Depth of Field

Photographers have many tools to create striking, creative images. Often the photographer creates art by choosing what is in the photograph; a strong composition without clutter and with its subject properly placed and in the right light.

Sometimes the art lies in the settings (aperture, shutter speed, iso) of the camera or the type of lens used.  One of the most compelling choices the camera controls is depth of field, or how much, and what part of, the image is in focus.

Technically, depth of field is a function of aperture, the length of the lens and the distance between the camera and the subject. An excellent article on the technical side of depth of field (often abbreviated DOF) is here.

Of course, the photographer never has absolute control of depth of field. An image taken with a ultra-wide angle lens is virtually all in sharp focus. Photos taken with a macro lens, however, will have an extremely shallow DOF regardless of what the photographer would like. A shot taken with a normal lens (35-55mm) in very bright light may require a very small aperture resulting in a wide depth of field, while an image taken with the same lens in near darkness may result in a narrow depth of field at regular shutter settings.

This post is not about the technical side, however, but rather how the artistic effects DOF allows are used by photographers. The link below will take you to an annotated Flickr Gallery with examples of the use of DOF in photography

Depth of Field


(As always) an example of shallow depth of field from me:

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