Sunday, February 08, 2015

Lessons in depth-of-field

I must have dozens of pictures of these dried grape vine tendrils and naked grape bunches in my archives. Most of them were not successful, but a few of them were. The problem I have is that I'm often taking these pictures during the winter (in summer the tendrils are hidden behind new growth and leaves) in the morning or late afternoon when the light is not bright. And I'm holding the camera, not using a tripod.

Most of the subject in this image is in sharp focus. I was lucky.

That means that I have to use a fast shutter and wider aperture to get an image without motion blur. And that results in a paper-thin depth-of-field (DOF). If I'm lucky, most of the image will be sharp. More often than not, half of the image is beyond the DOF and comes out blurred. Here's an example:

The parts of the dried grape bunch that are closer to me than to the stem are out of focus.

To get all of the bunch in the shot above sharp, I would need to use my tripod so I could close down the aperture to increase the DOF and take a longer exposure. Or, I could just take the picture when the sun is shining.


  1. In Winter it is often hard to get a nice picture of something like this when the sun is shining...
    everything comes out very hard....
    the shadows are too deep and you need a reflector to put some light there...
    which means Ken would need to walk with you...
    I think you ought to treat yourself to a monopod...
    Manfrotto do one that is designed to be a walking pole as well as a monopod.
    That means that you can stop down some more and increase your DoF...
    Love that first shot, btw.

  2. It's warmer here also. I think it was 60 yesterday and the lenten roses are blooming. The first photo shows how nature is a great teacher- the fence wire is twisted like the vine tendrils.

  3. No matter how you take the photo, we like it.
    Pouring rain here, thank goodness.

  4. That first picture is just spectacular. The colors, too. Wow.

  5. I would pay you for the first photo - stunning!

  6. tim, I do have a monopod. I should use it more often.

    evelyn, I'm glad you noticed that!

    chris, I'm glad you're getting some rain, finally!

    emm, thanks!

    ron, :)

    michael, I'll accept any offer with multiple zeros (to the left of the decimal point). ;)


Pour your heart out! I'm listening.