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Understanding Depth of Field

A guide to mastering depth of field in photography!

understanding depth of field

Understanding depth of field is a crucial part of learning to take better photos. It's one of the key things that shape the style and mood of a photo. Using your digital camera settings to set the depth of field will give you a lot more creative options when capturing different subjects.

Even when the camera is pointing at the same thing, a difference in depth of field can radically change the subject, feel and aesthetics of a shot. But what is the difference between a narrow depth of field and a large one? What factors produce the depth of field and which kinds of shots suit certain depths of field?


What is depth of field in photography?

understanding depth of fieldWhen you focus your camera on a specific subject you know that part of the photo is going to be sharp. But a certain amount of space surrounding the subject remains in sharp focus too. The size of this area is referred to as the depth of field.

The depth of field is not a clearly defined area, but merges gradually into the blur. The 'blur' outside the sharp depth of field area is sometimes called 'bokeh'.

Bokeh can often look very cool and is an important part of a photo in itself (e.g. bright city lights that become big, round, colourful dots), even though it is out of focus.


Understanding depth of field: What factors determine it?

The key to understanding depth of field is to know what causes some photos to have a narrow depth of field and some to have a large one. Then you can start controlling the appearance of your shots with ease!


Understanding depth of field: When to use the different options?

First up, the whole point of depth of field is that it gives you more creative freedom when taking pictures. So there are certainly no rules about when to use a shallow depth of field and when to use a large one. But here are some thoughts to get the ball rolling:

Understanding depth of field is really simple, but it will go a long way to helping you control the feel of your shots! If you have any questions about depth of field, don't hesitate to get in touch and ask me!

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