Adventures in Photography Class – Ep. 4: Depth of Field

Oh, hey there. Happy day of humps (aka Wednesday). Hope you’re enjoying this gloomy weather. I’m just here, laying in my bed killing time. So I figured, while I procrastinate for a bit on doing my homework, I’d post another daily assignment from my photography class. Today’s lesson is about depth of field:

Depth of field is another one of those really basic photo concepts that I don’t really think about because it’s something that I naturally use. In fact, any person who takes a photo uses depth of field in some capacity whether they know it or not. But I guess I should explain what it is exactly. Let’s turn to the great Wiki for a concise definition: depth of field (DOF) “is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image.” Basically, it’s what causes your foreground and background to be blurred or not.

Shallow Depth of Field

A shallow depth of field stems from having a large aperture (or adequate placement of the subject) that produces a blurred background/foreground. You can see what I mean in the picture of Felicita below:

Depth of Field 1

Notice how when you look at this photo, Felicita is in focus. The background, however, is not sharp because of the wide aperture as well as the distance between Feli and the trees themselves.

Great Depth of Field

The opposite would be a great (or deep) depth of field, achieved with a smaller aperture, in which everything is sharp including the background. (Forgive the giant purple spot on the photo…sometimes lens glare isn’t as cool as it can be.)

Depth of Field 2

Both Felicita and the trees are sharp/in focus (actually, Feli isn’t as sharp as I’d like her to be, but that’s ok). The concept of depth of field is used throughout photography to establish different moods and achieve various effects. For instance, a shallow depth of field is used when making a bokeh effect with lights while greater depths of field allow the viewer to see more details occurring in the fore/backgrounds of a scene.

It’s an interesting technique that we don’t really think about when just snapping photos, or at least, I know I don’t particularly think about depth of field when I shoot. I mean, in some cases I do depending on the type of shot I’m after. During times when I’m being more artistic or wanting to avoid the eye noticing things in the background, I am much more conscious about depth of field, but in general, it’s of little to no concern to me even though it’s something I use every time I turn on a camera. Eventually, depth of field just becomes second nature to a photographer and we just do it.

Well, I guess I’ll go do my homework now. I told myself that I couldn’t watch things on Netflix until I did my reading for class tomorrow (I hate trying to be a good student sometimes). I’ve got some awesome new daily assignments to show you as well as some random shots from my experiments with these techniques. I must admit that I thoroughly enjoy getting to check out a Nikon SLR to use everyday. It just reaffirms my aspirations to buy one.

Oh, and before I go, check out my friend’s new blog: My Life is Too Average! My friend wants to remain “anonymous,” but I still told them that I’d share their blog because believe it or not, there is talent and humor in the life of small town Kentucky college kids. So if you ever want to know what it’s like to live our kind of life, head over and show your love either through the link above or on my blogroll. My friend is just getting started, but there’s plenty of potential.

I’m off to do my homework now. Have a great night!

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