How and When Should I use a Shallow Depth of Field? – Part 1
When using shallow depth of field, it is very important to make sure you focus on your subject. Most cameras autofocus by focusing on the center of the frame. This can be a problem if the subject is not in the center, as it will not be properly focused.
Fortunately, all models of autofocus cameras offer a way to solve this problem:
You can press the shutter release button halfway down and hold it with the subject in the center. Then you recompose with the subject off center and take the photograph by pressing the button all the way down.
When you first press the shutter release button halfway, the camera focuses on the distance the subject is at. Then you are able to recompose and finally take the photo.
Some cameras offer a selective focus mode that allows you to choose which part of the frame to focus on.
Applications of depth of field:
Understanding and using the concept of depth of field lets you add an entirely new dimension to your work as a photographer.
While there are no set rules as to when to utilize either shallow or large depth of field, we will try and share with you some of the most common situations in which you may find each to be useful.
In other words, it’s time for pretty pictures!
Shallow depth of field examples:
Shallow depth of field is very useful in any situation where you want to concentrate the viewers’ attention on your subject, by blurring out the surroundings.
I will now show you some examples of different styles of photographs that use a shallow depth of field effectively.
The use of a shallow depth of field in this portrait creates a blurred background which helps focus the attention on the model and contributes to the dreamy atmosphere.
The shallow DOF helps emphasize the subject, while still allowing to appreciate the context in which it was taken.
In macro photography the combination of short distance and long focal length can be used to create a very shallow depth of field which helps isolate small subjects from their busy background.
Nature photography too can benefit from the use of shallow depth of field. In the following example, the colour of the subject and the background is the same, a situation in which it can be tricky taking an effective photograph. However, the use of a shallow depth of field still allows us to isolate the subject by blurring out the background:
Isolating the subject with shallow depth of field can also be effective in conceptual photography, to convey your message effectively. Example:
In the photograph below called “a leader”, the choice of depth of field is such that it emphasizes the foremost dog in accordance with the concept; without blurring out the other dogs too much.
Wildlife photography too, can make good use of a shallow depth of field to isolate the subject.