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_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

Here a model, there a model

Because we have mannequins  . . . why doesn’t really matter,  I am faced with an opportunity. In the past few weeks, they have made their way out of the basement, where they have been standing/lounging, as if at a supermodel party for numerous years, to the backyard where they are standing in as our version of yard art/scarecrows. We are passing them on and I decided they need to be put to work, after so many years of rent-free living, before that could happen.

Mannequins make excellent models, no complaining, no funny faces or accidental shut eyes, but are a bit “one note” as far as expressions go. Our backyard is the location and an exercise in depth of field the first job. Setting my f-stop to 4, I shot this:

I am happy with the blurring of the background achieved and how it makes him stand out but some times you want to see the background so I set the f-stop to 16:

I like the depth of field in this one and how in focus she is, although he is a bit out of focus. Next, I tried a different set-up and an f-stop of 22:

I was very happy with the focus of all three subjects and the surroundings even the wires (they add an urban feel). The f-stop controls the opening in the camera allowing in more or less light and it also controls the depth of field. A larger opening, achieved by using a lower numbered f-stop, produces a shallow depth of field, where the background will be blurry and almost velvety. Conversely, a smaller opening, using a higher numbered f-stop, produces a deep field of vision, obtaining focus in subjects both close and farther away from the camera.                                                                                                           Face into the sun and f-stop back to 4, she shines like the supermodel she is:

Next, it was his turn:

How many models will stay still for a spider on their nose? After that, the fun really began. Time to put them to work in the yard,

Disaffected? Yes. Yet will do anything asked of them. . .

Their dreamy aura inspired this pose:

Lastly, the American Gothic painting by Grant Wood comes to my mind while gazing at these two.  A modern take on a classic:

I bid adieu to “Adam and Eve”, it was fun knowing you!

~ Sue