Depth of Field


DOF is probably one of the most dramatic examples of how learning to effectively utilize Equivalent Exposures will improve your photography.


Photo 2+ - Your assignment is to build a Gallery of Effective Examples of Depth of Field: Shallow and Deep. So, be sure to review all available resources, including this page and the assignment at the bottom of the page. We will do some lecturing on this subject in the 1st 6 weeks, although the specific shooting will be in the 2nd 6 weeks. Although some class time will be dedicated to shooting the Digital Practice, you are expected to shoot for DOF OUTSIDE of class and your gallery should reflect images from OUTSIDE of class.



WEB GALLERY - Create a gallery to display your work with Depth of Field showing effective SHALLOW and DEPTH Depth of field (DOF) for subjects that would ordinarily be the opposite. Examples, illustrating effective use of both types, from DURING class and OUT of class, should be in your gallery. The examples of Deep D of F should be those that COULD have been shallow...but you forced a deeper DOF by controlling the aperture, etc. You do NOT need to put examples of DEEP Depth of Field when DEEP is typical, like a far off subject with a wide lens. This gallery is on going, meaning that examples will come from our class shooting last 6 weeks and any time you shoot for DOF.







The following is a presentation generated by the former teacher...and has some useful examples.



Remember, there are three things that control Depth of Field (from a recent FaceBook posting):

Technically, while Marty's explanation is sound, the focal length is more of a factor. IOW, if you have a long lens, you are going to have relatively shallower DOF regardless of what aperture you use.


DOF Worksheet -

Screen shot


Exposure Stops



Minimum Shutter Speed and the affect of AutoISO systems:



Depth-of-Field Shooting Assignment


  1. Standing along something like a wall, like bricks, a fence, lockers, bleachers, etc. The wall should run at about a 5 to 30 degree angle to the film.
    1. Wide open (f/4 or larger)
    2. Closed down (f/22 or small as possible)
  2. Really close to a subject at wide angle (18mm)
    1. Wide open (f/4 or larger)
    2. Closed down (f/22 or small as possible)
   3.  Fairly close to a subject (less than 5'), at 200mm, with a simple background. 55mm ACAP.
    1. Wide open (f/5.6 or larger)

                                         i.      When working with shallow-depth of field and a telephoto lens, watch your focus your DOF will be inches…or less.

    1. Closed down (f/22 or smaller if possible)…you may need to increase your ISO…or use a tripod






Answers: - For checking ONLY. DO NOT just copy these answers.

Review: Three ways to control DOF: 1) Subject to camera distance 2) Aperture 3) Focal length

  1. 1. Although it depends on the lens, there will be little effect from changing to f22 because being CLOSE to the subject will impact he DOF the most. This would be especially true if you were using a Long Lens.

  2. Check the Shutter Speed to make sure that it is 1) a suitable speed, especially if handheld, and 2) that the exposure is even possible. Sometimes, working with extreme apertures (in either direction...specifically in Aperture Priority Mode) will result in the camera unable to match with the appropriate speed. This usually happens in one of two scenarios: 1) You are trying to use f1.4 in broad day light resulting in a shutter speed faster than your camera can produce, like you can only get 1/4000 but you need 1/8000. You would probably need to use a Polarizer or Neutral Density filter. 2) You are trying to use f22 at night and your camera needs a 60 second exposure and you can only get it to give you a 30 sec exposure. This would require you to use BULB and a shutter release (wired or remote).

  3. Slow is NOT a problem. Slow just means that the aperture might need to be closed down to get a good exposure. But if it is slow, then you will need to be on a tripod, or you will get blurry pictures. However, if your camera is indicating UNDER exposure, you picture will probably turn out too dark.

  4. Zoom in is the simple answer, but the idea is that if you have already zoomed in with your current lens, you need to switch to a telephoto lens, and zoom in some more.

  5. The idea is that at longer focal lengths, you need MORE light so you can get to the faster shutter speeds. But, the probably is that zoom lenses, especially the cheap one, but even the expensive ones, let in less light. Further compounded by the fact that the need for longer lenses in sports or wildlife is usually done in low lighting. So, you have THREE challenges 1) You NEED more light because of the longer focal length. 2) The lens let's in less light and 3) You are generally shooting in lower lighting conditions.

  6. Deep. The operative word is LONG ways away using a NORMAL lens. For example, shooting a landscape with trees and mountains. Everything is going to be in focus.

  7. Long lenses generally give shallower depth of field. So, given the same scene above, you will get SHALLOWER.

  8. It is important to control Depth of Field to either 1) Isolate your subject from the background, or 2) put two things into focus that might have otherwise been in focus.

  9. Make sure that you take extra precautions to stabilize the camera with smooth steady shutter actuations.


  1. 1/30

  2. 1/15

  3. 1/30

  4. 50mm...none blank

  5. 1/125

  6. 1/125

  7. 1/250

  8. 1/250, 1/500

Short Answer Pneumonic

Large is FAST, Small is Slow

Big # = Small Opening

CloseUp is Shallow

Far Away is Deep

Long Lens has Shallow and Short Lens has Deep DOF