Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Shallow Depth of Field

I love being part of our Clickin’ Moms Challenge Circle. So much inspiration from fellow photographers all over the country and the slightest push to make me look through the lens in a different way.

This month’s challenge was shallow depth of field. Depth of field refers to the area within your photo that is in focus; whatever is not in focus is outside your depth of field. I LOVE a shallow depth of field (usually referred to as DOF). My quest for some boken was the impetus for my first SLR. I find an image with every thing in focus often falls flat and feels less dimensional. However Aidan will often look at an image I love and say, “Bummer, part of it is blurry.”

Some subjects easily lend themselves to a shallow depth of field. When you want emphasis, especially on something small or subtle, your DOF can provide exactly what you want.

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Insects and bugs for example.


Flowers and food.

strawberrys SDOF

Of course, as a portrait photographer, my favorite use of a shallow depth of field is in a close up of one person. Here’s Sean at age six.

IMG_sean edit

Duke has taught me a lot about DOF, as dogs provide a particular challenge. It was easy enough when he was a puppy.

Duke web

See how the grass is all blurry, with what is called boken, and yet Duke’s face is in focus? That’s the goal. But then Duke went through his awkward pre-teen age and his whole face stretched out so that I can’t have quite as shallow a depth of field if I want both his eyes and nose in focus.


See how just the end of his face is in focus above.

web duke at 7 months

Here’s a happy medium. Background is still blurred but all his facial features are in focus.

I love using SDOF to emphasis certain facial features, such as Nolie’s outrageous eyelashes in this recent shot.

web2013 06 02_Nolie's eyelashes

The grand prize subject though for shallow depth of field, for me, will always be baby toes. I love a sharp focus on toes while the rest of the baby is blurred.

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Some one once told me that you know your boys aren’t babies any more once you no longer want to kiss their toes---because their feet are so stinky.

But newborn toes are like human gumdrops---sweet and innocent.

Please continue through the blog circle to see how other photographers interpreted the challenge, starting with Tabitha Safdi of North Carolina and her post on Shallow Depth of Field.

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