Unfocused or Controlling Depth of Field?
Depth of field means how much of the image is in or out of focus. The depth of field is controlled by the aperture inside the lens. It is also controlled by where in the image you point your camera and make it your main focus point. Other important considerations are: <> How close the background is to your main subject. The further away the easier it is to blur the background. <> What lens you are using and how close you are standing to shoot your main subject. I can’t say it enough. It simply takes practice, but the results are worth it.
For the above image I used my Nikon D300 in manual mode with a 18mm-200 zoom lens, and the focal point at maximum zoom or at 200mm. I focus right in the middle of the cactus using f/10. Doing so made the foreground “unfocused,” the middle in focus, and the background out of focus. In most cases this not a great composition, but it all depends on the look you are after. I shot this for demonstration purposes. Depth of field or what you choose to bring in focus plays a big part in planning your image composition.
Shooting at Smaller F/Stop Numbers
Here’s a soft focus shallow depth of field image. I shot this in manual mode with my Nikon D300 using f/5.6. This makes the main subject dominant and the colorful background sightly out of focus. Doing so makes an attractive background but it does not distract or compete with the main subject. Often, I see great images that could be “picture perfect” if it was not shot in automatic mode which makes everything in focus. The challenge is to learn how to use your camera in manual mode or aperture priority where you set the f/stop and control what is or what is not in focus.
Shooting at Large F/Stop Numbers
This water fall was shot at “The Gorge” in Oregon using my Nikon D300 in manual mode with f/22. I wanted the maximum depth of field with everything in focus. Each lens varies as to what f/stop numbers are available.
Which F/Stop Do I Use?
You can only change your lens f/stop by making sure you are in manual mode or aperture priority. The easiest is to switch your camera from auto to aperture priority. Then, you can change the f/stops.
Just remember, think of f/stops by remembering the bigger the number (f/11, f/16, f/22, f/28, f/32) the bigger the amount of your image will be in focus. Smaller f/stops numbers (f/2.8, f/3.4, f/4.5) produce a smaller amount of your image that is in focus. Typically this mean you point your camera and focus on a flower or a person in the foreground and the background will be out of focus. You can vary the amount of out of focus background, but it simply takes practice by using different f/stops. Remember, each lens has different f/stops available.
Concluding and the Challenge
So, what is your shooting preference? Have everything in focus or go for having your main subject in focus and blur the background?
The challenge? Take a week and shoot in aperture priority. If you dare, learn how to operate and shoot your camera in manual mode.
Thank you for stopping by. Please contact me if you have any questions.