How to get a Small Depth of Field

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Depth of field, as defined by the National Geographic Photography Field Guide, is the zone of acceptably sharp focus in a photograph. This concept is often tricky to grasp at first, but after some practice with your camera, it will become more obvious.

A small, shallow or low depth of field means that this zone is extremely small, and measured in millimeters. Pictures with low depth of field are usually closer up, and have completely blurred backgrounds.

However, a small depth of field requires a large f-stop number. The larger the number, the smaller the aperture opening on the camera. So, if your f-stop is f/11, the aperture opening is small, and if it is f/1.4, the aperture is wide.

So, let’s say you want to take a picture of something close and you want the subject to be sharp, but you want the background to be so blurred that it is unrecognizable. In order to achieve this, set a high f-stop or aperture, such as f/11. Set your shutter speed to correspond with your f-stop by using your light meter.

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