Assignment #5 -- DEPTH OF FIELD
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  1. #1
    3TailsWaggin's Avatar
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    DefaultAssignment #5 -- DEPTH OF FIELD

    DEPTH OF FIELD (often abbreviated as -- DOF)

    (this assignment will be due next Tuesday, February 20, by noon EST).

    What is Depth of Field? To explain it in the easiest terms, depth of field is the focused area in front of and behind your main subject in a photo. You often hear the terms “shallow depth-of-field” and “broad depth-of-field”. A shallow DOF occurs when your main subject is in focus, but the area behind and in front of it are blurred. Whereas, a broad DOF is where the main subject and everything else in the photo appear to be in focus.

    Most portraits or close up shots utilize the “shallow” DOF technique to bring the eye of the viewer right to the main subject by eliminating any background or foreground by blurring it. Landscape shots utilize a “broad” DOF, allowing the viewer’s eye to see the entire scene of your photo in focus.

    HOW DO WE CONTROL DOF?

    There are three criteria that help us, as photographers, to control the DOF.
    They are: Lens aperture. Distance from the subject. Focal length.

    THE LENS APERTURE -- is the size of the opening that allows light to go through the lens. This is what we refer to as f/stops. The smaller the f/stop (such as f/2.8) the LARGER the lens aperture or opening will be. This allows more light through your lens. The bigger the f/stop (say f/11) the SMALLER the lens opening will be, allowing less light to go through the lens. So, an f/stop of f/2.8 is a larger lens aperture (or opening) than an f/stop of f/11.
    A large aperture (say f/5.6 and lower) will give you a shallow DOF, and a small aperture (say f/11 and higher) gives you a broad DOF.
    If you want only the main subject to be sharply focused, and everything else to be out of focus -- such as a portrait with the background nicely blurred -- then you would "open up the aperture," i.e. use a large aperture. (f/5.6 or lower)
    If you want most of your picture to be in sharp focus, then you would "stop down the aperture," (use a smaller f/stop… f/11 or higher) to keep the image sharp.

    DISTANCE FROM THE MAIN SUBJECT -- When you focus on a subject close to the camera, the DOF is less than when you focus on the subject farther away from the camera. (Shallow DOF). Simply by moving closer to your subject you can create a shallow DOF. You can move close physically (walking closer to the subject) or by using a zoom or telephoto lens to get you closer to the subject. By standing farther away from your subject you will have a broader DOF (where more of the image will be in focus).

    FOCAL LENGTH –
    You can also increase the DOF (allowing everything to be in focus -- “broad DOF”), by using a wide-angle lens. OR, you can decrease the DOF (allowing the main subject to be focused and the area around it to be nicely blurred -- “shallow” DOF ) by using a long focal length lens.
    If you read up on DOF you will find that some of the discussions can get quite technical, but the point of this assignment is to make it as easy as possible for you to understand what it is and how to achieve results using it.

    Here are some examples of “Shallow DOF”…





    Here are some examples of “Broad” DOF…





    Your assignment is to post TWO pictures. You can take a picture of any subject you want. USE THE SAME SUBJECT FOR BOTH OF YOUR PICTURES. Shoot one utilizing the Shallow Depth-of-Field, and shoot it again using the Broad Depth-of-Field as in the example below.



    So, you ask, HOW DO I DO THIS?

    Point and Shoot Cameras --
    First, pick the subject you want to photograph. For those of you with the Point-and-Shoot cameras, choose the “portrait” setting to get a “shallow” DOF. Take a picture of your subject in the “portrait” setting. Next, choose the “landscape” setting on your camera. Take a picture of the same subject using the “landscape” setting. You should be able to see a difference in the depth of field in your two shots.

    DSLR Cameras (anyone who can change your settings to “manual” on the dial)
    First, pick the subject you want to photograph. For a “shallow” DOF you will need to set your aperture (f/stop) to f/5.6 or lower. How low you can go will depend on your lens. Some lens are rated at f/2.8. Some as low as f/1.8 If you do not have a lens on your camera rated lower than f/5.6 you CANNOT set the aperture lower, so don’t worry about it, set it as low as you can. You’ll notice when you set your aperature lower you will need to INCREASE your shutter speed to get correct exposure. Remember that the smaller the f/stop # the LARGER the lens opens allowing more light in. The more light you have the FASTER you need your shutter speed to be or you will over-expose the photo. Use your built in light meter to determine your shutter speed. Check your camera’s manual to locate your built in light meter. Most of them are inside the viewfinder or on the LCD display. It will look like a bar with lines on it with a 0 in the middle and a – on one side and + on the other. You want to adjust your shutter speed so that you are on or near the 0 in the middle. I am assuming you can manually adjust your shutter and aperture controls. If you can’t READ YOUR MANUAL so that you learn how.

    Once you have your “shallow” DOF shot, you will “step down” or INCREASE your f/stop to at least f/11 or higher. (Use your same subject for this picture so you can see the difference in the end result). You will notice that when you increase your f/stop (aperture) your shutter speed will need to be LOWERED. Again, think it through. The higher the f/stop the SMALLER the lens opens, allowing in LESS light… so you need to use a SLOWER shutter speed to get a proper exposure. If your shutter speed gets down below 1/60 of a second, you either need to steady your camera on something or use a tripod OR drop the aperature down a step to allow the lens to open a bit wider (and then adjust your shutter speed accordingly).

    You will post TWO pictures of the exact same subject, one shot at a shallow DOF and the other at a broad DOF.


    Example of what you need to post for this assignment:

    Shallow Depth of Field
    "Pampas Grass"
    ISO 200
    f/4
    1/1600 shutter speed



    Broad Depth of Field
    "Pampas Grass"
    ISO 200
    f/20
    1/60 shutter speed


    I know this all sound confusing. I hope it will begin to make sense as you start doing some practice shots for this assignment. If you have any questions ASK and we will help you.



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  3. #2
    chocco_23 Guest

    DefaultRe: Assignment #5 -- DEPTH OF FIELD

    I know this is going to be a basic sum up of DOF compared to your big explanation (really good by the way, it explains it perfectly) but DOF is just how things are in focus, like in shallow DOF the main subject is in focus but the background is blurred. And Broad Depth of Field is when everything is in focus?

    Just trying to get a general sum up.

    Also, thank you so much for seting up this course, it has already helped me a lot, i know things now i didn't know before, I just hope my pictures are getting better :-\

  4. #3
    3TailsWaggin's Avatar
    3TailsWaggin is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Assignment #5 -- DEPTH OF FIELD

    Yes, you have summed it up perfectly.

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  6. #4
    chocco_23 Guest

    DefaultRe: Assignment #5 -- DEPTH OF FIELD

    Thanks!! ;D
    It's kinda hard to take it all in when it is detailed like that lol ;D

  7. #5
    Buddysmom's Avatar
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    DefaultRe: Assignment #5 -- DEPTH OF FIELD

    P&S people. It is really hard to get good, shallow DOF with a P&S camera. To take the most advantage of your camera's limitations in this respect, keep your subject about 10 feet from the background and get as close to your subject as possible. Really fill the frame with your subject. You may not see very much blurring at all.


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    lablover is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Assignment #5 -- DEPTH OF FIELD

    I do not have a “portrait” setting on my Canon PowerShot S500. I do have macro for 2" to 1.5' then I have infinity. Any recommendations?

  9. #7
    Buddysmom's Avatar
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    DefaultRe: Assignment #5 -- DEPTH OF FIELD

    You can try using the macro setting. This should blur the background. You may just have to follow Linda's dSLR directions. Your camera doesn't have automatic modes except for AE.


    Eiderdowns That's My Buddy
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    Marley is offline Member
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    DefaultRe: Assignment #5 -- DEPTH OF FIELD

    also, those of us shooting Canon DSLR (I think there are a few of us!) may have the depth of field preview button at our fingertips as well.

    From my 20d Manual:

    "Press the DOFP button to stop down to the current aperture setting. the diaphragm in the lens will be set to the current aperture so you can check the depth of field range (range of acceptable focus) through the viewfinder"

    Gonna go play with it now

  11. #9
    Buddysmom's Avatar
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    DefaultRe: Assignment #5 -- DEPTH OF FIELD

    Marley - I've found that button is easier said than done. Your shorter focal length lenses will give better DOF.


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  12. #10
    imported_Jimbo's Avatar
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    DefaultRe: Assignment #5 -- DEPTH OF FIELD

    I found this Depth of Field Calculator which might be helpful...

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