Weekly theme 19th November 2018 - Using depth of field creatively

(Helen Hooker) #1

Hello everyone, I hope you’re having a great start to the week.

We’re back to a technique based theme for the coming week, so let’s jump straight in and give you some inspiration…

This week’s theme is Using depth of field creatively

Depth of field is an enormously powerful tool in photography. By choosing the aperture you shoot at, you can control how the viewer looks at your pictures, and which elements of the scene they focus on. Let’s take a quick look at the concepts before I show you some images.

The term ‘depth of field’ refers to the portion of a photo which is sharply in focus. This is controlled largely by the aperture you use. Shooting with a small aperture (large f number, e.g. f16) will ensure a large part of your photo is in focus. In contrast, a large aperture (small f number, e.g. f2.8) allows only a small part of the scene to be sharply in focus. Here’s an example I use for my photography workshops to demonstrate this:

In the top picture, the large aperture blurs the background so it’s obvious you should be focusing on the leaves in the foreground. In the lower picture, there’s much less separation between foreground and background, making it much harder to distinguish where you should be looking.

If this concept is new to you, I recommend you take a look at this great article by @canon6d, where Ram explains things beautifully.

So, how could you use this technique to shoot for the theme? Well, you have a choice to make - what result are you after? Landscape photographers often use a small aperture to ensure as much of the landscape as possible is sharply in focus. This means your viewer can take their time to explore all the details in your picture.

In this picture by Click and Learn Photography, taken in the beautiful Cumbrian landscape, an aperture of f16 has been used to ensure all of the scene is sharp. This allows us to work our way through the image, taking in all the glorious colours and shapes.

A genre where photographers often go to the opposite extreme is portrait photography. Here it is important to show you want all the focus to be on your model. In this portrait Henri Meilhac has shot at f5.6, allowing the background to blur, focusing our attention on the model. F5.6 may not be an especially large aperture, but it’s big enough to create some differential focus and guide us as a viewer.

Sometimes I’ll use depth of field when I’m shooting street photography, to help tell a story. In this image, which I’ve titled ‘The Outsider’, I’ve shot at f2.8. This ensures the youth in the foreground is sharp. The gang in the background are blurred, but not so much so as to make them unrecognisable. To me it helps give the young man a feeling of isolation.

Your task is to go out and use depth of field to tell a story. It could be you want maximum depth in your pictures, or you could use a really shallow depth of field to really show what’s important in your image - the choice is yours.

Then all you have to do is share your picture here and tell us why you chose to shoot it as you did! Don’t be afraid to experiment with different apertures - you may find you like the effect of a particular aperture in whatever you’re shooting - have fun!

How to participate:

  • Please submit your photo by midnight GMT on Sunday 25th November
  • To submit a photo, hit the Reply button below and upload your image(s). Please limit each post to one image.
  • Please try to also share your picture on your page over the main Photoblog platform and encourage others to visit the theme thread to participate and vote.
  • To vote, click the :heart: heart icon.
  • If you post your picture early in the week don’t forget to pop back to see what others have shared and to cast your votes!

Winners of the last theme

I’m delighted to say we have a new winner for last week’s ‘changing seasons’ theme, and that is @jonrake. Welcome to the Weekly Theme Jon and congratulations on winning with your beautiful landscape image!

(Berckmans Peter) #2

The camera in front had to be out of focus. DOF is very shallow in this photo, used it here to draw the attention to the name of the camera inside the lens.

(Arleta) #3

(Giancarlo Fosci) #4

Countryside of Italy

(Russell Smith) #5

Even though this is shot at f-8 I knew from previous experience that the dof would be about perfect for what I wanted . Not having a macro lens to get this framing I have to be close to the front muffin . This will narrow the DoF quite a lot . I also knew I did not want to drop down to say f-4 or f-2.8 this is based off experience and a couple of test shots to cure the what if’s in my mind .

(Kenny H) #6

Trying to focus on the storm trooper in the background, his friend spun around, and caught me.
Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade.

(Pete) #7

Taken at f/6.3 400mm. Using exposure and shallow DOF to isolate the dragonfly from it’s very busy surroundings.

(D Vgz) #8

Yes, I know … we’re a bit early with our Christmas decorations :wink: However, I was able to make this shot with a small DOF :slight_smile:

(Lakshmi Bhat) #9

(Bethany Plonski) #10