depth of field cheat sheet

Photography: What influences your depth of field?

The term “depth of field” describes how much of your photo is sharp and how much is not. A “deep depth of field” generally means that most of your picture is sharp, a “shallow depth of field” lets parts of your image – e.g. the background – appear blurred. Landscape pictures most of the time look great if you have a deep depth of field, portraits (of people and animals) benefit from a shallow depth of field: The background appears blurry and the viewer’s attention is focused on the main object of the image, e.g. groom and bride on a wedding picture. These are the ways to influence the depth of field:

  • Aperture: Have a big aperture (which means: a small f.) decreases your depth of field. Therefore, a big aperture (small f.) is great for portraits, but less good for pictures of landscapes. Don’t forget that you need to adapt shutter speed or your ISO if you change the aperture and want to keep the exposure at the same level. If you decrease your aperture, you’ll need a longer shutter speed – a tripod is a useful gadget here. You can change your aperture the best if you set the mode to aperture priority (A) or to manual mode (M).
  • Focal length: Increasing the focal length – “zooming in” – decreases the depth of field. So, you should avoid zooming in when it comes to landscape photography.
  • Focus distance: How far is your object away from your camera? Getting closer to your object will decrease your depth of field, while standing far away from the point on which you focus will increase your depth of field.

You can find more information on the topic via this link or use the cheat sheet above for orientation.

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