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Depth of field

From: Foundations of Photography: Exposure

Video: Depth of field

So, you can use both shutter speed and aperture to change the amount of light that strikes the sensor. But why would you choose one over the other? As you have seen, in addition to controlling light, when you change shutter speed, you also change how much moving objects in a scene are frozen or blurred. When you change aperture, in addition to controlling brightness, you also get a change in depth of field. Depth of field is a measure of how much of your scene is in focus. Now, you might think, don't I want all of my scene to be in focus? Not necessarily.

Depth of field

So, you can use both shutter speed and aperture to change the amount of light that strikes the sensor. But why would you choose one over the other? As you have seen, in addition to controlling light, when you change shutter speed, you also change how much moving objects in a scene are frozen or blurred. When you change aperture, in addition to controlling brightness, you also get a change in depth of field. Depth of field is a measure of how much of your scene is in focus. Now, you might think, don't I want all of my scene to be in focus? Not necessarily.

By shortening depth of field, you can blur out the background behind your image. Or by deepening your depth of field, you can ensure that everything in your image is in focus. That's something even your eye can't do. One of your most important goals as a photographer is to ensure that the viewer knows how to read your image. And at the simplest level, that means you want to be certain that they know what the subject of your image is. This is the goal of composition: you arrange the elements of your scene, so that there is a definite subject and background. Depth of field is another tool that you have to guide the viewer's eye.

By softening the background, your subject becomes more prominent. In a landscape shot, the landscape itself is often the subject, so you want to be sure that all of it is in focus. Aperture is the key to controlling depth of field. So now, at last, you should be getting an idea of why there are two mechanisms for controlling light. While both aperture and shutter speed can alter the amount of light that strikes your image sensor, they do this in very different ways, which have very different impacts on your final image. Changing shutter speed alters the sense of motion in an image, while changing aperture alters the depth of field.

Together these two parameters give you a tremendous amount of creative power. But to make use of aperture, you need to know how to manually control it on your camera.

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Foundations of Photography: Exposure

64 video lessons · 84830 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 8m 44s
    1. Welcome
      1m 56s
    2. What is exposure?
      4m 8s
    3. A word about camera brands
      2m 40s
  2. 9m 32s
    1. What is a camera?
      2m 53s
    2. The shutter
      3m 53s
    3. The aperture
      1m 33s
    4. Exposure defined
      1m 13s
  3. 13m 50s
    1. Modes
      2m 7s
    2. Pressing the shutter button
      2m 54s
    3. Autofocus
      5m 22s
    4. Light metering
      2m 3s
    5. White balance
      1m 24s
  4. 29m 26s
    1. Shooting sharp images
      1m 58s
    2. Noting shutter speed
      4m 3s
    3. Taking control of shutter speed
      1m 30s
    4. Stop defined
      2m 50s
    5. Shutter priority mode
      4m 34s
    6. Exercise: Shutter speed
      40s
    7. Reciprocity
      3m 13s
    8. Controlling motion
      7m 8s
    9. Shutter speed increments
      2m 21s
    10. Exercise: Go work with shutter speed
      1m 9s
  5. 26m 3s
    1. Depth of field
      1m 53s
    2. How aperture is measured
      2m 42s
    3. Aperture priority mode
      4m 57s
    4. Lens speed
      53s
    5. Shooting deep depth of field
      3m 53s
    6. Shooting shallow depth of field
      2m 50s
    7. The depth-of-field preview button
      4m 24s
    8. How shallow should you be?
      2m 47s
    9. Exercise: Go work with aperture
      1m 44s
  6. 16m 26s
    1. ISO: The third exposure parameter
      6m 27s
    2. Assessing your camera's high ISO
      5m 32s
    3. Shooting in low light
      3m 32s
    4. Exercise: Shooting in low light
      55s
  7. 14m 30s
    1. White balance controls
      5m 37s
    2. Adjusting white balance manually
      4m 25s
    3. Shooting raw
      4m 28s
  8. 6m 3s
    1. How light meters work
      1m 47s
    2. Why are there different modes?
      4m 16s
  9. 33m 59s
    1. Exposure compensation
      4m 0s
    2. Intentional overexposure
      2m 40s
    3. Intentional underexposure
      1m 42s
    4. Controlling tone
      2m 31s
    5. The histogram
      10m 4s
    6. Real-world histograms
      5m 49s
    7. Tone and color
      2m 16s
    8. Auto exposure bracketing
      3m 58s
    9. Exercise: Go work with exposure compensation
      59s
  10. 12m 56s
    1. Dynamic range
      2m 24s
    2. Exposing for highlights
      4m 15s
    3. Fill flash
      3m 11s
    4. Three solutions to the same problem
      3m 6s
  11. 12m 26s
    1. Manual mode
      2m 6s
    2. Manual mode and light meters
      4m 52s
    3. Manual exposure exercise
      5m 28s
  12. 12m 1s
    1. Custom modes and A-DEP
      1m 39s
    2. Program shift
      3m 52s
    3. Exposure compensation with program shift
      1m 58s
    4. An exercise in reciprocity
      53s
    5. Scene modes and in-camera processing
      3m 39s
  13. 8m 16s
    1. Shooting with post production in mind
      3m 46s
    2. Exposure strategy
      3m 51s
    3. Goodbye
      39s

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