Hand Held Cameras, Part 7
More on Depth of Field


This article continues my thoughts about hand-holding cameras for increased shooting flexibility and creativity that have been the subjects of the three previous posts. Go to the first part of the hand-holding series.

In my last article I talked about how increasing ISO speed allows you to use smaller f-stops and thus get much better depth of field.

There are a couple of additional things you can do to assure that your picture is sharp from close foreground to distant background.

The flower picture that I used yesterday to illustrate bad depth of field is on the right. If you remember, I shot this picture at 1/250, f-8, with a zoom setting of 35mm.

San Luis Valley Wildflowers, ColoradoIf I had zoomed out to 18mm, which I could have done using this lens, rather than using the 35mm zoom that I did use, the depth of field would have been much better. Wider angle lenses always result in better depths of field.

The other thing I could have done to get better depth of field would have been to back up a bit from the foreground flowers. This would have helped a lot.

Unfortunately, if I had done either of these things, it would have been a different picture. I would have destroyed my nice composition where the foreground is good and close and the background recedes into unimportance.

So, since I really did want this particular composition, using a higher ISO and thus a smaller f-stop was probably the correct solution after all. I would have kept the nice composition, gotten a lot of depth of field, retained my fast exposure speed and gotten a very sharp picture front to back.

Speaking of composition, it could have been much better. I really should have used an even tighter crop and cut off some of the dry grass at the bottom of the picture which is unnecessary and distracting. Put your finger over the grass at the bottom and you'll see how much better the picture gets. I should have also moved my camera position to the left just a bit which would have moved the yellow flowers to the right; as it is the flowers are too centered.

However, cropping tighter would have necessitated a less wide-angle zoom, maybe 50mm and my depth of field problem would have gotten even worse.

See what I mean about about everything in photography being a trade off. There just is no free lunch in this game.

This little scenario also demonstrates how many things a photographer has to think about, all at the same time to get a good picture. It isn't easy, especially if you are as easily distracted as I am.


Go to the eigth part of the hand held camera series