The main shooting mode dial on your camera has the letter(s) A or Av (depending on the camera system that you wield). As you probably know by now, this stands for the Aperture Priority mode. Aperture priority mode gives you the creative control over the aperture you select for your images. Aperture, as you must be aware off, refers to the small opening at the front of the lens through which light gets inside a camera. It is often compared with the pupil of the eye. It is an appropriate comparison. Aperture is expressed in f-stops. It is written like this – f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6 and so on. The numerator is the focal length of a lens and the denominator is the diameter of the opening of the lens.

The size of the opening (aperture) controls what is known in photography – the Depth of Field. You may have already heard about it. If you haven’t, it is referred as the extent of an image that appears acceptably sharp. Depth of Field (DoF) can be either shallow or large. Both have creative uses. In this article we shall be looking at a few situations and discuss the appropriateness of the aperture value used in such situations and in the process discuss about the creative uses of depth of field.

As has already been mentioned DoF varies according to the size of the aperture. But there is a small twist in the tale. Smaller aperture creates larger Depth of Field and conversely larger aperture creates shallow (smaller) Depth of Field. Here is an example.

creative uses of shallow depth of field

By decreasing the distance between the subject and lens a shallow depth of field was produced, even though the aperture was small. Photo by Rajib Mukherjee

 

In the image above, however, the f-stop used was f/5.6. This is neither a small f-stop nor a big one. Somewhere in the middle. What I have done is while using an aperture of f/5.6 I have also stepped in close to my subject. In doing so I have changed the ratio of distance between the subject and my lens and with that of the subject and the background. This is another critical factor for producing a shallow DoF. Step in close to your subject to blur the background (and foreground). If I had used a wider aperture like f/3.5 I would have been able to blur the foreground / background even further.

The reason I wanted to blur the background was so that I could isolate the subject against a background that was not very attractive. For those who are interested, the image was shot in Raghurajpur – a heritage village in Orissa famous for a style of painting known as Patachitra.

Speaking of blurring here’s is an example of how a small aperture can be used to selectively emphasize a specific area of a larger scene.

 

selective focusing using large aperture

This is an example of how you can choose to selectively focus on a specific area of an image and make a creative composition – Photo by Rajib Mukherjee

 

You don’t always have to isolate a subject against the background. Sometimes the entire frame deserves your utmost attention and that means you need to use an aperture that produces a large DoF. One area where a large DoF is frequently used is in landscapes. Vast sweeping meadows, seascapes and even cityscapes are some of the areas where large DoFs are regularly in use. But there are uses beyond these as well.

 

Examples of large depth of field

Large DoF is used when you need the entire image to be sharp in focus, as has been done here – Photo by Rajib Mukherjee

 

The image above was shot at f/6.3. This is a small enough aperture to create a sharp photo of a wall painting at the aforementioned village. This wall painting style typical of Orissa has been passed down from one generation to another for hundreds of years.

Large depth of field

Another use of a large depth of field – Photo by Rajib Mukherjee

 

Another example of a vast Depth of Field when you need it to highlight something in its entirety in front of you. This is an image painted on specially made (by hand) fabric and using colors which are also produced from natural ingredients. This image captures the beauty of the artist’s vision reproduced such masterfully over countless painstaking hours. A typical painting like this size roughly 2.5’ by 1.5’ takes somewhere between 1-2 months to produce.

DoF is an interesting attribute that you can use creatively in your photography and to accentuate the subject of your photo. There is no given rule as to when one should use a small or a large DoF. It all depends on the subject and your vision as to how you wish to represent what you see in front of you.

Rajib Mukherjee

Rajib Mukherjee

Rajib’s love for the road is second only to his love for photography. Wanderlust at heart and a shutterbug who loves to document his travels via his lenses; his two passions compliment each other perfectly. He has been writing for over 6 years now, which unsurprisingly, revolve mostly around his two favourite pursuits.
Rajib Mukherjee

You may also like

Ben Novoselsky August 21, 2014

Tips for Shooting Fireworks Photos

Every Independence Day, or even Memorial or Labor Day, it’s common — a given, even — to see ...

Ben Novoselsky July 18, 2016

How to Work with Leading Lines in Your Photography

Leading lines are one of the most important aspects of photography. They have the power to draw a ...

Rajib Mukherjee August 6, 2016

Essential Tips to Improve your Photography

If you have recently migrated from a compact point & shoot to a DSLR you no doubt will be very ...

Rajib Mukherjee October 6, 2014

Everyday photography ideas

I wrote a detailed article on the topic of photographic inspiration recently. The aim was to keep ...

Rajib Mukherjee October 3, 2016

Getting Started in Low Light Photography

Introducing Low Light Photography
For those of you who primarily shoot with a smartphone or even a ...

Ben Novoselsky August 12, 2016

About Flash Sync Speed Limitations and How to Work Around It

We often hear about flash sync speed and how we normally cannot use a flash to sync at extremely ...

Rajib Mukherjee January 19, 2015

Light Painting in Photography: An Introduction

Light painting is a very interesting technique in photography that predominantly uses artificial ...

Rajib Mukherjee September 26, 2014

Don’t copy the masters’ style blindly, create your own style

Growing up as photographers one of the biggest source of guidance are the works created by already ...

Ben Novoselsky May 2, 2016

How Does Hyperfocal Distance Affect Your Images?

Landscape photographers often use the terms focusing distance and hyperfocal distance in relation ...

Rajib Mukherjee March 3, 2017

A Beginner’s Guide to Shoot Environmental Portraits

As a genre, environmental portraits are a challenge of sorts for most photographers. It is because ...

Rajib Mukherjee July 31, 2015

How to use the Panning mode in photography

Panning is the technique of going with the flow of a moving subject to make images. The movement of ...

Ben Novoselsky August 9, 2016

How to Use Backlighting to Isolate Your Subject

I love shooting with backlighting. Backlighting is one of those acquired tastes in photography that ...

Rajib Mukherjee September 11, 2016

An Introduction to Hyper-lapse

What is a Hyper-lapse?
Hyper-lapse is one of those cool photography techniques which uses a ...

Rajib Mukherjee August 30, 2016

Introducing Canon Dual Pixel RAW Technology

Last week, the much awaited Canon 5D Mark IV made its debut. The rumor mills have been abuzz for ...

Ben Novoselsky October 27, 2014

7 Silly Mistakes I Made as an Amateur Photographer

1. Leaving the lens cap on

Amateurs are guilty of making some of the most cardinal of mistakes. ...

Ben Novoselsky April 20, 2015

Low angle photography tips

One of the least used perspectives in photography is the low angle. I bet every photographer thinks ...

Rajib Mukherjee May 1, 2015

Five features on your DSLR camera that you probably never use

Your camera comes with three handy metering systems. If you are using a Canon system camera yours ...

Ben Novoselsky November 13, 2015

Shooting Wide Panorama of Cities

Even with a wide angle lens you need to realize that there is no way that you can shoot a wide ...

Rajib Mukherjee November 26, 2015

Photographing a landmark at night

Often, when traveling through a foreign land we find ourselves in front of an iconic building or ...

Ben Novoselsky August 6, 2014

Auto Exposure Bracketing: Everything You Wanted to Know


Multiple camera shots with different expose combined in HDR photo
by sumitrodda


If you are just starting out in digital photography, you have probably never heard about auto exposure bracketing (AEB). If you are an enthusiast photographer, probably you have heard about this but never quite mastered the concept to use it with confidence. Regardless of your expertise in digital photography this article can help you master an extremely important feature of your DSLR, i.e.; auto exposure bracketing (AEB).

Читать дальше...

Ben Novoselsky September 12, 2014

The Basic Rules of Photography and Common Mistakes

Everyone, even professionals, makes mistakes, although their mistakes are rare and usually caused ...

Rajib Mukherjee July 23, 2015

Understanding ISO, the least understood of the three exposure parameters

If you look at the main aspects that govern exposure, you would obviously realize that there are ...

Rajib Mukherjee March 22, 2016

How to Photograph Christmas Lights

Watching the Diwali lights come on one by one, at each house in our colony I couldn’t stop thinking ...

Rajib Mukherjee February 25, 2015

How to Make Your Backgrounds Blurred

Sometimes you may need to blur out the background of your images. Let’s say you are shooting ...

Rajib Mukherjee May 22, 2015

What is Focus Stacking?

Landscape photographers are obsessed with the idea of sharp images. They use a multitude of methods ...

Rajib Mukherjee September 6, 2016

Basic Real Estate Photo Tips

The following real estate photo tips will help you to get started as a professional photographer. ...

Rajib Mukherjee September 17, 2016

How to Bounce an On-camera External Flash to Produce Better Images

Having purchased your first external flash you must be super-excited. You must be experimenting ...

Kelsey Fox December 18, 2014

How Properly Holding Your Camera Can Lead to Better Photos

The way you hold your camera is almost as important as choosing the right kind of camera to shoot ...

Ben Novoselsky August 3, 2014

5 Useful Tips for Making Great Images in Low Light

Cameras like the Canon 5D Mark III and the Nikon D3X have completely changed the playing field when ...

Ben Novoselsky January 7, 2015

How editing your stock photography can lead to more sales

Before you can start selling your images on microstock websites you ought to know a few things ...

Rajib Mukherjee March 21, 2016

Lighting techniques for shooting in studio environment

A studio setup allows you to be creative in ways you could never ever manage without lights. There ...

Rajib Mukherjee April 19, 2016

Choosing the Best Travel Photography Lens

A lot of amateur photographers find it difficult to zero in on the best travel photography lens for ...

Rajib Mukherjee December 9, 2015

Noise Reduction in Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom is probably the most preferred of all post processing tools out there. It is the ...

Kelsey Fox June 29, 2014

6 Tips for Shooting in Harsh Light

Whether they dabble in photography or shoot with the pros, most photographers know that there is no ...

Rajib Mukherjee April 5, 2016

Five Ways You Can Use An External Flash In Outdoor Shooting

This article is meant for photographers who want to learn how to use an external flash in outdoor ...

Rajib Mukherjee October 10, 2014

An introduction to creating timelapse videos

Timelapse videos have become somewhat clichéd these days with an increasing number of photographers ...

Rajib Mukherjee October 9, 2016

Advantage Of Shooting Film In The Digital Age

Old But Not Obsolete
The dawn of digital sensor also brought in the demise of film. In many ways ...

Ben Novoselsky August 19, 2016

Why You Should Invest in a Tripod

There are probably a hundred reasons why you should invest in a tripod. I am not going to detail ...

Ben Novoselsky January 7, 2016

Product Photography Tips to Get Started

Apart from portraiture, product photography is one of those few genres which can provide a steady ...

Rajib Mukherjee April 23, 2015

Benefits of joining a photography class

Digital photography is a vast field of specialized knowledge. Well, even if not many ...

Ben Novoselsky May 11, 2015

Understanding Lens Vignetting

A technical term that you are likely to hear a lot is lens vignetting. Lens vignetting (sometimes ...

Ben Novoselsky October 6, 2016

Some Basic Food Photography Tips

If you are a genuine foodie it would be a natural transgression to want to shoot images of the ...

Rajib Mukherjee September 7, 2014

Understanding the Basics of a Good Exposure

Exposure is the key concept that governs all forms of photography where light in some form or the ...

Ben Novoselsky December 23, 2015

Outdoor Photography Beyond the Golden Hour

Landscape photographers love shooting during the golden hour of the day. They love the warm mushy ...

Ben Novoselsky April 6, 2017

Correct Framing in Portrait Photography

Framing is an integral part of the whole process of image making. Be it landscapes, or portraits or ...

Ben Novoselsky September 17, 2015

About focal length and background distortion

You may have heard professionals talking about the right focal length and how choosing anything ...

Rajib Mukherjee September 25, 2014

Photography inspiration: How to keep shooting images

As an amateur we see images taken by photographers like Eric Kim or Jeremy Cowart or Chase Jarvis ...

Rajib Mukherjee September 8, 2015

Great Images Come From Great Underlying Stories

I am a photographer who loves making photos of people and places. So every now and then I pack my ...

Ben Novoselsky July 14, 2015

Five Natural Light Shooting Tips

You may have heard, nature and natural light photographers often say this – you must head out at ...

Ben Novoselsky March 25, 2015

The Use of Diagonal Lines in Photography Composition

We often read about the creative uses of lines in photography. The horizon line is one such oft ...

Ben Novoselsky April 25, 2016

How do you tweak the Sunny 16 Rule in Photography?

You are out with your family on a bright sunlit day. The kind of day on which photographers prefer ...

Ben Novoselsky July 28, 2016

Why Adjusting White Balance Can Lead to a Better Image

One of the challenges faced by photographers on a daily basis is adjusting white balance of their ...

Popular posts

Rajib Mukherjee 1210

7 Tips to Shooting Great Portrait Photographs

Portrait photography is like a bread and butter thing for professional photographers. No matter ...

Kelsey Fox 808

8 Unique Ideas for Wedding Photos

A new spouse, a new last name, and photos - the three must-have takeaways of any wedding. Though ...

Rajib Mukherjee 633

How to Get Started in Wedding Photography – Part 2

Compositions are everything in wedding photography; at least when you are not shooting candid ...

Ben Novoselsky 625

4 Methods to Get White Balance of Your Images Correct

Image before white balance correction

Are you plagued with the problem of strange color casts ...

Savannah Eaddy 625

Tutorial: How to Smooth Skin in Photoshop

In this tutorial I will show you how to use different filters in photoshop to smooth out skin and ...

Ben Novoselsky 625

The Use of Diagonal Lines in Photography Composition

We often read about the creative uses of lines in photography. The horizon line is one such oft ...

Ben Novoselsky 624

5 Useful Tips for Making Great Images in Low Light

Cameras like the Canon 5D Mark III and the Nikon D3X have completely changed the playing field when ...

Ben Novoselsky 624

Portrait Photography Lighting Tips

Portrait photography, especially when we talk about studio portrait photography, as a genre, is ...

Kelsey Fox 624

Low Light and the Wildlife Photographer: How to Take a Photo an Editor Can Work With

Wildlife photographers are faced with a unique set of challenges. Not only do they often have to ...