Path: The Design Center _/_ FOTOgraphic _/_Desktop Photography _/_ Focus & Depth of Field _/_Exposure

Dennis Curtin's Tabletop Photography

Focusing and Depth of Field

If you look at some close-up photographs, you will notice that very few of them appear to be completely sharp from foreground to background; in other words, the depth of field in a close-up tends to be shallow. The depth of field in an image depends on how small an aperture you use and how close you are to a subject. When you get the camera really close, donít expect much depth of fieldĖmaybe as little as a half-inch. Itís best to arrange the objects so they all fall on the same plane. That way, if oneís in focus, they all will be. Another thing to try with a zoom lens, is to use a wider angle of view. This will give you more depth of field if you donít also have to move the camera closer to the subject (doing so will offset the advantage of the wide-angle lens). If you are photographing flat objects such as prints, posters, or stamps, be sure the camera back is parallel to the subject.

Also, when you focus, keep in mind that depth of field includes the plane you focus on plus an area in front of and behind that plane. Youíll find that about one-third of the sharpest area will fall in front of the plane on which you focus and two-thirds behind it.

Shallow depth of field has its own benefits, so you donít necessarily have to think of it as a problem. An out-of-focus background can help isolate a small subject, making it stand out sharply.

Parallax, The Curse Of Point-And-Shoot Cameras

Point and shoot cameras often have an optical viewfinder through which you compose your shots. However, the axis of this viewfinder, unlike an SLR, is offset from the axis of the lens. This means that the closer you get to a subject, the more likely it is that you are seeing a view that is different from, and offset slightly from the one seen by the image sensor. You can adjust for this by slightly shifting the camera in the direction of the viewfinder. For example, if the distance between the lens and the viewfinder is 2", compose the picture, then shift the camera 2" to the side. If the viewfinder is to the right of the lens (from your position behind the camera), shift the camera 2" to the right.

Choosing A Lens Focusing And Depth Of Field
Setting Exposures Parallax, The Curse Of Point-And-Shoot Cameras
Backgrounds Using A Reflector To Lighten Shadows
Lighting Using A Light Tent
Using Flash _ ... or please continue &Photographic arrow points to the next page

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