2020 Photo Challenge #23

June’s theme / technique: Being Creative with DOF

If you want to see what this month’s assignments are in advance then please click here. All the assignments are available from the menu on the left under the 2020 Photo Challenge / Assignments.

The six visual keys to a great photograph are:

    • Patterns
    • Texture
    • Lines
    • Colour
    • Depth of field
    • Space
  • OK so first of all what is Depth of Field?

A basic definition of depth of field is: the zone of acceptable sharpness within a photo that will appear in focus. In every picture there is a certain area of your image in front of, and behind the subject that will appear in focus.

Using a shallow depth of field is a good way to make your subject stand out from its background and is great for portrait photography and wildlife photography when you don’t want the background to distract from your subject.

If you are a person who likes to photograph landscapes you would want everything from near to far to be in focus. This is known as a deep depth of field where we want to see as much detail as possible.

Now for the technical bit where your eyes will glaze over…

Depth Of Field – deep field vs shallow field (high f stop f/22 vs low f stop f/1.8).

    • The lower the f/stop—the larger the opening in the lens—the less depth of field—the blurrier the background.
    • Likewise, the higher the f/stop—the smaller the opening in the lens—the greater the depth of field—the sharper the background.

Aperture refers to the access given to light from the lens to the camera sensors. The size of your aperture (the diameter of the hole through which light enters the camera) controls the amount of light entering your lens. Using the aperture priority mode (the f-stop) of your lens is the simplest way to control your depth of field as you set up your shot and you can leave the rest of the decisions to the camera.

Aperture diagram

Lens focal length tells us the angle of view—how much of the scene will be captured—and the magnification—how large individual elements will be. The shorter the focal length, the wider the angle of view and the lower the magnification.

Ok. Are you still with me?

I’ll freely admit that although my logical brain understands all this, my practical brain doesn’t. I’m lazy and rely on my camera and the lenses to make the decisions for me. I will attempt to use the aperture settings on my camera this month to take the photos, but I won’t guarantee what the shots will look like!

My Camera Equipment

How to achieve a Shallow Depth of Field

Use any of these tips as an exercise to get up close to your subject.

    • Widen your aperture to f/1.8 or even f/1.4 if you can, (some camera lenses such as a kit lens may not allow you to go less than f/3.5)
    • Physically move closer to the subject and focus on a small area.
    • Lengthen your focal length (zoom in / close-up).  If your camera came with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, then you know that the widest your lens can go is 18mm and the most zoomed in your lens can go is 55mm.

For getting in closer still you probably need a macro lens. It is a way to examine even a common object in a new way and observe its finer details. And the difference between Macro photography and a close-up? Well a close-up image will fill the frame and can generally be done using any type of lens including cameras with a macro setting. Macro photography on the other hand, although a form of close-up, is usually only achieved using a special (and expensive) macro lens. A macro shot, allows for bigger magnification and shows the finest detail in focus. A real macro lens has the capability of achieving in the least a 1:1 magnification.

How to achieve a Deeper Depth of Field

Use a smaller lens opening or a higher number (f-stop or aperture).  You can also achieve this effect by using a wider angle lens which inherently have greater depth of field (e.g. 14 – 35mm).

Use any of these tips as an exercise to get up further away from your subject.

    • Narrow your aperture (larger f-number)
    • Physically move farther from the subject
    • Shorten focal length (zoom out)  If your camera came with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, then you know that the widest your lens can go is 18mm and the most zoomed in your lens can go is 55mm.

There is also a rather good article explaining the differences with examples here

This week's assignment - Take three images of a chosen subject at three different aperture ranges. Low (shallow like f/1.8), medium (intermediate like f/5.6) and high (deep like f/11). Which photo pleases you the most. Why is that? 

If you are still confused about using Aperture Priority Mode, then simply use a zoom lens or camera with zoom settings and select three different focal lengths. Or use three different lenses with various f-number settings. What we are aiming for here is a comparison with f/1.8, f/5.6 and f/16 or whatever the lowest and highest range is available to you.

(please click on an image to enlarge)

(1) F/0.95 – a shallow depth of field (low) where the focus is on the mug of pens and the background is very blurred.

(2) F/ 4.5 – an intermediate depth of field (medium) where the focus remains on the mug of pens, but the background is more in focus and you can start to make out shapes.

(3) F/16 – a deep depth of field (high) where not only is the mug of pens in focus but you can now make out the table and the base of the lamp in the background. Everything is in focus.

My favourite is the shallow depth of field where the mug of pens is sharp and clear and the background does not distract you from the subject, whereas in the deep depth of field the objects behind the mug become intrusive.

If you would like to join in with the 2020 photo challenge then please take a look at my 2020 Photo Challenge page. No complicated rules, just a camera required 🙂

    • Create your own post with some information about how you composed the shot.
    • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
    • Add the tag #2020PhotoChallenge so everyone can find your entry easily in the WP Reader
    • Get your post(s) in by the end of the month, as the new theme comes out on the first Sunday in July.

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

57 thoughts on “2020 Photo Challenge #23”

  1. Hmm. I’ll have to see about this. I have the least technical brain on the planet. I’ve now been on two local photography courses and failed to get my head round this at all. Just for you, I’ll try again, but … All this and WP Block Editor too!

    1. Forget about the block editor, stay with the classic one. And yes I agree that this is a difficult challenge, which is why I have suggested different ways to achieve the results. I actually used my phone!

      1. Ah, I see. I have a bargain-basement Motorola, so that may not work for me. I probably shall stay with Classic, but at some stage need to challenge myself in case they pull the rug from under our feet!

        1. Get another free blog and use that to practice with, no need to publish anything, or set it to private. I tried 2 columns yesterday and then couldn’t remove the blocks! Had to go into the code to delete them. So it is not bug free!

        2. Actually I have a private blog for recipes so I’m going to fiddle around there. I see you were in IT! that makes me feel so much better, that you aren’t finding it easy.

        3. Too buggy for me. This is just a commercial web editor for dummies who don’t want to be involved in coding themselves. I have replicated my six on saturday post which follows a similar layout each week and it is doable, but takes me longer! And I cannot find a way to indent a paragraph without resorting back to HTML to do it.

        4. Then I’ll stick to what I know best! Actually once you have changed the editor and go into the site using WPAdmin it gives you the choice under posts to edit or classic edit (something like that) and if you choose edit on an older post then it comes up as a classic editor block! I could go on, but I won’t 😁

  2. Ooh, techie stuff! Are you finding it hard to keep up? There’s a lot of detail in here. I had to go and search for your Saturday 6 this morning. 🙂 🙂 Yes the deep one is far too distracting! What IS that in the background? Some kind of workbench…

    1. There is a lot of detail but in very simplistic terms. I won’t repeat it all in the rest of the month’s posts. The background is simply a bedside table with a lamp on it 😂

  3. Aperure Priority is the only setting I generally use, and f5.6 usually works for most things, though I normally shoot wide oopen for portraits. When I had better cameras, I did go down as low as f22 on occasion, usually using a tripod. Some modern cameras now allow you to choose what is in focus after taking the shot, which must make life much easier. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Interesting how we all use our cameras….ever since day dot I have used manual settings(there was no auto back in the day) and rarely use auto of any kind

      1. I did use manual, and a lightmeter too for a short time. Then I discovered that the camera suggested almost identical exposure values, once I had set an aperture using AP. That light meter is still in a box in the loft somewhere. 🙂

        1. Ah, depends on what you want the result to be! My light background images would be way underexposed if the camera had its way, Pete!

        2. Yes indeed. I do make some use of the good old ‘exposure compensation’ dial on occasion. Modern electronic viewfinders are great for letting you see the potential results before taking the photo. When I shot film, I regularly used bracketing when it was a photo I really wanted to get right. 🙂

        1. If you have a good eye for a photo (which you do) using auto settings is perfectly fine. I do it all the time too. It’s even rare that I use any of the built in scenes! But I set out to challenge myself this year, so challenge I will, even though I struggle with the manual settings.

        2. Well, I promised to join you so we’ll struggle on together. That is rather the point, and why it’s called ‘challenge’.

    2. My phone does that! I generally use auto settings as my camera seems to do fine with that – there are excellent cameras now. I have tried the aperture settings occasionally and I often switch to manual focus when I use the macro lens.

  4. Ah, I just need to choose a subject, and I’ll polish off a post for you, Jude….around a decade ago I started to use camera settings more meaningfully, so this isn’t daunting

  5. You’ve put together a good primer on the subject. The confusion between aperture and f/stop is explained by the /, which indicates division. The f-number is on the bottom of the fraction. Dividing by a bigger number means a smaller aperture, just as 1/4 of a pound is less than 1/2 of a pound.

  6. Thanks for the explanations Jude. I did have a sort of blurry idea how it all worked , a few years back I took a short hands on photo course, it was fun. But memory not so good these days and of course if I don’t keep using the knowledge it kind of slips to the back and gets lost in the grey matter. So I’m back to auto these days so this is going to get me out of my lazy ways. I will have a go in the next couple of days. Watch this space….🤭📷

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