Depth of Field in Photography

Depth of field is still something of a mystery to some photographers. In this simple guide Dylan A Bennett unravels it’s complexity by showing in a simple diagrammatic form, the various aspects of this very important photographic effect:

So what is depth of field?

  • The area in focus, in front and behind the subject is the field.
  • The distance between the front and rear of focus is the depth of field.

How does the the depth of field change in relation to the way the light hits the sensor?

  • If the light is squeezed into a narrow beam we have greater depth of field.
  • If the light spreads out more we have less depth of field.
depth of field

Depth of Field Diagram

From the initial explanation of depth of field, Dylan shows us the three ways of controlling it.

  • Firstly by changing the distance between the camera and the subject.
  • Second by changing the focal length of the camera’s lens, a wide angled lens would have greater depth of field compared to a telephoto.
  • Finally, by changing the aperture we can alter the depth of field. A wide aperture such as 2.8 will have a narrower depth of field than a small aperture for example f11.

You can use any combination of these three techniques to produce the focus you require, be it a shallow depth of field for a portrait, or great depth of field in a landscape.

For further training: Shooting Shallow – Understanding Depth of Field

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