What is Depth of Field?

3 Dec

To understand Depth of Field (DOF) you first have to understand Aperture which was covered previously here. If you remember – the aperture size directly impacts the DOF. The first article in the series can be found here.

Let’s imagine that you look out the kitchen window. There is Timmy, Jane and Rover playing in the backyard. Each is at different distance from you but you want each of them to be in focus. You grab your camera and select a small aperture (large number). You snap the picture and all three are crisp, clear and in focus. This is called a great or high depth of field.

You glance over at Jane and now she is sitting sweetly reading Winnie the Pooh to her teddy bear. You want the focus to be on Jane so you select a wide or large aperture (small number), point the camera at Jane, focus and snap the picture. Timmy and Rover are there but they are blurred. Jane and teddy is the star of the picture. This is called a shallow or low depth of field.

A small aperture would be great for large group pictures where everyone is a different distance from the camera as well as landscapes. A wide/large aperture makes beautiful individual or small family portraits.

Other factors that influence depth of field are distance and focal length. We will discuss this once we get the basics down.

Got it? Let’s try it and let me know if you have questions or need a little assistance! This exercise is very similar to the aperture exercise.

traci-marie Rogers
traci-marie Photography

Try It Exercise:

1) Set your camera to Aperture Priority Mode. You will be able to select the aperture to use and the camera will select the shutter speed
2) Find a stationary well lit object that you want to photograph (something near a window or under shade)
Focus in the same exact spot for the following steps:
3) Set your aperture to f/2.8 (large aperture) and snap a picture (if you do not have this aperture then select f/3.5)
4) Set your aperture to f/8 (medium aperture) and snap the same picture
5) Set your aperture to f/22 (small aperture) and snap the same picture
6) Look through each image to view the difference between each. Notice what is in focus between each.

Glossary for this lesson:

Aperture: an opening, such as a hole or slit; in a camera, a circular opening that limits the amount of light that can enter and expose the film.

Depth of Field: The amount of your image that is in focus.

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