, it is almost impossible to blur the background, so you need to frame your subject against a simple or informative background. This usually means getting in quite close to your subject, even though they may still look quite distant in the final photo. With the 200mm at the wide-open aperture, the closer your subject is to the camera, the more blurred a distant background will be. 

I've chosen some portraits taken in Bhutan for this week's newsletter with the transparent  intention of encouraging you to visit Bhutan later this year with David Oliver and me. We'd love to have you along! Click the Read More link to see some more portraits and to read why I think you should visit Bhutan this year!

This farmer insisted on having his photo taken - and I wasn't about to argue with that hoe!
200mm lens, 1/400 second @ f2, ISO 100

Young monk reading the scriptures, Bhutan.
200mm lens, 1/40 second @ f2, ISO 2000

A farmer met on the winding roads of Bhutan.
200mm lens, 1/180 second @ f2, ISO 160

A monk of some seniority who was kind enough to pose in Jakar Dzong.
14mm lens, 1/640 second @ f2.8, ISO 3200

Bhutan's economy is based on the 'happiness index', rather than gross domestic product like most Western nations. This doesn't mean that absolutely everything about Bhutan is like a fairy tale, but there's no doubt the people you meet are incredibly warm and friendly. While we might think our guides and drivers are paid to be nice to us, I actually believe it just comes naturally to the Bhutanese because practically everyone else we meet is just as friendly - it's a great place to visit.

And a great place to take portraits. Sometimes people will ask to see their photo on the back of your camera, some will even ask if you can send them a print or a JPEG - and if I promise, I write a note in my diary and make sure that I do. However, I warn them that with the mail and my general tardiness, it might take several weeks!

Tourism is Bhutan's second largest source of income, so the government encourages its people to continue wearing traditional dress. It means that as you drive around the countryside, you feel like you are stepping back 50 or 100 years in time - and the portraits feel that way too!

As mentioned before, this will be my third visit to Bhutan. I was so impressed with Bhutan that last time, I took my whole family. And this time my wife Kathie is coming along again because she won't let me go without her! Bhutan is a very special place!

The November 2016 photography tour is confirmed, but we still have some seats available. We travel in modern 4WD vehicles and we stay in clean 4-star hotels. Our drivers and guides are very accommodating and we deal with a family-owned business. And they look after all the visa requirements - all you have to do is get yourself to Bangkok for the flight into Bhutan.

For more information, please click here to see our brochure. The price is US $8490 and if you're interested, please email me (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Kim Valenti (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).



Peter Eastway Uses

Peter Uses

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