The Art of Photography for All

how does the aperture affect the depth of field in your photos

How the aperture or F Stop affects the depth of field

The DEPTH OF FIELD is the portion of your image that is in focus versus the portion of the image that is not in focus. The first thing that affects it is your APERTURE or F STOP. This is a little more specific to DSLR’s, but it also applies to point and shoots in AV mode – aperture priority mode. Auto mode and phones still use the concept but you won’t be able to control it.

The F stop you can use will depend on the range of the lens that you are using. The lower the number like F1.8 or F2.8, the shallower the depth of field. The higher the number, the more will be in focus in your image, going all the way to infinity with a bigger number like F16 or F22. Something really interesting about a bigger number (which actually means that the opening that lets in the light onto the sensor is smaller, kind of backwards I know) will give a star effect to the sun or lights. You will get all of the pretty rays.

How much of your background do you want to see clearly or do you want to blur out? How many people are in your image and what F stop do you need to use to make sure that everyone is in focus and all eyes are sharp? Or do you want to focus on one person and are you ok with the others being out of focus?

Shooting fully manual can be a little tricky at first, which is why AV mode is your best stepping stone while learning to use your camera. It will allow you to choose that one aspect of your camera settings and will do the rest of the work for you.

A lot of this is about trial and error and as you gain experience, you will be able to plan for how much will be in focus for certain settings.

🔹The picture above was taken at F2.8 to get a nice blurred background 🔹

how does the distance from your subject and zoom affect the depth of field in your photos

How the distance and zoom affect the depth of field

I combined the other two factors that affect the DEPTH OF FIELD because I feel like they really play off each other. How much you ZOOM in and how much DISTANCE there is between you and your subject.

This is pretty straight forward. If you want a really blurred background, get closer to your subject and zoom right in. A telephoto lens will allow you to do that best. A 70-200mm is a pretty standard telephoto lens for portrait photography, but there are all sorts of lenses that zoom in way more than that, used for wildlife or sports photography for example.

If you want to see more of your background or want a larger area in focus, if you are photographing more people for instance, back up and put more distance between you and your subject, and zoom out. I like using my 24-70mm lens when I want more in focus or if I want a more panoramic view of the scenery where I am taking the photo. So the lower the number, the wider the angle. Again, you can go lower than 24mm, but you have to be careful with portraits because the wide angle will cause distortion on the sides of your photo so it is a good idea to keep the subject closer to the middle of the frame.

I used these two photos as examples because they were taken around the same time, with the same lens, and the same F stop, F2.8. But in the first one, I am closer to the family and I zoomed in more. In the second, I am further away and I used a wider angle. The result is very different as the first one has a much shallower depth of field (less is in focus, the background is more blurred) and a lot more is in focus in the second one.

How does this apply to phone and point and shoot users? Well you might not be able to control the F stop, but these two things you sure can. Notice how much you can blur out the background in a phone photo when you get really close to your subject.

how to use the three factors that affect the depth of field, the aperture, the distance between you and your subject and how much you zoom in, to your advantage

How to use out of focus elements to create a more interesting image

Now that you know about the three factors that influence the DEPTH OF FIELD, the aperture, the distance between you and your subject and how much you zoom in, let’s talk about using that to your advantage. How to use OUT OF FOCUS ELEMENTS to make your photo more interesting. That can happen in the background and in the foreground.

1) If your background is blurred out, you will create more separation between your subject and everything else, making it the main focus.

2) If something is really close to your lens, in front of your subject, you can use it to add colour to the photo or to frame your subject. The closer something is to your camera, the more it will be blurred out, especially if your focus is on something that is fairly far away. Oftentimes, you can’t even tell what you used to create the effect! Another thing that is super interesting is if you position yourself really close to a building or a fence and your subject is a little ways down, also placed against the building or fence, you can create a blurred line that slowly comes into focus as you get closer to your subject, then slowly goes back out of focus. Notice how I have referred back to framing and guiding lines from several weeks ago!? I love that when you dig deeper into photography, a lot of it starts coming together. By applying different techniques to the same image, you can craft a quality photograph.

3) If you want to get really creative, you can even focus on the background and have your subject completely blurred out. Now we are entering the territory of breaking the rules. But once you know the rules and understand them, you can get really creative by breaking them and sometimes achieve some incredible results. I definitely have a thing for a completely blurred out person in front of a mountain or cotton candy sky that is in focus!

How to find hidden gems and maximize a location for all that it has to offer

Let’s talk about hidden gems or maximizing a location for all that it has to offer

Every location has a main feature that you will immediately want to work with, where you will want to photograph your family – main attractions, a landmark, the main area in a park or a dominant architectural feature of a building. Of course I want to get that shot. But I also want to find areas that are completely overlooked by most, and go there. Some of my best travel pictures are taken on side streets, in quaint parks, totally off the beaten path. I find that asking people who know the area is always a good way to go about it. Asking locals when traveling. Or simply taking your time and wandering around until something really jumps out at you. For a photographer, that usually means scouting out locations prior to bringing clients there. For someone traveling, that means putting down the tourist attraction map and going with the flow.

In this case, I really wish that I could thank the really helpful lady who works at the Central Library. She came up to us and asked if we had checked out that one area yet. When she described it, I had no idea what she was talking about! But we went up and walked in a corner that I thought led to nowhere to find these really unique filing cabinets and so much natural light. And the hallway that leads in the other direction was just as amazing so I made sure to snap shots on both sides.

Slowing down, exploring, trusting helpful input from people who know the place, thinking outside of the box, realizing that there is beauty in everything, in all of the small details, that it is not always about the dominant features of a place. This is how you are going to allow yourself to create unique images that will make people wonder, “where did you take that photo?”

I would also love some feedback! Comment bellow with your thoughts on this or suggestions of topics you would like me to cover.

Valerie Richer

2 Replies to “The Art of Photography for All”

  1. This is really interesting information and timely as my daughter decided to go ahead with her wedding this Saturday after all although now much smaller and in our backyard so didn’t have time to hire a photographer. I will try these tricks and hopefully they will work with my iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

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