All featured images were taken by and remain the property of Chris Brooks

Photographic Techniques by Chris Brooks

Depth of Field

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Depth of Field

This is an area of macro photography that is vitally important; however it all depends on whether your priority is to get the all of the subject matter totally in focus.

That is always my intention, with the background suitably out of focus to highlight the subject. This can be very challenging though and at times can be somewhat frustrating. The depth of field will always be shallow owing to the close up nature of the images and may be as little as a few millimetres in low light conditions to a maximum of a few centimetres in very bright weather.

Therefore maximising the depth of field is always a priority, for me anyway. It all comes down to personal choice as to whether you are able to accept that parts of the subject are out of focus. I know that some photographers will set out to achieve this effect and I can see that it does highlight individual features.

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I would in no way criticise this approach and as I have said before its a matter of personal choice. The exception to my rule is if you are doing ultra close ups of Odonata, for instance the head then only the immediate area of focusing will be sharp, the remaining areas will be blurred but this accentuates the detail of that area.

You can set the depth of field in two ways. Firstly by using an aperture priority setting or secondly by a shutter speed priority setting. Both have their merits and disadvantages depending on the prevailing weather and subsequent lighting conditions. I will deal with this choice in greater detail in the next narrative.

The depth of field will be at its greatest and widest in bright weather conditions where the natural lighting is at its best. The higher the "F" number the greater the depth of field will be. In lower light or dull conditions the depth of field will be very much reduced and obtaining sharp images of the whole subject will be next to impossible and some compromise will have to be made.

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