Understanding Depth of Field | Avraham Nacher | Skillshare

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Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (13m)
    • 1. Intro to Course

    • 2. General Overview

    • 3. Controlling Depth of Field - Part 1

    • 4. Controlling Depth of Field - Part 2

    • 5. Controlling Depth of Field - Part 3

    • 6. The Depth of Field Calculator

    • 7. Conclusion

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About This Class

Knowing how to get sharp photos and how to control what part of your photo is in focus and what part is blurred is a critical skill of any professional photographer.

In this class, we will learn what causes DoF, the 3 factors you can control to change DoF, have many practical exercises to become an expert in DoF, and conclude with an assignment to demonstrate your new mastery over DoF

Meet Your Teacher

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Avraham Nacher

Procreate Artist, Photographer


Hey there, my name is Avraham. I wear many hats including photographer, illustrator, and calligrapher. Making art can be an incredibly exhilarating experience, but it can also be quite frustrating when experimenting with new techniques and styles. 

In my classes, I clearly explain how to achieve the results you are looking for, and break it down into easily digestible units. I also provide plenty of (optional) mini-homework assignments so you can practice what you've learned.

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1. Intro to Course: Welcome to this Skillshare class on understanding depth of field. Knowing how to get sharp photos and how to control what part of your photo is in focus and what part is blurred is a critical skill of any professional photographer. For this reason, a thorough understanding of depth of field is essential. And it will give you both a valuable skill in curating the photos you want, as well as the confidence to approach whatever photography situation you may find yourself in. In the following videos, we will learn about what causes depth of field, the factors you can control to change it will have many practical exercises to become an expert in depth of field. And we conclude with an assignment to demonstrate your new mastery over this important topic. I look forward to seeing you in the coming videos. 2. General Overview: We'll begin with a general overview of depth of field, explaining what is depth of field and why is it so important? The reason that depth of field exists is because the camera can really only focus at one specific distance from the camera. Aside from that specific distance, there is a range that stretches from in front of and behind that point, which still seems to be in-focus. The area there appears to be in focus before and after that specific point is referred to the depth of field. A way that I like to think of it is like a plane or a piece of glass. With a piece of glass has a thickness. Wherever is in the thickness of the glass is in focus, and the area outside of the glass is blurry. When you change your depth of field, you change the thickness of that plane or the piece of glass of how much it's going to be in focus. Y is being able to control depth of field, so important. First of all, it gives you the creative control over your photographs. You choose how sharp and in focus the different elements will be. It gives you the ability to guide the eye of the viewer. You can choose where the viewer is going to look. In this picture, for example, the eye is immediately drawn to the weed that isn't focused on the right side of the screen. While the bush on the left side of the screen doesn't get the same attention. Typically in nature photography. Photographers like to have as much as possible in focus. That is, they don't use depth of field to guide the viewer through the scene. Rather they use the elements in the scene itself. However, it doesn't have to be a hard and fast rule. And you can choose to have a nature photograph where depth of field does influence where the viewer looks. On the other hand, when it comes to portrait photography, photographers generally preferred to have a shallow depth of field where the subject is in focus and the background is out of focus. By learning how to control depth of field, you can decide how much of the background will be in focus or not. So in the next video, we'll go into depth explaining what influences depth of field and how you can control this important tool. 3. Controlling Depth of Field - Part 1: Perhaps the first and foremost thing that affects depth of field is the camera's aperture. Aperture refers to how open is the lens on your camera. The aperture on the lens is determined by the position of the blades. As you see in the picture here. As the blades get closer together, the amount of light that can reach the sensor of the camera becomes smaller. And as the blades move further apart, the amount of light that reaches the sensor increases when the bleeds are close together. That's called closed or small aperture. And when the blades are further apart, that's an open or wide aperture. What effect does this have on depth of field? Go back to our analogy to the plane or the piece of glass. Shooting with a closed or small aperture is essentially like shooting with a very, very thick piece of glass for everything in that thickness is in-focus. Whereas shooting with a wide open aperture is like shooting where there's a very thin sliver of Glass who's areas and focus. Let's look at some examples to see how changing aperture affects the photograph. So here we have three objects all parallel to the camera lens. Because they are all parallel and equidistant from the camera lens. They all will be in focus. If however, we were too rearrange them so that they are staggered. So then if we were to take a picture with our focus being on the nearest subject, the objects further away become more and more blurry because they are outside of that range of depth of field that is in focus. In the picture we're looking at right now. You can see from the EXIF data that I was shooting an f-stop of 2.8, which is rather wide open. That means that the subject in the front will be in focus and things beyond it will fall out of focus rather quickly. In the next picture, I'm closing down my f-stop to 7.1. And here you can see how items even further away from my subject point are also now coming into focus. And then when I go down to an f-stop of 13, everything is really now in focus. Even though my focus point that I'm tying the camera to focus on is the subject closest to the camera, that girl. Let's put the pictures side-by-side so you can compare at one time how the depth of field is changing. Understanding how aperture affects depth of field is one of the most important things that you can understand and the best way to do it after you have the basic information from watching these videos is to go and do it to actually see for yourself how you can affect your depth of field in your photos. So as an assignment before we start the next video, I want you to get out some objects and place them equidistant from each other. Then focus on either the one closest to you or the one furthest away. And take pictures varying the aperture and see how that affects your photographs. I recommend shooting in aperture priority mode or manual mode when doing these exercises. If you shoot in any other mode. So the camera will actually change your aperture for you and won't give you the control you need, necessary to learn the exercise we're doing here. Have fun, and I'll see you in the next video. 4. Controlling Depth of Field - Part 2: The next thing which photographers typically do to affect the depth of field is by changing their focal distance, otherwise known as focal length. This is done by changing the zoom on your lens. When you're zooming more, you create a shallower depth of field. And when you zoom out, you have a wider depth of field. Let's look at a few pictures to illustrate. In this picture here, which as you can see from the EXIF data that I shot with our focal length of a 100 millimeters. You can see that the girl who was my subject is relatively in focus. And the other two objects, Lesson focus. As I increase my focal distance and now shoot at 200 millimeters. You can see that the girl is still in focus because she is my focus point. But the other two items are now more blurry. And in this last picture, what I zoom in all the way to 300 millimeters. So now you can see that the bird is much more blurry than from where we started. And so while many photographers will use this as a way of controlling depth of field, this may not actually be a true depth of field change. Because if you notice the girl who is the subject in all these pictures gets increasingly larger. And in fact, if we were to take the original picture shot at a 100 millimeters and blow it up. So the subject is now the same size in the photo where the girl is shot at 300 millimeters, the blur on the bird behind would be almost the same. So what's happening is that changing focal distance is magnifying the existing blur. There's occurring at the current depth of field that has caused by your aperture. The aperture is still creating the depth of field. But by changing focal distance, you are magnifying the effect of that depth of field blur. Don't get me wrong. Using focal distance to create depth of field is a very, very important tool. However, realized that it must be used in tandem with changing the aperture. Before going onto the next video, I'd like you to take a few moments to take out your camera again and practice changing focal distance and seeing how that affects your photos. 5. Controlling Depth of Field - Part 3: The third factor that affects depth of field is the distance of the camera lens to the subject. By changing the distance between the lens and the subject. You are essentially changing the ratio between the lens and subject distance and the subject and background distance. I know that speaking about ratios might make your head start to spin. So let's look at some examples to make it more understandable. And next few pictures, the items are placed equidistant from each other and will not be moving. The only thing that will be moving is my camera. In this first picture, I always standing around three meters from the subject, the girl. And as you can see, that an f-stop of 5.6, the girl and the chicken behind her are pretty much in focus and the horse is a little less so. As I take a step forward and refocus on the girl, she is still of course in focus and the chicken gets a little blurrier and the horse even more so. In this last picture, I step even closer to the girl and refocus. Now you can see that the chicken and horse are clearly out of focus. Let's put all three pictures together so you can compare them in one view and see how even though I keep all the settings on my camera, but change the cameras distance from the subject, I have affected depth of field. Now it's your turn. In order to see for yourself how the distance from the lens to subject affects the depth of field. I want you to take some practice pictures. We have items that have equidistance from each other and practice moving closer to the subject in each successive picture. Another thing you could do is how the subject of fixed length from your camera and only change how far the background items are from that subject. One way to do this is hold an item at arm's length from your camera as your subject, taking photos of it and moving around, having backgrounds at different lengths from that subject. Have fun experimenting and I'll see you in the next video. 6. The Depth of Field Calculator: Till now we've had many examples where we've seen the effects of depth of field empirically, that is, by experimenting and seeing the results. However, there are tools you could use as well to be able to accurately predict the depth of field before you start shooting. There are many depth of field tech or their applications. They couldn't have both on the computer and your phone. By entering in the type of camera you have, your focal length, the f-stops you're using, and how far the subject is from the camera. You can find what the estimated depth of field will be. A tool like this can be very helpful when doing nature photography where you have time to set up. However, doing the exercises that are outlined in the previous videos is very important for your everyday photography and event photography, where you don't have the time to enter in all these calculations. And you need to have an intuitive feel for how to use your camera to get the depth of field to achieve the look that you want. Nonetheless, knowing that a tool like this exists, it can be very helpful in some circumstances. And I recommend that you check this tool out to see how it works. 7. Conclusion: Thank you for joining me in this Skillshare course on understanding depth of field. I hope that you've learned a lot about what causes depth of field and what techniques you can use to alter the depth of field. As a final class assignment. I'd like to see an example of you're using depth of field to take a photograph. You may submit one of the practice follows from the previous videos back prefer if you went and took another one, because practice makes perfect and there's always more to learn about depth of field. Thanks for joining me. I look forward to seeing you in a future video.