How to get shallow depth of field in-camera

21 April 2017 | Category: General News

How to get shallow depth of field in-camera


When you focus your lens on your intended subject you are also capturing part of the scene in front and behind of your focal point in clear focus as well. This zone of sharpness is what is called the depth of field, and once you understand how to control the size of your depth of field you are opening yourself up to a whole new world of creativity with your camera.

Depth of field can be very wide or very shallow, depending on the type of image you’re trying to create, and each has its advantages. For instance, landscape photographers often like to have the maximum depth of field in their images in order to render the entire scene sharp from the rocks in the foreground to the horizon in the distance.

Portrait photographers, however, typically look to restrict depth of field so that just their model is in focus and the background is blurred. This helps a subject stand out and make the background less distracting. Fine art photographers often employ this technique to draw more attention to their subjects and give an image atmosphere. Shallow depth of field so that only a small portion of a scene is in focus and a lot of it is blurred. 


How to get shallow depth of field

When we think about depth of field, we’re really just talking about a simple rule of physics: when you dial a small aperture such as f/22 is selected rather than a large aperture like f/2.8, your image will have more depth of field. So if you want to blur your background and create a shallow depth of field, your best method is to select a large aperture (one of the lower f numbers).

However, you can also control depth of field by adjusting your focal length. At any given aperture, depth of field gets shallower as focal length increases and vice versa.

If you want to make your subject stand out more with a shallow depth of field, consider mounting a longer lens on your camera. Or if you have hired a zoom lens, set it to a longer focal length. 

Another way to get shallow depth of field is to simply move your body. Sometimes just a few steps can make all the difference! For instance, if you've ever tried macro photography you will have likely noticed that your depth of field becomes very restricted when a subject is close to your camera. This is why photographers often use small apertures to capture their subjects sharp from front to back, or shoot at large apertures and use a focus stacking technique to get the whole subject in focus. 

Finally, you can also employ all three of these techniques we mentioned – proximity, aperture and focal length – to ensure you achieve a very restricted depth of field. Mounting a long lens, setting a wide aperture and composing your image close to the subject will pretty much guarantee you an image with very restricted depth of field. Then, if the effect is too extreme for the type of picture you had in mind, simply dial back one of those three elements.

Take a step backwards. Change your aperture from f/2.8 to f/4. Or if you have a telephoto zoom, move your focal length back slightly toward the wide-angle end. Eventually, you’ll find the winning combination!