This is the first short tutorial in a series of posts aimed at helping you to understand your camera better, getting more control over your photos and getting off the auto mode.
I will try to make these as simple as possible, should you wish to try to do some of these techniques every tutorial finishes with exercises you can do at home with minimal equipment.
You will need a minimum of either a professional or high-end compact, a mirrorless or DSLR camera.
Dictionary.com describes depth of field as follows:
the range of distances along the axis of an optical instrument, usually a camera lens, through which an object will produce a relatively distinct image
In simpler terms, depth of field describes the distance of what is in focus in a single photo and is also a creative technique to bring attention to a subject or subjects in a photo.
There are three main factors that affect depth of field, these are namely Aperture, Focal Distance and the Lens, I will be discussing all 3 in this post.
The focus point, focus distance, and lenses have not changed for any of the photos above, all the changes are in camera using the aperture setting.
There is far more to controlling depth of field then aperture, these factors are just as important to remember when trying to shoot creatively.
The closer you are to the subject the shorter the depth of field, inversely the further you are from the subject the wider the depth of field as demonstrated below.
Have you noticed that a shallow (or short) depth of field can be achieved at f/5.6? Most kit lenses are in the 18 to 50mm and f/3.5 to 5.6 ranges, making it possible to get photographs like these with an inexpensive kit.
As the lens length increases so does the the compression effect, which will be discussed in a later post, but more importantly both the focus distance and thus the depth of field shrinks, I will not go into the science of it, just know that it is true.
Bokeh is the patterns created by the diaphragm blades and higher the aperture, or the lower the f-stop, the more pronounced the Bokeh in the blurred sections of the photograph as shown below.
Bokeh may look a lot like lens flare, it is not as it is usualy done on purpose but it can happen accidentally and is something to watch out for. Bokeh is a subject on it’s own and will be discussed in a later post.[toggle title_open=”Practice Exercise” title_closed=”Practice Exercise” hide=”yes” border=”yes” style=”default” excerpt_length=”0″ read_more_text=”Read More” read_less_text=”Read Less” include_excerpt_html=”no”] Take 3 to 5 glasses, champagne glasses, add sparkling water for more interesting photos, put then in a line and separate them by about 10cm on a flat surface like your dinning table.
If you have a support for your camera like a tripod, mount and frame the glasses at a slight horizontal angle from the straight line you created with the glasses so you can see all the glasses, if not just frame manually as explained. You ideally need to have something to support your camera, a sturdy box will do.
Tip: If you are using water, make sure it is room temperature, if it is cold the glass may condense and mist up.
Set your camera to Aperture Mode (Av on Canon, A on Nikon) set it to the lowest f number available, for most 18-55mm kit lens would be between 3.5 and 5.6 depending on your zoom setting.
In the aperture mode all other settings will be automatic, I shoot 80% of the time in aperture Mode.
I recommend the longest zoom setting, for example 55mm and f/5.6 and getting as close as possible.
You should get something like this:
From here, raise the aperture (f number) to 8,11,16,22,etc and see the results, then go back to 5.6 (or lower if available) and move towards your subject and away from your subject shoot each scenario.
Tip: You may find it easier to focus manually using the live view function of your camera.
Last tip: Read the manual to find the functions mentioned in this exercise, if you still battle leave me a note.