Do you really know what ‘depth of field’ is? Do you know how to apply it to your images to achieve fabulous results?
What is it?
Depth of field is the area between the closest and farthest objects in a photo that appear acceptably sharp OR the sharp area one third in front and two thirds behind your FOCUS point 🙂 Just think about that for a minute and study the images above. See how I’ve focused on the lead of the pencil in each shot but the amount of sharpness and blur change in each image? All I’ve done is change the aperture 🙂 Read on to find out more!
Why do you need to know all about it?
Whether your image has a shallow depth of field or a deep depth of field can make a huge difference to the artistic component of your photograph, so, a shallow depth of field (using a large aperture) will isolate your subject and create a beautiful blur in front of and behind your main subject. A deep depth of field (using a small aperture) will bring out all the details of a magnificent landscape.
What camera settings and other factors do I need to think about?
1. Aperture – By far the biggest factor in determining the look of your image using depth of field is by changing your aperture.
Large aperture = Small f-number (eg f2.8, f4) = Shallow depth of field= lots of bluraround the subject– suits portraits, artistic images and used to isolate subjects.
Small aperture = Large f-number (eg f11, f16) = Deep depth of field = sharpness in the image from back to front – suits landscapes and detailed scenes.
2. The distance between the camera & the subject.
The closer your subject is to the camera, the shallower your depth of field becomes (more blur.) So move in up-close and personal when photographing a flower and you’ll get a shallow depth of field (more blur.) Take 10 steps backward and you’ll have a deeper depth of field (less blur.)
3. The distance the subject is from the background.
When you photograph a subject (eg a person) close to a background – the deeper the depth of field will be and therefore less blur (think a person leaning on a fence.) Ask the person to walk 10 steps toward you and you will immediately create a shallow depth of field and therefore more blur behind the subject. In this case the person would be sharp and the fence behind would be blurred.
4. Focal length.
When you want a shallow depth of field and lots of blur, zoom right in with your telephoto lens. For even more blur, walk in closer towards your subject 🙂
Putting it all together
Depth of field is an essential skill to really know all about – it is the key to more creative images 🙂 that will really improve your images. Experiment with depth of field. Grab your tripod and set up an object or scene (just like my pencil and hammer photos – scroll back up to the top.) Take the same scene using 4 or 5 different apertures and study the results. Also experiment by photographing closer/further from your subject and by using a zoom lens. If you have any questions, please comment below.