There are a lot of articles written on “depth of field”. It is the one thing, though, that takes you from being just a snapshot shooter to a serious photographer. It is the one subject you MUST learn to make your photos look more professional. And this is the one thing that most cell phone cameras cannot do, either. I have seen only one cell phone camera try to do, and even then, most of those who own that cell phone, less than 10 percent want to use that feature. So, this is a valuable piece of information that will help you to become THE PHOTOGRAPHER YOU WANT TO BE.
I have found a recent article that I like that I would like to share with you. I know I have written my own article about depth of field, and it is going in my new book coming out soon. It is kind of “technical”, But, I like how this person writes his article. So, for this blog, this time, I will share his article on Depth of Field:
Understanding depth of field is essential for any photographer who wants to move past the beginner stage. Using depth of field well gives you great control over the impact of your photos. For new photographers, depth of field can also be one of the most difficult elements to master.
Even when you break it down to the simplest terms, the relationship between aperture and depth of field can seem confusing. Whenever I teach a class or try to explain the manual settings on a friend’s camera, this is the topic we have to go over again and again. The good news is that with practice and concentration, the aperture/depth of field relationship will finally ‘click’ for you. The bad news is there is more to understanding depth of field than just using your aperture.
But let’s start at the beginning.
In simple terms, the depth of field is the area behind and in front of your main point of focus that is also acceptably in focus. So if you focus on a subject one meter away, you might look at your photo and find that everything from 0.9 to 1.2 meters is in focus. In this case, your depth of field is 0.3 meters (30 centimeters).
The very first thing a new photographer learns about depth of field is that it is controlled by the aperture on the lens. Very simply, a smaller aperture (larger f-stop number) creates a larger depth of field, and a larger aperture (smaller f-stop number) creates a narrower depth of field.
So if we go back to our previous example, let’s say the 30cm depth of field was captured with an aperture of f/8. You could narrow the depth of field considerably by adjusting the aperture to f/2.8, a much wider setting.
Sound confusing? If this is your first time working with depth of field, don’t worry. Go outside right now and take some shots just as I have described, and you should be able to see the results right away.
So if it is that simple, why do so many people struggle with depth of field? As I wrote earlier, there is more to depth of field than just the aperture.
Depth of field is also affected by how close the subject appears in your photo. That means either how close you are to the subject, or how much you magnify or reduce the subject using different lenses.
The closer you are to your subject, or the closer you make the subject appear by zooming in with your lens, the smaller the depth of field becomes. Let’s say you are photographing a person five meters away. At this distance, a standard or wide-angle lens will not only show a lot of background, but the wide depth of field could make the background quite distracting. However, if you walk much closer to the subject and re-focus, the depth of field will become much smaller. As a result, the well-focused person will stand out clearly from a blurry background. You can maximize the effect by opening the aperture to its widest setting.
Now imagine your subject is posing in front of a beautiful waterfall. If you stand close to the subject and photograph them with a wide aperture, you could get a great shot of the person, but the waterfall will be an out of focus blur. You could improve the situation slightly by closing the aperture a few stops. However, the most effective way to improve the depth of field is to stand a few meters farther back, and/or zoom back to a wider angle with your lens. Not only will more background be visible, it will also be sharper (thanks to the increased depth of field) than if you adjusted the aperture alone.
There you have a quick look at three factors than can make it easier to master depth of field: aperture, distance from the subject, and the length of the lens. Now go and try out these ideas at the next opportunity. Assuming you are using a digital camera, it won’t cost you anything and you can see the results right away. With practice and patience, you will get a ‘feel’ for depth of field, and how to use it to improve your photography.
About the Author:
Andrew Goodall writes for http://www.naturesimage.com.au and is a nature photographer based in Australia. He manages a gallery in Montville full of landscape photography from throughout Australia.
Here are some examples of the use of “depth of field”
Am I jumping the gun? I am writing this blog as it is snowing outside. YUK! But, I am also looking at the calendar. I have to be realistic and realize that the spring equinox is only about a month away. The changing of the sun coming up earlier and going down later is going to change rapidly in the next few weeks, and I’m excited.
I will confess that I am not a big fan of winter. If it snows, and snows right, it covers the trees and bushes and ground with a beautiful covering that makes winter absolutely beautiful, and I put on my winter garb and go out and take my usual take of good winter photos, I think.
But, I really don’t like being cold, and I don’t like putting on all the extra clothing and trying to protect my camera from all the snow falling on it’s lens, etc. So, now you know all my dislikes of winter.
But, when spring comes out, COLOR EVERYWHERE starts to happen! And a renewal of my spirits comes out. And the camera comes out a lot more as well. Close-ups of flowers, bugs, and the excitement of spring just gets me going and even the mix of winter and spring is amazing as well.
There are some really interesting photos that I like to do of when the early spring flowers come out, and when you get another snow storm or two. That is also amazing:
But, there are many tricks to remember in taking spring photos. I found this amazing article about taking photos in the spring. I would like to share that as well:
Spring is one of the best seasons for capturing the beauty of your natural surroundings. The flowers are in full bloom and the weather is just perfect – not too hot and not too cold. Perfect for practicing landscape photography.
For those who are still learning new skills, you can use certain techniques to ensure you get the best images. As with any type of photography, light is very important. Be particular about the light when you’re shooting outdoors. When it comes to the time of day to capture a dramatic scene, early morning and late afternoon or early evening are the best times. If you’re shooting in the morning, you can focus on the fog or mist. A great location to shoot is the woodland where you can make trees at a distance appear as if they’re fading in the background. This creates a sense of mystery in your photos.
Make use of the foreground as well and shoot using a wide angle lens. You might be surprised to know that this is one of the oldest techniques. The reason is that a wide angle lens creates a greater depth of field. In this aspect, you can actually use contrast between your subject and background.
Don’t forget to capture the beauty of flowers during this lovely season, after all, what can be more beautiful than photographing a bed of flowers? Keep in mind that it’s during this time when the daisies, bluebells and dandelions are showing their best asset, so find a good location such as a field or woodland. For closeup shots, use a macro lens.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your shots as well. For example you’re in a woodland and you’re wondering what angle to use to capture the tallness of the trees. The answer? Do a vertical shot. To do this, you just need to point your lens 90 degrees upwards to have that so-called converging verticals effect. When you shoot this way, the trees will appear as if they’re close together or converged. And you’re also creating a great mix of colors with the contrast of the green leaves of trees and the blue sky. Now, that is purely nature’s beauty.
Finally, be wary of the white light that may creep in when you’re capturing your subjects. Remember that it can become a distraction so if you can, do get rid of it by cropping right there and then. When you’re taking an image of trees for instance, it’s okay to crop the top portion to eliminate the sky. Or consider taking a few bracketed shots and combining them so both the sky and the trees are well exposed, but that is an advanced topic to discuss another day.
Take advantage of the spring season. It’s great for picture taking.
Let’s just take a look, now at some more great spring photos:
Idaho doesn’t get that much publicity here in the United States. It doesn’t have any huge, well known ski resorts, or big cities. But most people think of Idaho as a place next to Yellowstone, or on the way to Oregon, or, just a state you are passing through to somewhere else. But for those who live in Idaho, maybe they are glad you haven’t discovered some of their hiding spots, some of those magnificent, beautiful untouched, gorgeous spots of scenery yet. Some of the best fishing spots in the west, the places that rival all the other well known National Parks in the West. Maybe they just want to keep it quiet, and enjoy the beauty all to them selves.
Well, I wanted to take a moment and share with you that maybe you should stop and smell the roses. Idaho has some of the most beautiful scenic National Parks in the United States. And let’s take a look at just one of those spots right now:
Let’s get to some of the photos coming out of this amazing area:
So, Idaho is one beautiful place to go and visit, with just about every type of beauty on the earth to see. If you are thinking of going to Yellowstone, maybe you should consider this along the way. I don’t think you would be disappointed.