Understanding Depth of Field

If you’re trying to take your photography to another level by making your images see more interesting and powerful, one tool you need to have in your toolbox is the understanding of depth of field. The depth of field is easy to understand as a concept and simple to use. In fact, even a novice photographer can begin using depth of field immediately. It’s likely you have been using depth of field in your photography already without realizing it.

Perhaps you are wondering what depth of field actually is. Well, in the most basic sense, it simply refers to how much of your scene is in focus.

Imagine yourself out in nature wanting to photograph a gorgeous landscape. You want your photograph to encompass the entire scene. To do so, you will want your depth of field to the so both your foreground and background will be in focus.

Now, imagine yourself walking around a busy city. You are wanting to capture individual pictures of the animals around you without the background to distract from your subject. To do this, you will want to use a shallow depth of field. That will allow your foreground to be in focus while the background is blurry. You won’t be capturing the bystanders, cars, and lawn sprinklers that will simply distract from your photo.

The depth of field is indicated on your camera by the f-stop or aperture. You should have a basic understanding of aperture now that we have discussed in an earlier article. When you use a wide aperture, the depth of field is shallow. Using a more narrow aperture, the depth of field is deeper.

When you are using a small depth of field, your focus area will be smaller. That focal point can be anywhere within your image. You can choose to have your focal point in the foreground, middle ground, or background. When using a small aperture, you can get as detailed as taking a photo where your subject’s eyes are focused but their ears and nose are blurry.

Try playing around with your aperture on your camera to see how adjusting it affects your photos.