Depth of field

Depth of field is one of the areas that I find people always are asking about. It is also one of the BIG areas that photographers struggle with. When I am printing photos at my photolab images that use the correct aperture are the ones that stand out as being great pictures!

Depth of filed is controlled by the cameras aperture.

Here is a short article and a couple pictures to help you understand it a little better.

By understanding the concept it will help you get more interesting prints. If you are selling your photos you will sell more and attract more clients then those that don’t understand what it does to the overall look of an image.

At the bottom of the article is a link to my Youtube channel covering this off in a video.

The lower/smaller the aperture

The smaller the number that you use for the aperture, the shorter/narrower the depth of field.  In the first picture I am using an aperture of f5.6. 

Notice how the subject (the fence & wire) are sharp and the background is out of focus? Great to blur the background and to focus a viewers attention on a model, bride, person or animal in the foreground.

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Blurry background, sharp foreground

Below I stood in the same spot but I changed the aperture to F10. 

Notice how everything is in focus? This can be hard in a picture that the subject is not easy to identify.

More depth of field is good for groups of people or subjects that are not lined up in a perfect row. This way you can focus on one row and others will also be in focus.

Remember – This can also cause the picture to look confusing and busy as you do not know what the subject is. If not sure try both a wide and a narrow aperture till you get the idea of what pictures look best with each one.

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It can make or break an image!

Using a short/narrow depth of field allows the photographer to separate the subject from the background. In a busy scene like the above images, this allows you to see the subject much better.

You are not be bothered by the busy background.  If you really want the effect to be dramatic then you need to get a lens that goes down to F1.8 or F2. That way you will really see the effect.

Depth of field NOTE!!!

Having your focus a little off with a really short depth of field will show in your subject being out of focus. This can be a big problem. A blurry bride or groom. An out of focus Moose. With a short depth of field it will be noticeable!!

A longer depth of field can cover for bad focusing! NOT what you should be doing!!!! But if you have issues with getting your subject in sharp focus a short depth of field will show your bad focusing. As mentioned before if in doubt try both.

To learn more watch this video on my Youtube channel

Mike Paterson owns first choice photo, Lethbridge’s only locally owned photo lab and digital darkroom. Offering photo prints from wallets to wall size. Online print orders. Same day photo prints and quality professional photofinishing.

Photography workshops, online learning, Photo courses

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