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How to Get a Shallow Depth of Field to Your Photos!

In other posts, you’ve read about aperture (opening in the lens that lets light pass into the camera body) and how that affects exposure. Hopefully, after several experiments, you now have a feel of how aperture works. While fidgeting with your camera’s aperture, you probably discovered (accidentally or on purpose) its side effect on your photo, namely, defining the scene’s depth of field. Armed with this information, you can move beyond your camera’s automated settings and take more creative images by learning how to get shallow depth of field to your photos.

One of the things that makes photography interesting is that you as the photographer, have control over the size of the depth of field.

Fine, but what is it?

“Depth of field is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appears acceptable sharp in an image.”

All the other areas outside of the depth of field will look blurred. It’s usually used to highlight the main focus of your photo. With a little fiddling, you can make the depth of field larger or smaller. How?

There are three primary factors that determine how much or how little depth of field you are working with:

  • Distance to subject: The rule is simple – if you want a shallow depth of field, focus on a nearby object, and for greater depth, on faraway ones. The closer you are focused to your subject, the shallower your depth of field will be.
  • Alternatively use a lower f-stop (wider aperture). The smaller number gives shallower depth of field, while the larger ones will result in bigger depth of field.
  • Focal length: Telephoto lens produce shallower depth of field than the other types of lenses. This is why many wedding and portrait photographers like to use longer focal length lenses (like the 70-200mm) as they create wonderful bokeh (smooth out-of-focus areas of the photo).

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Depth of field preview?

Did you know that you can you see how the image would look (how much depth of field you have) even before you snap the picture? It depends on the your camera. Many manufacturers now put a depth of field preview on their cameras somewhere in the front, usually near the lens mount. After focusing on your subject, press the preview button to check the image that you will create. Pretty cool!

By understanding the concept of depth of field, you can create stunning images that showcase exactly what you are looking to showcase.  But if you are looking for a stunning portrait that “pops” right off the screen…now you know how to best accomplish that look!

Chat soon!
Cole