Depth of Field

For those of you who may not know, depth of field is how much of an image from front to back is in acceptable focus. Selective focus (also known as shallow depth of field) has been used in photography to guide the viewer to the important part of an image. This can make for very dramatic images. However, we usually don’t see with selective focus. Well, that’s not really correct. When an object is close and especially in low light, you do see in selective focus but, your brain is great at only letting you concentrate on the part of the field of view that is in focus. As soon as you start to view the out of focus are, your eyes change their point of focus and you adjust. So, what’s my point? I’m not really sure. Oh yeah, when we see, we really don’t see in selective focus but we do see with selective concentration. So, why is selective focus so often desirable in photography – especially food photography? Here are two images for your consideration. Which do you prefer? Which is more realistic? Which is more artistic? Which way would you prefer to see your food images? Your comments are welcome.

Pattypan Yellow Squash and Zucchini

Shallow Depth Of Field (aka Selective Focus)

Pattypan Yellow Squash and Zucchini

Deep depth of field.

About Jerry

I was a science teacher for 31 years. During that time I photographed wedding and Bar Mitzvahs for about 15 years but that was in the days before digital. Being a teacher, I had my summers free so I assisted food and commercial still life photographers in NYC for 3 summers and fell in love with it. Having a wife and a mortgage, it was not practical to give up a job in teaching and go into photography so I put off my dream of becoming a food photographer until I retired from teaching. Now I am living my dream - I am a food and product photographer servicing New York City, Philadelphia and all of New Jersey.
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3 Responses to Depth of Field

  1. Bob Lewis says:

    Hi Jerry,

    Selective focus certainly has it’s place and is (as you know) widely used in food photography. Personally I think that many photographers are taking it too far. I’ve seen countless images where I have to search for the part that’s sharp and I don’t like that. if the image looks blurry until I can find a sharp spot than the technique was not used successfully (just how I see it).

    Think of a nature image that’s 80% blurry but the ducks eyes are sharp. Most viewers would see the eyes immediately and the image works. On the other hand if the shot is a tray of assorted cupcakes and 1/2″ of one cupcake is sharp that may not be very successful because there will be interesting details that are blurry. If the cupcakes are all the same and the front row is sharp than I dont need to see all the others and the shallow DOF will work to make the image interesting.

    In the two images above I think I like them equally in terms of DOF and I definitely prefer the darker one.

    Thanks for another interesting topic and discussion!

    Bob Lewis

  2. Pingback: Best of the Week: Good ol’ Dayz! | iPhotoloGy

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