How and When Should I use a Large Depth of Field? – Part 2

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Large Depth of Field Examples:

A large depth of field is key when you want to share a crisp, sharp and well-focused view of the entire scene with your viewers.

This can be particularly useful in landscapes. Example:
In this photograph, the use of a large depth of field ensures that both the small rock in the foreground and the mountains in the background are well focused and sharp. This helps to convey the natural depth of the landscape.

Here is another example of how the use of a large depth of field can serve landscape photography:
Sometimes it can actually be useful to emphasize how busy a scene is. The use of a large depth of field allows us to do that in this photograph:
More often than not, large depth of field is the way to go with architecture photography, so that everything is sharp and well focused. Example:
Traditionally, portrait photography is known for using shallow depth of field to blur out the background and give the photograph a soft feeling. However there are exceptions to this rule as the following photograph shows:

Occasionally it can be helpful to use a large depth of field in street photography to better convey the context in which the photograph was taken. Example:
In macro photography, it can at times be desirable to have everything in focus if we want to emphasize detail and texture.
So as you have seen, both shallow and large depth of field can be useful in a wide variety of situations. Once again, there are no set rules as to when to use which, but hopefully after having seen these examples, you will be able to choose wisely.

Notes on Large depth of field:
Using a small aperture like f/16 or even f/22 (if your lens offers it) results in a large depth of field. However, you should not always use the smallest aperture available when you want a large depth of field. This is because at very small apertures, an optical phenomenon called ‘diffraction’ can cause a loss in quality.
Always choose the smallest aperture that will give you the depth of field that you need. For example, even if f/22 is available, f/16 might give you enough depth of field. Choosing the right aperture is something you will learn through practice and experimentation.
Also keep in mind that the smaller aperture you use, the longer the shutter time will be. Therefore when working with small apertures, a tripod is often required to avoid camera shake.

Notes on Shallow depth of field:
On a similar note, when trying to achieve a shallow depth of field, it is not necessarily a good idea to use the largest aperture available.
Let’s say you are taking a portrait of a person infront of a busy street, and you want to use a large aperture to create a shallow depth of field and blur out the busy background.
If you use too large an aperture, even your subject will be partly blurred. Once again, use the aperture that gives you just the right depth of field, where the background is blurred but your subject is still well visible.

A tip for maximum depth of field:
An interesting and useful fact to know is that the depth of field in a photo will always roughly extend 1/3 in front of the subject and 2/3 behind it. What this means is that the area in “acceptable focus” will be larger behind your subject than in front of it.
What this means is that if you focus on the infinite, you are wasting the depth of field behind it. Instead, when you want to try and achieve maximum depth of field, focus on something at 1/3 of the distance to the furthest element in the scene.
This tip will help you get close to the maximum depth of field possible.



I started photography as a hobby in 2005, during college. My passion slowly became a more important part of my life since 2008. Because of using a combination of my photographic knowledge, with those of internet marketing, I like to call myself a "photomarketer".

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