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Tips & Tricks

Depth of Field Video Tutorial

By Christopher Lin on July 21st 2011

They’ve done it again! Mark and the folks over at AdoramaTV have done a near-perfect explanation of depth of field.My favorite aspect of this video is the equal emphasis on each of the three factors, aperture, focal length, and distance from the subject.

People often talk about depth-of-field with an emphasis on aperture only.For example, in a wedding photography tutorial that I recently read, the photographer gave the advice to use higher apertures during family formals when there is more than one row of subjects for a deeper depth of field.While this is sound advice, it’s incomplete because it doesn’t mention the other two factors, focal length and distance from the subject.In practice, if that photographer were in a dark setting and he needed every bit of light, two solutions other than raising the aperture would be 1) to step back and 2) to zoom out.  But anyways, back to the point, check the video out!

To see all of the photos taken on his shoot, check out their flickr page.

The video breaks depth of field down into its three components: 1) Aperture, 2) Focal Length and 3) Distance from the Subject.In each of these images, pay close attention to the trees in the background and see how the different apertures, focal lengths, and distances from the subject affect the amount of blur.

Aperture

General rule: The lower the aperture (the wider the opening), the shallower the depth of field, while the higher the aperture (the smaller the opening), the deeper the depth of field. Check out these screen shots from Mark’s Video for a visual representation.

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depth-of-field-tutorial

Focal Length

General rule: The higher the focal length (the more zoomed-in), the shallower the depth of field, while the lower the focal length (the more zoomed-out), the deeper the depth of field.

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Distance From the Subject

General rule: The closer you are to your subject, the shallower the depth of field, while the further you are to your subject, the deeper the depth of field. Again, here are some screenshots to help illustrate this concept.

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Adorama TV and their tutorial series is a highly recommended resource for those learning photography and we hope that you check it out!

Co-Founder of SLR Lounge and Photographer with Lin and Jirsa Photography, I’m based in Southern California but you can find me traveling the world. Click here to connect on Google +

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joseph Prusa

    Good tutorial.

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  2. Jess

    Your posts are awesome :)x

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  3. Jason Sharp

    Great examples. Interestingly I’ve heard a popular photographer repeatedly recommend using a longer focal length to get shallower depth of field. They seem to disregard the fact that increasing the distance to the subject to keep a similar composition will balance things out resulting in an equivalent depth of field. Of course doing that changes the perspective and will cut down on how much of the background is in the frame which can be useful.

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  4. Uzzi

    This is extremely helpful for freelance journalists. Thanks a million.

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  5. Lasushi

    Simple & clear explanations for the beginners like me.  

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  6. Lowell Peabody

    I’d like to read the article but cannot as there is an annoying social networking toolbar that seems to float with the text and will NOT go AWAY!!!! What is up with this?!

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