Why depth of field is important
I’ve touched on depth of field before on my blog, but I wanted to show you today with a pretty strong visual. I think it is one of the most important things to understand in photography. It’s also one of those things you don’t realize that’s happening, but it is. In this photo below I have just a shot of my bike. Nothing out of the ordinary, but a decent shot.
Now while this may just look like a normal shot, check this out. I shot this at a depth of field of f1.4 with my 50mm prime. You don’t really notice a difference that shallow depth of field can make until you see the same basic shot at f9.0, below. The difference is pretty huge, and can make a normal looking image really good or really bad. In the first image you see that the bike is in focus, and everything else is out. This forces the eye to go right to the subject. In the second image, you see everything in focus and you don’t know where your eyes should be focusing. The implications of this are quite important to the world of people photography. Think about this: if you are wanting to shoot a couple in a beautiful setting with large trees or mountains in the background, you would choose an “f” stop of maybe 8.0 to capture most of the scenery. However, if you want to capture the couple without anything “showing up” in the background, you would chose a “f” stop of around 1.4-2.8 so they are in focus and most everything else is “out”.
This type of shooting is good to know for any kind of product or detail photography as well. Look at this image below. It looks as though someone just snapped a picture with their phone camera and didn’t give it much thought at all. Nothing really pops into view.
Now this second shot really looks like something. I was obviously trying to accentuate the pedal of the bike as the focal point and reason for the image. Look at any product photography and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Many people will use depth of field to their advantage when they don’t have an appealing background to work with.
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