Depth of Field and the Importance Distance to Subject Plays

Let’s say that perhaps you’ve been taking photos for a while now. You’ve gotten yourself a good DSLR camera and have recognized that the standard 18-55mm kit lens that comes with your camera is nice, but just doesn’t give you the shots that you are looking for.

IMG

So you plunk down your money on the ever-popular 50mm f/1.8 prime lens that everybody is talking about, mount in on your camera, change your aperture to its widest (f/1.8) setting and start shooting. You spend all day shooting with this wonderful little lens and then you get home and put them on your computer and realize that 80% of your shots are out of focus.

In the past, when this used to happen to me, I would reason that shooting wide open was just not possible, because I ended up with too many shots that were out of focus. I incorrectly reasoned that I always needed to close down my aperture when shooting portrait subjects, or they would end up out of focus because the shallow depth of field was just too unusable wide open. For a while, I only used my 50mm 1.8 lens at f/4 because it was the widest aperture that I trusted to get the shot in focus. Crazy yes, I know. But then I figured out something that has changed my use of wide-aperture lenses forever.

Before we continue, let’s break down the meaning of “wide open” and “fast prime lenses”. To shoot “wide open” means that you are choosing to photograph at your lens’ widest aperture setting or f-stop. On a lot of lenses, the widest aperture is listed somewhere on the lens itself with Canon usually listing it on the front of the lens, and Nikon listing this information on the body of the lens. Generally the ration looks something like this: 1:2.8 or 1:1.8. (See photos)

IMG 4418 IMG 4419

A “fast prime lens” is one that has one focal length (does not zoom) and has “fast” light-gathering ability (due to its wider apertures). Most photographers consider a fast lens to be one with an aperture number of f/2.8 or wider (the smaller the number, the wider the aperture). Two of the most popular features of fast prime lenses are their ability to obtain beautiful out of focus backgrounds and shallow depth of field, as well as their ability to handle low-light conditions because of the aforementioned large apertures.

Let me let you in on a little secret about shooting wide open – it’s about the distance to your subject. Most people learn that wide-aperture lenses blur the background and let in more light, but they never understand that the really neat shallow depth of field created by their lens is also affected by another factor; how close they are to the subject.

You won’t find many manuals on subject to camera distance. It’s kind of an assumed topic that doesn’t get enough attention. Let’s look at it as simply as possible: the closer you are to your subject, the shallower the depth of field is relative to your chosen aperture. In other words, if you are shooting at f/1.8 and you are 20 feet away from your subject, you will have MORE depth of field than you will if you are shooting 2 feet away from your subject.

To get more mathematical, if you’re using a 50mm lens at f/1.8 and photographing something at 4 feet, your depth of field will be around 1.5 inches deep. But if you photograph that same subject from 10 feet, you will have a depth of field of just under 10 inches deep.

2ft 35mmP

Shot at 2ft with a 35mm lens at f/1.4.

9ft 35mmP

Shot at 9ft with a 35mm lens at f/1.4. 

The right image cropped to similar framing as the left. Notice the increase in depth of field on the hair and ears, and also the reduction in lens distortion.

2ft 35mm

Shot at 2 ft with a 35mm lens at f/1.4.

9ft 35mm

Shot at 9ft with a 35mm lens at f/1.4. Cropped to similar framing. Notice how the pencils in the back row come into focus.

With this information, it is also very important that you get to really know your lens and its abilities. For instance, if you happen to know that you shoot a lot of portraiture close to your subjects, be aware of how much depth of field your lens gives you at three feet, four feet, and so on, when shooting wide open. In time, with experience, you will be able to immediately predict the depth of field your lens will give you based on the distance you are away from your subject.

5ft 85mmP

Shot at 5ft with an 85mm lens at f/1.4.

12ft 85mmP

Shot at 12ft with an 85mm lens at f/1.4.

The depth of field does increase slightly in the right image, but not as dramatically as the 35mm lens due to the 85mm longer focal length.

In conclusion, you can see that the reason your photos might be coming out blurry would be because of your distance to your subject when shooting wide open. So the next time you find yourself frustrated at your results shooting with that wide-aperture lens at its widest aperture, take a step or two back. You might like the results.

The post Depth of Field and the Importance Distance to Subject Plays by Al Jurina appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

3 Video Tutorials – How to Use On-Camera Flash

This week I have found some great videos to help you to understand how to use on-camera flash to your advantage. Flash can be confusing to understand and using on-camera flash incorrectly can make unflattering light, or worse yet ruin your photos completely. Have a watch of these tutorials on flash and see if you can pick up some helpful tips:

Video #1 Ed Vorosky – On-camera fill flash basics

Ed Vorosky covers some of the basics you will need to get a grasp on using flash on-camera. He goes over some of the settings to look for on your flash, different lighting situations, and which camera shooting mode to use. There’s a helpful demonstration of using Flash Exposure Compensation and how it affects your photo as well.

Video #2 Tony Northrup – Bounce Flash Basics

In this second video tutorial Tony Northrup goes into a little more detail using on-camera flash indoors and bouncing it for various different looks. He shows the results using just ambient light, flash straight on, and bounced off both the ceiling and side walls. You can see how just a small adjustment with your flash can completely change the look of your image or portrait.

Video #3 Mark Wallace – On-camera flash basics

In this last video Mark Wallace covers some of the basic flash settings for both Canon and Nikon flashes, then he goes outside to demonstrate how to control the exposure on the background (ambient) using both systems. Then he goes back indoors and shows several options for using the flash on-camera in that environment including bounce flash techniques.

Do you have any anxiety around using flash? Or are you a pro? Share any questions and comments you have below.

The post 3 Video Tutorials – How to Use On-Camera Flash by Darlene Hildebrandt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

3 Video Tutorials – How to Use On-Camera Flash 6 3 Video Tutorials – How to Use On-Camera Flash 7 3 Video Tutorials – How to Use On-Camera Flash 8 3 Video Tutorials – How to Use On-Camera Flash 9

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Categories: Digital

Weekly Photography Challenge – Music

This week the theme of the image collection was music – view the 35 magical musically inclined images here.

Phil Hilfiker

By Phil Hilfiker

Carrying forward, naturally your challenge this week will be involving music as well. That could look a few different ways depending on your own situation, what you have access to, and what’s in your area, including:

  • photos of musical instruments (check with stores, they may be willing to lend you one to photograph or find a friend who has one)
  • photos of people actually playing an instrument
  • a rock concert
  • a marching band or parade
  • music CD, DVDs or old-time LPs
  • a singer
  • street musicians

What other ideas can you come up with for music?

Weekly photography challenge – music

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Martinak15

By martinak15

Caroline

By Caroline

Francesco ?2015?

By francesco ?2015?

Adrien Sifre

By Adrien Sifre

Tanakawho

By tanakawho

Michael Kötter

By Michael Kötter

Fabrizio Lonzini

By Fabrizio Lonzini

Jorge Américo

By Jorge Américo

Georgie Pauwels

By Georgie Pauwels

JH Images.co.uk

By JH Images.co.uk

Share your music images here:

Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see or if you’d prefer upload them to your favourite photo sharing site and leave the link to them. Show me your best images in this week’s challenge. Sometimes it takes a while for an image to appear so be patient and try not to post the same image twice.

The post Weekly Photography Challenge – Music by Darlene Hildebrandt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Music 11 Weekly Photography Challenge – Music 12 Weekly Photography Challenge – Music 13 Weekly Photography Challenge – Music 14

Weekly Photography Challenge – Music 15

Categories: Digital

Weekly Photography Challenge – Spare Time

Earlier we featured 36 images of people engaged in recreational activities, things they do in their spare time.

Josh Hunter

By josh hunter

Weekly photography challenge – spare time

This week for your photography challenge I urge you to think about what ELSE you do in your spare time. Do you read, cook, go bowling, ride a motorcycle, play sports, draw, or walk your dog? How do you spend your free time? What sorts of recreational activities do you participate in?

Next go photograph some of these things. You could do a self-portrait or other people doing the things you enjoy doing as well. Such as:

Elena Bobrovitzkaya

By Elena Bobrovitzkaya

David Yu

By David Yu

Dan Bergstrom

By Dan Bergstrom

Luke Addison

By Luke Addison

Andreas Hans J. Bauer

By Andreas Hans J. Bauer

Jonathan Haeber

By Jonathan Haeber

Share your spare time images here:

Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see or if you’d prefer upload them to your favourite photo sharing site and leave the link to them. Show me your best images in this week’s challenge. Sometimes it takes a while for an image to appear so be patient and try not to post the same image twice.

The post Weekly Photography Challenge – Spare Time by Darlene Hildebrandt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Spare Time 16 Weekly Photography Challenge – Spare Time 17 Weekly Photography Challenge – Spare Time 18 Weekly Photography Challenge – Spare Time 19

Weekly Photography Challenge – Spare Time 20

Categories: Digital

Weekly Photography Challenge – New

Earlier I shared some images of different ways you might have rung in the New Year. As is it now 2015 and we’re embarking on a new year, we will stay with that theme for this week’s photography challenge.

Weekly Photography Challenge – New

Your challenge is to convey the idea of new. That could look a number of different ways including:

  • A newborn baby
  • New objects like a shiny new car
  • A fresh new snowfall
  • New goals for 2015
  • New ideas
  • And many more others I haven’t even thought of . . .

So how will you convey an idea or concept? It might be literal or more subtle. Show me how you tell the story of NEW.

Kenneth Spencer

By Kenneth Spencer

Brent Danley

By Brent Danley

Michael  Tapp

By Michael Tapp

Trey Ratcliff

By Trey Ratcliff

Tracy Byrnes

By Tracy Byrnes

Paul L

By Paul L

Iirraa

By iirraa

Jacinta Lluch Valero

By jacinta lluch valero

Share your “new” images here:

Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see or if you’d prefer upload them to your favourite photo sharing site and leave the link to them. Show me your best images in this week’s challenge. Sometimes it takes a while for an image to appear so be patient and try not to post the same image twice.

The post Weekly Photography Challenge – New by Darlene Hildebrandt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

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