This week’s report on the 52 Assignments book is all about depth of field or as Adam Juniper calls it ‘the shallow end’. What would you use a shallow depth of field for? For cat lovers, it’s perfect for capturing a special detail, a close-up, or a portrait with a touch of bokeh behind it.
This assignment can be used inside and outside using any camera you have. I am using smartphone and DSLR shots in this post so the depth of field you see will vary.
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What is shallow depth of field?
It means that only the cat or object stands out in clear focus and most of the background further away is out of focus and blurry.
Did you know? You can tell an iPhone where to focus by tapping on the screen. If you want the foreground in focus, tap on something close to the camera. Want the background in focus? Tap a background subject.Macworld
Shallow Depth of Field Tips
The F-stop in my photograph of kitten Tigger was not quite as low as it could have been but the background is nicely out of focus and 52 Assignments recommends somewhere between F2 and F5.6. Yes the ISO in my photo is very high but I was exploring lighting similar to Silver in an earlier post which is why the number looks much more dramatic than the standard outside ISO 200 or inside ISO 800.
The aperture contracts when you dial in a large f-number, such as f/11 and the aperture expands when you dial in a small f-number, such as f/2.8Photo Workout
If you use a DSLR camera at the shallow end of the depth of field spectrum, the book recommends settings of Aperture Priority (A on a Nikon) and then suggests that open the aperture as wide as you can. This means F2.8 or as near as you can get with your own camera and lens. F 2.8 is a large aperture and photographers consider this to be ‘wide open’.
If you check out the paperweight photo you can see that I have used an F-stop of F1.8 which is as low as my nifty-fifty 50 mm lens can go. Each lens is different so if you have more than one, check each to see how high your F-stop can go.
Smartphone Depth of Field Tips
The book’s assignment notes that with smartphones the amount of bokeh (background focus) you get depends on the following:
- The age of your smartphone.
- The apps you use e.g. Afterfocus (iOS/Android), Big Lens, iPad).
- or if you have the more recent ‘portrait mode’ on your smartphone. If you are not familiar with portrait mode, it gives your cat photos an artificial depth of field.
Mobile phone cameras can generate a shallow depth of field straight out of camera if the image being captured is extremely close to the lens. You will need to know how close you can hold your phone before it struggles to focus. Practice focusing your smartphone.
Shallow End Instagram Filters and Tips
You can add these hashtags to your own favourites : #dof #depth #photography #catlovers
To add drama to am image boost your saturation and/or your contrast. This can be done before you add photos Instagram or other social media and it helps to push your subject into the foreground. An alternative is to use a black and white filter as I have done with Toulouse’s portrait. The use of sharpening should be avoided says author Adam Juniper.
This is a challenging area for smartphone users so exploring apps is a great idea.
Photo Resources for Depth of Field
- Control Focus and Depth of Field in an iPhone Macworld
- Mobile Photography and Depth of Field – Manfrotto
- What is F-Stop?
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