Beginner Cat Photo Skills, Let's Talk About

Lets Talk About Depth of Field

Sharpening your photography skills takes practice. We all start have to start somewhere which is why I created this series of Let’s Talk beginner’s posts.

Today I am introducing Depth of Field which can make your cat photos look amazing.

Explore Depth of Field

You can so easily get blindsided by the technical side of Depth of Field so don’t panic. I think it is best to learn to understand the two most popular settings. First the ‘shhallow depth of field that give you a soft focus background. Secondly, the settings that keep your images sharp front to back of the image.

I have found that playing around is the best way to learn and you have fun. I took the chance to explore how depth of field works in these photos. I photographed Taz and Phoebe and showcase a landscape photograph showing full sharpness.

Yes, I took a lot of non-brilliant photos to get these, I admit it!

Taz – Shallow Depth of Field

Large and Small Aperture

This is where new photographers often get confused! Yes I did, and still do if I am not prepared!

A larger aperture is where the lens is open wide, like your eye with a large pupil. This has a smaller f-stop number. A smaller aperture like your eye with a smaller pupil has a big f-stop number. Here’s how it works.

Often a soft focus background (bokeh) looks nice, especially for a nice cat portrait. (Check out my photo of Taz.) Or, when you want an untidy background to look less noticeable. This would be a setting like f2.8 or f5.6.

If you want front to back sharpness, similar to the kind you see in landscape photographs. See my Makara Coast photo (below) you can use a setting like f14f22. Take some photos and see which works best for you.

Dept of Field Definition (simple)

I have found a clear definition of depth of field by Dave Morrow. His definition is backed up by an impressive if slightly technical post via his link.

Depth of Field determines the closest and farthest objects in an image, both of which are in focus. The entire image between these objects also maintains sharp focus.

Dave Morrow
  • NOTE: There is a pop-up on David Morrow’s site but, for once, it is worth dismissing it to read the post in full.
Landescape Shot of the Makara Coast in New Zealand.
Makara Coast, NZ – F/14

My Depth of Field Success and Failure

A Depth of Field Fail

I have not focused on Phoebe’s eye, which is important in cat photography. The nearby fur is clearer but I seem to be trying too hard and I got too close to focus accurately.

Phoebe Depth of Field Image 3
Phoebe Depth of Field Disaster. ALL of her is fuzzy.

A Depth of Field Success

In this image, I have Phoebe and her fine whiskers in focus and you can clearly see her features. Phoebe’s eye, fur and whiskers are nicely sharp.

This image has not been edited. I might have been able to sharpen her face a little bit more, if I needed to using Affinity Photo or Photoshop Elements.

Phoebe Depth of Field Image 2

Learning Depth of Field Summary

What I did when I was learning about Depth of Field was remember when a setting had been successful. If I intend to take a cat closeup I remember that I can adjust my 50 mm lens to f2.8 or f4. For a shot that is sharper overall experiment with f14f22. I tried not to worry about the technical side of the setting until I felt ready to do some reading.

You can do the same. When you feel ready read in more depth. To start, enjoy learning how to give your cat a cool soft focus background. You can make them look awesome so easily. Give it a try.

10 thoughts on “Lets Talk About Depth of Field”

  1. I do the DOF when I am doing macros of wildflowers usually. But I need to try with Katie. YOU are just the best adviser in the CB …or anywhere. I know I told you that before but you do it so a fella can understand and follow!!

  2. I love how you breakdown something that could be very complicated to non-photographers into easy-to-learn steps. This is awesome! I personally love depth-of-field. I used to love to shoot some of those with my Huskies. Now, I try to do some of this with photographing my grandchildren. GREAT post (as always!)

  3. This is so helpful! I could never tell which f-stop to use. You just made it so simple. Thank you!

  4. This makes a lot of sense! I rarely use a ‘real’ camera because it is too confusing. Getting ready to bring it out again for some photo shoots!

  5. Your tips are always so interesting but I forget them when I take photos but I have decided with my new dog when I adopt is going to have better photos and I am going to reread a lot of your posts. Thanks as always

  6. You always inspire me! This is a great tutorial on depth of field and how to use it. Just the other day I was thinking I need to break down and buy a camera since my phone is past its prime. As I read more and more from you on how to take great photos, even of dark-colored furry kids, I’m itching to get an actual camera and then go back through your posts. I’m sharing this one with all my pet parents. I’m certain they will enjoy it as much as me.

  7. That was sure interesting, so many things I thought I knew but didn’t. Thanks for joining Angel Brian’s Thankful Thursday Blog Hop!

  8. Since I use mostly my iPhone and my Canon is not manually adjustable, I guess I have to let be what will be! I use portrait mode sometimes, which makes the background less in focus…but its sometimes very hard to get good images that way…and it will not allow me to do closeups. Have to be about 8 feet away to use portrait mode with thew phone.

    Great explanation, though!

  9. Thank you for explaining. I will try now to decide when things need to be sharp and when not. That will be my start.


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