For our 26 week project, my group is picking topics that correspond with the ABC’s. Each letter of my project represents a term or technique frequently used in photography.
D is for “Depth of Field”
Basically speaking, Depth of Field (DOF) refers to the plane of the picture that is in focus. There are ways to calculate specific depths of field, but I just want to touch on the basics for now.
One way to control the DOF is through aperture settings. The lower the aperture, the more wide open it is and the shallower the depth of field will be. For instance, if one shoots wide open at F 1.4, 1.8, etc. The only part of the picture in sharp focus will be where the focus point is placed. This works well when the photographer wants to bring attention to specific details (newborn features, for example). I like to shoot with low apertures to separate my subject from the background and create nice bokeh. Usually to ensure my subjects entire face is in focus I shoot around F 2-3. In addition, if more than one person is in the picture, and I want them all in focus they have to all be in a clear depth of field. If they are on the same plane, I can still shoot pretty low. However if one is in front of the other or their is a group from front to back, I have to close my aperture between F3-F6, to ensure that everyone is in focus.
Ok, enough talk. Here are a few examples:
In this series the depth of field starts small and opens up towards the end.
The aperture settings of each from top to bottom: F2.2, F4, F8, F16.
Notice that in the first image, the yellow truck is only thing that you can see (besides color). With each increase, the background becomes more clear. Depending on the vision of the photographer, a low aperture could lower the depth of field and hone in on the truck or a wide aperture could create interest by showing the boy playing in the background. If I planned this better, I would have done the latter removing the trash and recycle bins. Then again, this is our real life.
This is an example where I would choose a shallow depth of field to cut out the distracting background. At F16, the first picture has to much going on for my taste. The bottom picture is shot at F2 and brings my son into better focus.
No doubt I’ve only touched on the subject of DOF. For further study I recommend this very detailed Depth of Field article by toothwalker.org.
Now be sure to see what the rest of our group is doing with the letter D. Start with Liz; I love the way she captures authentic life.