Depth of field (DOF) describes the distance that’s in focus in the foreground and background of a photo. Using a shallower DOF in your photos allows you to direct your viewer’s attention where you want it, while a deeper DOF captures more detail in every part of the scene. Mastering it will help you create more artful images. Here’s how.

1) Adjust the size of your aperture. The f-stop plays a huge part in depth of field. When the aperture is wide open (smaller f-stop numbers), it causes the main focal point to be in focus while the rest of the photo is somewhat blurred. This blur is often called “bokeh.” Smaller apertures produce more depth of field.

2) Change your distance from the focal point. As you move closer to your main point of focus, the image’s depth of field decreases; moving further away increases the depth of field.

3) Choose the right focal length for your lens. At the same distance to your subject, the shorter the focal length (the wider the angle of view) of your lens, the greater your depth of field. With a longer telephoto lens, depth of field decreases.
—Kathleen Davis
Assistant Editor_