Food Photography and Depth of Field

Photographing food and sharing meals and recipes through pictures has taken off over the last few years. Depth of field, is something to consider when composing your food shots. Do you want a whole plate of food and surrounding dishes in focus or just one item on the plate, or a bite? The answer will be your guide to choosing the aperture value.

pineapple, orange, apple and persimmon

F/16

pineapple, orange, apple and persimmon

F/3.2

When the food is on the same focal plane the choice isn’t as critical, as is exhibited in the two examples above. But change your angle of view a bit, creating more distance between you and the items being photographed, and there is a marked difference.

pineapple, orange, apple and persimmon

F/16

pineapple, orange, apple and persimmon

F/3.2

As you can see, the second photo taken at a wider aperture has a smaller area of focus, the pineapple, and the other fruit is out of focus. Using the wider aperture puts the emphasis on the pineapple rather than the entire grouping of fruit.

Use a wider aperture when the goal is focusing on a specific area in a photo.

pineapple, orange, apple and persimmon

F/2.2

At f/2.2 the orange can be singled out for highlighting or the apple.

pineapple, orange, apple and persimmon

F/2.2

To achieve focus throughout, a smaller aperture is best.

pineapple, orange, apple and persimmon

F/16

The greater distance between the items being photographed, the more exaggerated the effect will be.

pineapple, orange, apple and persimmon

F/11

At f/11, most of the food is in focus whereas at f/2.8, the pineapple surface is the focal point and the rest of the fruit fades out of focus.

pineapple, orange, apple and persimmon

F/2.8

   Taking an overhead shot puts the food on an even field,

pineapple, orange, apple and persimmon


F/13

except when the food is differing heights, as with these pieces of fruit. If achieving focus throughout is your desire, use a smaller aperture. With an aperture of f/13 most of the food is in focus as well as the pineapple top, the tallest item.

In photography, the settings you choose will help you realize your artistic vision; with food photography, there’s nothing like a little playing with your food for honing that vision.

Lots of good food for playing with at this time of year!

~ Susan

How Shallow is your Field?

angel tree topperThe halls are being decked, the tannenbaum’s lovely branches are becoming adorned with lights, beads and ornaments and the spicy aroma of molasses crinkles cookies baking in the oven is filling the house. The perfect time to grab the camera and capture some of the details. This week we are exploring shallow depth of field.  A shallow depth of field will be achieved by using a large aperture which is represented by the smaller f-stop numbers. Using an 85mm f/1.8 lens and opening the aperture to its widest or almost widest, is my method of focusing on a specific area or item in a scene.

_MG_2653With the aperture open to f/2.8 I can focus solely on the mug and blur the books or…

_MG_2655focus on a portion of the books only and everything else will blur. If you want to isolate your subject from the other elements in the photo this is an excellent method. Shutting down the aperture to f/8 will allow you to achieve focus in most of your scene.

_MG_2659At f/1.8, the focus is on the top book and cider inside the mug;_MG_2662 at f/7.1, all the items on the tabletop are in focus.

_MG_2661  A shallower depth of field can be used to isolate ornaments on the tree.

_MG_2666

_MG_2668Also, using a large aperture enables focusing on one item in a group.

_MG_2671Which depth of field is used is based on what you are trying to communicate in your photo. With people gathering to celebrate at this time of year, there are many opportunities for experimenting.

~ Susan

Searching the Depths

“I can’t believe it’s December! Where has the year gone?” These phrases are uttered often at this time of year.  Personally, I can’t believe we have arrived at our last month of focusing on a photographic term. It seems like only last week we were compiling the list, challenging ourselves to concentrate on one subject a month. Wrapping up this photographic term-of-the-month year will be a closer look into depth of field.

Depth of field refers to the range of distance in an image where objects appear acceptably sharp. Sometimes, a photographer chooses to keep most of an image sharp which is known as deep depth of field. Other times, just a small part of the photo is kept sharp, thus emphasizing the subject by separating it from the background and foreground by making them blurry or indistinct, this is known as shallow depth of field.

DSC_0244One of the main methods of controlling the depth of field is the aperture. The aperture is the opening in the lens which lets light in and can be adjusted, becoming larger or smaller. The larger the aperture, represented by a smaller f-stop number, the shallower the depth of field. This week I am contemplating deeply. Deep depth of field is achieved by using a smaller aperture, a larger f-stop number. The f-stop for the photo above of Griffith Park Observatory on the hill was f/8. In the next photo, the f-stop was 13.

_MG_9157The kite surfers are at varying distances from me yet they are all reasonably sharp.

_MG_8802An f-stop of 16 enables the water’s surface to be sharp in the photo above.

It can be beneficial to occasionally sit back, entertain deep thoughts about what you are trying to communicate with your photos and whether the use of a deep or shallow depth of field could be one of the methods of accomplishing your goal.

This week will find me out in the field,

~ Susan

What’s an F-stop?

We have explored ISO and the effect it has on exposure the last couple of weeks and next, we will consider another component of the exposure triangle in photography: aperture. The aperture is the opening in a lens, which can be adjusted to be larger, smaller or somewhere in between. The numbers representing this opening are called f-stops. The f/stop numbers have an inverse relation to the opening size: the smaller value of the number the larger the opening in the lens and more light is let in; conversely, the larger the numerical value the smaller the lens opening and less light is available.

_MG_8079anemoneWhen shooting at a wider opening or, a smaller numbered f-stop, the depth of field is also affected. With the lower f-stops or smaller numbers, you have a shallower depth of field; especially helpful when you want to isolate your subject from the background.

_MG_8083anemoneHere, using an f/5.6, the anemone is in focus but the top portion of the photo is beginning to blur.

A smaller f-stop can also be used when shooting landscapes and you want to bring attention to one element or person.

_MG_5453shore cactusSince the ocean is on a very different plane than the cactus the ocean water details turn a velvety blue when using the f/5.6 setting in this photo.

For the egret in flight, a f/7.1 setting was used which results in most of the elements of the photo in focus.

_MG_8564egretWhen everything in sharp focus is the goal than an f-stop of 11 or higher should be used. For this landscape, I chose a setting of f/22.

_MG_8088rocky shoreIf you would like to re-visit another backyard sisters post on depth of field and f/stops using a different subject click here.

Also, if you would like to learn more about exposure, there is an excellent book by Bryan Peterson titled Understanding Exposure, it gives an in-depth explanation of the different aspects of the exposure triangle accompanied by creative and colorful photos.

This week you will find me out looking for depth in my field,

~ Susan