Tag: out of focus

What is DOF? An introduction to one of the pillars of photography

Depth of field is a crucial concept in photography on a technique and artistic scale. Since photography is a two-dimensional art form, depth of field gives us the ability to feel as though we are stepping into an image. Your depth of field is also known as your focus range. The “field” is the subject you are photographing, and the depth is the distance between the nearest and furthest objects that are sharp and in focus.

You might often hear of a “shallow” or “deep” depth of field. A shallow depth of field has less in focus around your main subject, and a deep depth of field shows more in focus around your main subject. Aperture easily controls the depth of field. Aperture is made up in f-numbers (f/5.0, f/16, f/22) and is also known as f-stops. The higher the f-stop number, the deeper your depth of field will be and the smaller the f-stop number is, the more shallow your depth of field will be. Aperture also has an effect on your exposure. The numbers represent the lens opening diameter size, and that will also determine how much light passes into the camera. The range starts at a larger diameter size and works down. The smaller the f-stop, the larger the diameter of the lens opening, this also adds more light. The larger the f-stop, the smaller the diameter and the less light will pass through.

The easiest exercise to demonstrate aperture and how it affects your depth of field is to set your camera on a tripod and find a subject that shows a foreground, middle ground, and background. A tripod is not only important in this because you want to have a continuous shot but because your shutter speed is going to start slowing down to compensate for the light as your depth of field goes up. Set your camera to AV which is aperture priority. This will let you change the aperture how you please and lets the camera choose the shutter speed and ISO for your best lighting.


You can also change your depth of field based on your camera lens; this can get a little more tricky. The more you zoom, the more depth you will receive because it is also compressing your image and you will have more of a focus on your field rather than use a wide-angle lens. Using a wide-angle lens is great if you want a deeper depth of field and more in focus. The higher the focal length, the shallower your depth of field will be because it is compressing your image.

How to use depth of field in your photography

Shallow depth of field is very common in portrait photography, wildlife photography, sports photography, and detail shots. Portraits are best with a shallow depth of field because it blocks out any distractions which can also apply to wildlife photography. Another good reason to use a low aperture is that it will add more light in. This will give you the ability to use a faster shutter speed to catch candid moments and a great tool to have for fast sports photography.


A deeper depth of field is common when photographing a landscape and architecture. When shooting a landscape, you will want to have your foreground, middle ground, and background crisp and in focus. The higher your aperture is, the slower your shutter speed will be to get a correct exposure so always be prepared with a tripod while shooting landscapes in lower light to avoid any camera shake.


Depth of field can give you as much or as little texture that you are looking for in an image as well; this comes in handy while shooting macro photography. You can see in this example just how much the background texture changes from 2.5 to 5.0.


You can also use shallow depth of field when learning and working with bokeh, a popular style in fine art photography.

Depth of field is only one piece of the exposure triangle but, as you can see, it offers a lot of tools to make your photography stand out.

Bokeh Photography for Beginners

Holidays are a good chance to get great color and lights in your shots. Winter, in general, is a great time to go out and experiment with ways of shooting scenes that are not always at your disposal. With all of those lights and colors for the holidays, also comes the opportunity to create some awesome bokeh. Essentially, bokeh is the way the lens renders out of focus light. It is circles of light like in the above image or the creamy background in portraits if taken with the right settings. Aside from having a nice out of focus bokeh in portraits, there are tons of objects you can use to create some great bokeh by holding objects in front of your lens. Incorporating out of focus elements can enhance your images and give it a mood you otherwise would not have.

1 – Starting Point

So what do you need to know before taking photos, and how to achieve bokeh in your images? Well, the biggest things that go into creating bokeh are the lens choice and the aperture you shoot at. The shape of the bokeh, a lot of times, is determined by the aperture blade amount. Generally, the better the lens the more blades (around 9), while the lower end lenses have about 5. The higher amount of blades creates more of a circle which creates the bokeh, more creamy and soft, where the lower blade count will create something like a hexagon. I tend to prefer the more round bokeh, but that is not to say that the less circular ones are not good and should not be done. Everyone has a preference but it is good to know the difference of why the bokeh might look different from lens to lens.

2 – Prep

If we look at one of the images I started with, we can gain a lot of information by looking at the histogram below. I mentioned above that aperture also plays a role in creating bokeh. One of the things to keep in mind if you are trying to get nice bokeh, is shooting around f 2.0 or wider. Having the lens open wider allows for a smaller depth of focus, thus giving you the out of focus bokeh in your images. What you generally see in portraits is that the subject is in focus and the whole background is out of focus. In the images I shot, I used the foreground as a framing device and made that the out of focus part. So in my image, I made the foreground out of focus and used that as a nice way to introduce some interest in my image. Going, either way, works (either creating the foreground/background out of focus), just as long as there is enough difference in the field of focus to get one of the elements to go blurry. As an artist, that is up to you to decide on how you want to incorporate things being out of focus into your images.

Arnel Hasanovic Bokeh Tutorial

3 – Shooting Bokeh

So, once you have in your head what you want the subject to be and how you want to incorporate bokeh into your shot, you then experiment! When shooting out of focus especially with the object almost touching your lens, it is often unpredictable and fun to see what slight movements will do with the light. In my case I kept adjusting, moving from angle to angle, making minute changes, to get something that looks like the image below. One thing to remember is that the color of the object out of focus can play a big role in helping you get a nice clean image. Before getting this shot I was using some more green light that did not look good against the color of the building, so I moved over to the more red holiday lights and that made all of the difference.

Arnel Hasanovic Bokeh Tutorial

4 – Experiment! Experiment! Experiment!

Did I mention experiment?! Trying out new things and making slight changes with your camera will yield two great and unexpected results that you can learn from. Shooting at night is not something I do a lot of, so when I get a chance to do something I do not normally do, I play around, knowing that there is no consequence for failing. Below is a small sample of the different angles and changes I made along the way to getting the image above. If you notice, a lot of the images look the same in a row, but one move up or down changed it. When working with light bouncing around your lens and it is so close that it almost touched the lens, the smallest change can get you to a winning shot.

Arnel Hasanovic Bokeh Tutorial

5 – Conclusion

Shooting bokeh can be a lot of fun and there are a lot of different ways to incorporate it into an image. Sometimes used just for fun, and other times to hide distracting objects. Whatever the case may be, it’s fun to take a time to try new things and play around.  Below are some other images and uses of bokeh during the night.

Arnel Hasanovic Bokeh Tutorial