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LESSON 4 - Depth of Field Tutorial, Part 1
Article by Stephen J. Kristof
© 2010, all rights reserved
"Why is it that in some photographs, objects both close to and far from the lens are both in relatively clear focus, while in other photos, only things in the foreground or the background are in focus, but not both? What is this effect and how does a photographer manipulate this?"
Looking at the two images above, it's clear to see that in one of them, not all is clear! O.K., let's put aside the puns and get a better sense of what is going on here. The effect has something to do with "Depth of Field". Some photographers refer to this as "depth of focus", but the proper term is, again, depth of field. Here's a definition you that's fairly easy to understand.
Depth of Field refers to the chunk of space bewteen the lens and infinity in an image that is acceptably clear.
Another way of putting this is as follows:
Imagine drawing an arrow that begins at the lens and continues as far as it can go in the same direction toward which the lens is pointed. The part of that arrow that corresponds to the focused part of the image is the depth of field. Another common way that photographers refer to depth of field is a photo's "field of focus".
SHORT Depth of Field refers to a narrow field of view that is in focus. When objects in the foreground, mid-ground OR background are exclusively in focus, this is referred to as short depth of field. This is most often used in portraiture, in which the photographer wishes to focus attention on the portait subject by showing landscapes, buildings and/or other objects in the background as a blur.
LONG Depth of Field, by contrast, refers to a wide field of view that is in focus. With long depth of field, objects are in focus both the foreground and mid-ground, or in the mid-ground as well as background, or even from the foreground all the way through to the background...all are in focus!
Below are some examples of both Short and Long Depth of Field. Notice how in some of the images, long depth of field emphasizes the sense of "flatness" in terms of perspective. Also notice how the short depth of field helps the viewer to place more attention on a single element by way of selective focus.
"OK, now I understand WHAT Depth of Field is all about...but HOW do I get Short or Long Depth of Field?
Click the picture to the left to get to our next part of this lesson! Pro's use these camera techniques every day and so can you. Some of the ways to change your depth of field have to do with camera settings, while others have to do with the lens, your distance from your subject and more.
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