BUILDING STRONG PHOTOGRAPHS:
the fourth in a series of four
Using Controlled Depth of Field
 
Depth of field determines how much of the picture is relatively sharp in front of and beyond our prime focus point. Depth of field (DOF) is set with the aperture control on our camera or lens. Controlled depth of field is the creative use of DOF. It's a powerful tool once we 'get it' and start using it to help build our photos. Click here for more detailed and complete explanation of DOF.
If you already understand the concept of DOF, then disregard the above link and move on to the examples below. 
 


I made the above images with a 28mm lens set at f1.8 - 1/25th sec - ISO 400. The wide open aperture setting kept the foreground relatively sharp while blurring the background. This element of composition is called 'controlled depth of field'.


Glenn, 401 Richmond Ave. Toronto

The background in this location was quite busy and might have been a distraction. By using an aperture of 1.8 with a 50mm lens I was able to blur the background to the degree that I felt it would still contribute but not distract. This is controlling the depth of field.
Deliberate Practice

To practice Controlled Depth of Field is easy - go outside; then simply set your zoom lens to around 25 - 30mm or use a medium wide angle prime lens. Now focus on something in the scene around 10 - 15 ft. away. Now, without changing the focus, do series of exposures of the same scene starting at f1.8 (if you have it), then, f2.8, f4, f5.6, f8, f11 and f16.  Now upload to your computer to study how CDOF impacts the pictures.

CLICK HERE   if you want to see a video that goes into much deeper detail about controlled depth of field.

Some thoughts about composition

"Composition is the process of identifying and arranging visual elements to produce a coherent image. Everything in an image forms it's 'composition'. Learning composition is like learning a language. Once you've learned a language, it's not something you consciously think about as you talk. Photographers should learn to become fluent in the language of composition."

Quoted from the awesome book, 'Composition' by David Präkel. Available for free at the amazing and ever useful Toronto Public Library. Another, more advanced, book you might want to look at from the library is 'Larry Fink on composition and improvisation'.
There is no end to the books, workshops and You Tube videos on how to build strong pictures. In the end, as usual, photographer extraordinaire, Ansel Adams may have the last word when he says:

"There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs."


 
What have we looked at so far? Some review.
 
Click here to look at the Linear Perspective article.
 
Click here to look at the Dominant Foreground Contributing Background article.
 
Click here to look at the Rule of Thirds article.
 
Thanks for looking at my article

I appreciate you taking the time to look at the article and always take suggestions regarding information or topics you'd like to see. Email me anytime to keep in touch or share about projects you're working on or comments you'd like to make.

michael@michaelobrienphoto.com
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Michael O'Brien photographer| 416 778 6521| m ichael@michaelobrienphoto.com  www.michaelobrienphoto.com