What's Depth of Field, anyway?

Dear Picture Taker, 

Do you wonder what makes a picture unfocused in the front of the subject, unfocused in the back of your subject and the subject stays focused OR when the front, subject, and back of subject are all in focus? We control this using DEPTH OF FIELD (DOF). It took me a long time to understand what this meant and how to do it. To get everything in focus is referred to as great DOF or long DOF. To create the unfocused areas are called shallow DOF or short DOF. How much of this you can do on your point and shoot, don't fret. It may do the some shallow and great DOF on its own. But if you have a DSLR and want more control of DOF, you'll need to experiment with taking your settings off auto. Be brave and turn the dial to manual and practice using your DLSR that has a shutter speed dial, Aperture and ISO dial. I will give you the courage to do so. You will gain more of an understanding the more you use your camera using these settings and take notes of what you did and the results. This is what I did and sometimes I'm still off on what DOF I want to achieve.  You can do this...

To Practice DOF:

 You'll need a tripod and 5 objects to line up. I used 5 mugs.  Not directly behind each other. Your flash on your camera may pop up and this is ok. Put your camera on the tripod and line up your camera low enough to capture the front object and can see the other objects

The only number you change between shots is the Fstop. You can take a picture at every Fstop number if you want. I skipped one of two in-between. 

 First: Turn dial to M for Manual

Second: Turn your shutter speed dial to 200

Third: Adjust your ISO to 200

 Start with 5.6

Fstop at 5.6, Shutter Speed 200, ISO 200 Shallow DOF/Short DOF

 FSTOP 7.1









FSTOP 16 Great DOF/Long DOF 


What I would like you to notice is the yellow cup with FRIENDS written on it and the turtle picture I put on the very back of the line up. Watch how the word FRIENDS becomes focused to read and the turtle becomes better focused at fstop 16.  You may need to look at these examples many times to see how my mugs become sharper as the fstop number gets larger.  To understand your lens opening called FSTOP or APERTURE  from 1.8 or 1.4 and larger, I provided a link below. A short video demonstration of aperture. I could tell you the same thing but I'd give you a lot of jibber jabber and I'd probably lose you and you'd say next... and move on to something else. I wouldn't blame you.

I will bring Shutter SPEED and ISO into the picture soon. But wanted to start with fstop first. Any questions, please give me the feedback. I'm here to give you control over your camera should you want to make a break from your setting of auto. There is a time for both however.

1, 2, 3, Hi,


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