Control Depth of Field in Your Photographs
Depth of field is one of the most important aspects of creating fine art photographs. The exposure triangle teaches us that we can adjust our shutter speed and our ISO to balance any changes we make to our Aperture, enabling us to create our desired depth of field. There are times, though, when you’ll find yourself unwilling to change your ISO and shutter speed but still not satisfied with your Depth of Field. What can you do to control your depth of field in this situation?
Control Depth of Field with these 3 Tips
- Change your focal length. Longer lenses create shallower depth of field.
- Change the positioning of your subject. Position your subject well in front of your background, focus on the subject.
- And, my favorite and most frequently used tip: Change your focus. Adjust your focus to place your subject in a different area of the depth of field.
Focal length: I will frequently choose a longer focal length lens when shooting in the field or in the studio. When you change your focal length, you’ll also need to change where you, the photographer, are when you take the photograph. There are times when moving isn’t always a practical solution (think narrow trails and river banks).
Subject position: Changing the positioning of your subject is a great tip when photographing people. Balancing subject distance to background and focal length to subject is an important aspect of creating a great photograph while keeping your models comfortable. Your models will be uncomfortable if you’re too close to them AND uncomfortable if you’re too far away from them.
Focus: This is how I usually solve my depth of field problems because it doesn’t change my position or composition. Use your depth of field preview button to see which areas of your composition are in focus. Let’s say that the sharp area in your composition measures 3 feet deep. By adjusting your focus, but not your focal length, focal distance or aperture, you can move those 3 feet forward or backwards in your composition.
For example, if your subject is in the middle of the depth of field but there’s something in the foreground that is out of focus (which you want in focus), then adjust your focus to place your subject in the back of the depth of the field. This will move your depth of field closer to include your foreground and subject.
By changing my focus from the midground to the foreground, I’m moving my depth of field so that it encompassed both bunnies. Make sure you check your depth of field preview after adjusting your focus. Or, shoot and view the image on your LCD screen.