Understanding Shallow Depth of Field

By Amy

Oct 04

how football & photography are connected

Does the photography concept of shallow depth of field have you stumped?

Once you read this, I know you'll finally grasp the concept.

There's only 1 thing you have to understand before reading this article...

Are you familiar with the field for American Football?  If you aren't sure of where the goal line is or how the yardage is numbered, Google a football field and then continue reading.

It will ALL make sense afterwards!!

Understanding Shallow Depth of Field | blog photography | website photos | photo tips | smartphone photography | smartphone photo tips | food photography | product photography | entrepreneurial photo tips | DOF |

Shallow Depth of Field Felt Tricky...at first.


There was a point in time when I was completely stumped on how cameras determine shallow depth of field.  

I didn't understand that they work on planes....and no I don't mean the kind that fly you across the globe.

I mean a plane as in a slice of the scene that is equidistant from your camera.  

Once I understood this, understanding how to keep my subjects in focus, particularly when there were several, became so much easier.

If you're using a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you'll be able to set your camera settings so that you'll be able to create a shallow depth of field without anything additional.

Those who are using a newer smartphone, you MAY have the ability to use a special function on your camera to create this same effect.  

If you smartphone isn't that advanced, then can create the same look with an app called After Focus.

What's great is that you can find it on Android (FREE) and iOS ($0.99) and it works quite well.

I have tutorials showing you how to use After Focus on iOS and on Android.  See how easy it can be to create a professional looking photo from your smartphone!

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Shallow depth of field demystified. You'll get it after reading this. #photobasics #smartphonephotos #blogphotos

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Understanding Shallow Depth of Field | blog photography | website photos | photo tips | smartphone photography | smartphone photo tips | food photography | product photography | entrepreneurial photo tips | DOF |

Shallow Depth of Field Demystified


You probably don't even realize what it's called, but I'm sure you've admired the look. 

Shallow depth of field is that look you often see professional photographers create with their fancy cameras where the subject is in focus, but the background is blurred out.  This can also be called a bokeh effect.

If you're confused on how this works or how you can create this type of effect with your smartphone, let me explain how your camera assesses it...if you had a fancy one.

Imagine a football field.

Imagine you're standing on the goal line (the line that if the ball crosses will create a touchdown)  and your subject is standing on the 10 yard line.

You place your focus on your subject and snap the picture.  The result would have the where you're standing blurred out.

As the scene transitions from the 1 yard line towards the subject on the 10 yard line, it will gradually become in focus until it is fully in focus at the subject.  

Then as it moves from the 11 yard line towards the 20 yard line it will again transition from in focus to blurry again.  

Anything standing on the 10 yard line will remain in focus.  Anything slightly in front of or behind will not be quite a crisp.  

This is what is meant by the camera working in planes.  Each yard line is a different plane. 

I hope that helps!  I know I struggled with this concept for awhile until I grasped the idea of the planes.  

It doesn't matter how many things are on the same plane.  All you need to remember is that anything slightly off that plane will not be as in focus!

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About the Author

Amy is the owner extraordinaire at Learn Blog Photography and Amy Paris Photography. She's a single mom to an amazing teenage son. She's passionate about photography and skiing (downhill), the faster the better! Sign up for a FREE 30-min call to light up your photos & biz! bit.ly/2udzBXB