Depth of field can make or break an image, it will effects the final aesthetic and mood of a photo. It directs where the eye should focus, creates the impression of depth or distance and is an essential technical skill to master to achieve the desired result you want. In class we reviewed the 3 things that effect depth of field
- Aperture Size – A smaller f-stop means a larger aperture and will create a shallower depth of field, meaning the background will be blurred out. The faster the lens the larger aperture you will be able to achieve (1.4) and the shallower a depth of field you can achieve. A narrow aperture (f11) will create a deep depth of field where everything is sharp and in focus.
- Camera Distance to Subject – If a subject is close to a background and you are close that to that subject both things are likely to be in focus, as you move away from the background but remain close to the subject, the background will become creamier while the subject remains in focus. Experimenting with different distances away from subject and background will create varying results and effects on the depth of field. Distance to to subject is useful when you are restrained by the focal length of the lens or if the lens is slower.
- Focal Length of Lens – The focal length of a lens is where the lens will focus at infinity, the shorter the lens the wider the angle will be but shorter the magnification. Macro lenses, for example, would capture a very shallow depth of field.
Examples of Dynamic DOF
Distance to Subject
Once finding the correct exposure, I experimented with the DOF by increasing my distance with the subject. When closer, it creates a shallow depth of field, the background is blurrier and draws the eye to the flower in the centre of the image. In the second image, keeping all settings the same I simply moved further away from the subject, still a shallow depth of field but more surrounding foliage comes into focus. The final image was my greatest distance away from the subject, the resulting effect is a deeper depth of field and the flower becomes less of the subject, the whole bush is in focus and our eye has a less direct path to follow. I prefer the shallowest depth of field (image one) aesthetically.
(focal length 55mm, f5.6, 1/200)
Here I experimented with moving subject away from background but keeping the camera’s settings the same. In the left image, the subject is close to the background and everything appears to be in focus and sharp, when the subject moves away from the wall it blurs and is out of focus. This is because I shot on f5.6, meaning it creates a shallow depth of field the as objects that are closer will be sharper and in focus, I believe the second photo makes for a more aesthetically pleasing portrait shot.
I wanted to take portraits of my subject in their workspace and experimented different aperture to create different moods for each image. The top image has a wider aperture of f5.6, the subject is sharp and in focus which demands the viewers attention while the background remains blurred, to me it suggests the subject is very focused on creating. In the second focus I’ve used a narrower aperture and changed my composition so I am further away from the subject. Now everything is sharper and in focus, the subject and the background and changes the tone of the photo, the photo now shows the relationship between writer and their work. I think this is a good demonstration of how DOP can change the mood and narrative of a photo but drawing and directing a viewers focus in a photography.
Hover over to see capture info.
Same distance to subject, same distance from background, same focal length all I did to change the depth of field was adjust the aperture from f5.6 to f16 and move the shutter speed and ISO to compensate for exposure. Result is shallow depth of field on left and deep depth of field on right.
Using a telephoto lens I experimented with different focal lengths, the longer the focal length the creamier the background became, at 55mm the background is more defined than it is at 200mm even though aperture remained the same.