Deep Thoughtson Depth of Field

Ah, depth of field. As photo history geeks, we feel certain in our knowledge that every photographer everywhere has asked the pivotal question: “Hold up, what the deuce is depth of field and why is it important?” Yes, the age-old question.

What is it?

Simply put, depth of field (DoF) is the area of your photograph that is sharp and clear.

While your camera can only focus in on a single point, in your final image the area just in front and behind of that single point will sometimes appear to be in focus as well. How much of your photo is in focus is the DoF of that image.

What is it good for?

A narrow DoF eliminates distractions from your subject and typically used in portrait, wildlife and sports photography. While a wide/deep DoF ensures clarity through the entire image, usually best for landscape, cityscapes and big ol’ group shots.

How can I control DoF?

Depth of field is controlled through focus and aperture settings (the f-stops.) So, if your camera has manual controls, making the aperture number smaller (moving toward toward f/1.4) gives you shallower DoF, and raising it up (toward f/22) will give you a deep DoF and make everything in your photo tack sharp.

Tell me more!

Check out this extremely detailed lesson from Digital Photography School for everything you ever wanted to know about DoF and how to use it to best capture your subjects.

Then, if you’re already picking up what we’re putting down, take your DoF play further by faking extremely shallow DoF (no expensive lenses required.)

So how deep does the rabbit hole go? Depends on your DoF!

DoF: Make it and Fake it
 

Photo by Bruce Wunderlich