Photo Tip Monday: Depth of Field
Happy Monday and the first official day of Spring Fever Week on my Facebook page. For those who aren’t familiar with Spring Fever Week, it’s a week where I focus on spring! All my posts are spring related, I only post spring-like pictures, and I offer discounts and host contests. As a blog reader, I will give you a sneak peak at what’s to come for Spring Fever Week!
Monday: That’s today! Blog post - Talking about Depth of Field...perfect for taking picture of those spring flowers, butterflies, and more!
Tuesday: I will be sharing the schedule of the rest of the week...information that you are learning NOW!
Wednesday: My website’s 4th birthday! My little website is growing up so fast. Tear. Anyway, I am offering a 30% off your entire purchase. The fine print is that it won’t include shipping and/or tax. Not because I’m mean, because the website doesn't work like that. I’m sorry. I didn't make the rules.
Thursday: One of my favorite things to do, a caption contest! The prize? A $50.00 gift certificate code for anything on my website. Yes, this one. The one you’re on RIGHT NOW. Since you’re getting top secret information that won’t be officially released until tomorrow, you can start planning on what you would spend that $50.00 on. After you finish reading this post, of course.
Friday: Announcing the winner of the caption contest. Maybe I’ll throw in a couple spring pictures randomly. It is Spring Fever Week after all.
Saturday: Last day of Spring Fever Week. A spring related quote of the week. I really like the quote of the weeks. That really had nothing to do with the schedule, just thought I’d throw it out there.
Anyway, I digress.
Today we will be talking about the ever-important photography term, depth of field.
Let’s start out with talking about what the heck that even means.
I briefly introduced depth-of-field in my last blog post on photography composition when talking about determining how much of your picture you want in focus. This is the general idea of depth of field. How much of your picture do you want in focus, or, more specifically, how much of your picture is in focus.
From there, depth of field breaks off into two categories: shallow depth of field and deep depth of field.
Shallow depth of field is where only one part of the picture is in focus. You will commonly see this with portraits and macro photography. An example of this is the picture below of a white anemone flower. Notice how the other flowers in the background are out of focus? Even the flower nearest to the flower in focus is blurry.
Here is another example:
Notice how the grass and other vegetation in the background is blurred. This eliminates any distraction from the subject, which is the cone flower and the bee.
Deep depth of field is where most if not all of the picture (the foreground, middle and background) are ALL in focus. You will see this commonly in landscape photography, or group photographs. An example of deep depth of field is the picture below of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Notice how everything in the picture is in focus?
Here is another example:
The leaf picture above, although a macro shot, can still be considered deep depth of field because the majority of the picture is in focus. The exception is a little bit around the edges.
I could have focused only on the leaf with the rain drops, but I really liked how the background (the grass) made the reds and yellows in the leaf pop. I also liked how the straight grass blades provided a contrast to the round rain drops on the leaf. Another photographer may have chosen to take the picture differently.
So why this this important? Like so many other things we have talked about, you, as the photographer, choose how much of the picture you want in focus, or how deep or shallow you want your depth of field to be. In the example of the anemone flower, I could have selected to make the flower next to it in focus as well. However, I really liked how the light was shining through the petals so I decided to keep that flower the main focus. Play around with your subjects to see what you like or don’t like. If there is a specific part of a picture that you want to be the main focal point, keep that in focus and blur the background of the rest of the shot, for example.
Is there something that could be distracting from the subject? Blur it out!
How do you do this? I'm going to give you a brief explanation.
When taking pictures, your camera probably has certain settings to help you control your depth of field. For example, if your camera has a setting for taking macro pictures (usually depicted by a flower symbol), that setting is designed for close-range shots to focus on the subject you are focusing on, and then blurring the background. If you have a landscape setting, it is designed to keep the majority or all of the picture in focus. If you shoot in auto, you are telling the camera to choose what it thinks is best for the situation.
Some cameras have a setting that either has an ‘A’ on it, or is called aperture control or something similar. Aperture is how you control depth of field if you are shooting in manual mode or aperture mode. If you are photographing in this mode, the camera allows you to choose the aperture (depth of field) and will dictate the other settings for you in order to balance the picture out. Aperture determines how much light your camera lens lets in to the film or light sensor. If you want to learn about aperture now, here is a great resource. I will cover be covering this topic in the near future!
This week’s takeaway:
-Depth of field determines how much of your picture is in focus
-Shallow depth of field means only a portion of your picture is in focus
-Deep depth of field means the majority/all of your picture is in focus
-You, as the photographer, determine how much of your picture you want in focus
Is depth-of-field a new topic for you? What modes on your camera do you photograph in? Have you played around with the aperture setting? I’d love to hear from you!
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