Depth of Field Tips for Flower Photography
|7 min read
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By kayaksailor   |   Watch
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Published: October 6, 2015
Animals, Plants, & Nature Week


 Poppies in the blue by kayaksailor
Poppies in the Blue
Daily Deviation 7/8/2015

Hello! My name is Ruth, though I am commonly known as kayaksailor on DeviantArt. I have been a photographer for most of my life, adding up to more than a half century of taking photos! I think I've fainted. I made the official switch from film to digital in May 2007 (about the same time as I joined DA) after getting my first dSLR, a Nikon D100, at a yard sale. As I am rather fond of flower gardens and the accompanying insects, those are my primary subjects and will be my examples for this article. Personal taste will dictate your scenes! Today's article will discuss some Depth of Field tips for Close-up flower photography!

Light and shadow by kayaksailor

First of all... What is a Close-up Photograph?


We will begin with two simple definitions of what Close-Up photography is:

  1. A photograph taken at close range or with a long focal-length lens.
  2. An intimate or detailed view.

 Hanging on... by kayaksailor


So... What is the Difference Between

Close-up and Macro Photography?


Many people equate Macro photography with Close-up photos. There are certainly similarities--as the photographer, you may be near the subject and the image may show tiny details--but the biggest difference comes down to the the ratio between the subject's actual size and how it is represented on the image. 

A Macro photograph is one in which there is a 1:1 ratio or greater between the size of the subject on your camera's sensor and the size of the subject in real life. If the size of the subject on your camera's sensor is smaller than the size of the subject in real life, you have a Close-up photograph. For many people the two terms are used interchangeably but having an understanding of the differences is important for categorizing on DA!

To me, the intent is to get the feeling of being IN the image.

Poppy Nightplay by kayaksailor

When it comes to Close-up photography, there are no hard and fast rules to which lens you use or exactly how close you have to be. But be prepared to get your knees dirty, maybe even your elbows and stomach too!

into the flowers by kayaksailor Snake Mom by kayaksailor In the shot by kayaksailor

Tip: I tend to use my zoom lenses, 28mm-300mm & 150mm-600mm, primarily due to the way they foreshorten objects and make the subjects feel closer than in reality.

Above the crowd by kayaksailor

Tip: A tripod is helpful, but not always necessary. If you do use one make sure it allows you to get close to the ground, depending on your subject.
 

Ok, I'm ready to learn what Depth of Field is!


An understanding of depth of field (DoF)–-how much of your photograph is in focus–-is helpful. Depth of field is controlled by your camera's aperture and the aperture on your camera is represented by f-stop numbers. Remember: As you change your f-stop you'll also need to adjust your shutter speed and ISO to compensate. I tend to shoot in aperture priority mode.

Shallow DoF

A shallow depth of field can be achieved by shooting with a large aperture (a lower f-stop number). With these smaller f-stop values, your lens has a larger opening, allowing more light into the camera. This allows the camera to focus more fully on your subject and leave the surrounding elements blurry. This helps to single out your subject (creating a point of interest) while at the same time reducing the effect of distracting background clutter:

Quail chick stretch by kayaksailor belly flowers by kayaksailor twist on fall foliage by kayaksailor
Complimentary Colors by kayaksailor Autumn Glow by kayaksailor Hanging on by kayaksailor

Deep DoF

A deep depth of field can be achieved by shooting with a small aperture (a high f-stop number). With these larger f-stop values, your lens has a smaller opening which restricts the amount of light entering the camera and causes your camera to capture the foreground and background in focus. This technique is not used as often in Close-up photography but is seen more often when shooting scenery:

Down in my valley by kayaksailor 

Experiment with a variety of f-stop depths to find what you like. Most mid-range to professional dSLR cameras have an f-stop “preview” button.

Tip: By pushing the button you manually close the aperture leaves down in your lens and you can see what will be in focus.

When choosing an f-stop, it is important to think about your subject and what you want to emphasize. If it is an insect, it is important to have the eyes in focus – a general choice. So you'll need to be aware of the depth of your focal plane; how deep the area in focus needs to be to capture all the details you want. Flowers are more forgiving so you can get a narrow band for a bit more of an abstract look.

Waiting for the sun by kayaksailor

And that's where the experimentation comes in! My biggest tip for Close-up Photography: 

Don't be afraid to take the same image with varying f-stops.

You may have an image in mind when you set out to capture a scene Close-up, but by trying different f-stops you may discover a photograph that truly delights you. 

down in the view by kayaksailor




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Comments (33)
Locke12069's avatar
Locke12069|Hobbyist Photographer
very informative especially for a duffer like myself. I enjoy shooting with a shallow DoF, which is difficult with the clunker I use. It's a Sony DSC-H300 and allows very little actual manual F-stop control. Anyway I find your photography amazing.
Reply  ·  
kayaksailor's avatar
Thanks so much! Here's another tip :giggle:  Light in the darkness by kayaksailor  (this is my daughter - we've found our cell phone lights to be really helpful!!)
Reply  ·  
Locke12069's avatar
Locke12069|Hobbyist Photographer
ty for the tip. would you mind looking though my gallery and giving me a little feedback. I know your probably really busy but any crits would be greatly appreciated.
Reply  ·  
VisualStripes's avatar
VisualStripes|Hobbyist Photographer
Great tutorial!
Reply  ·  
kayaksailor's avatar
Thank you - easy to implement :D  

Another tip - your cell phone light!
Light in the darkness by kayaksailor
Reply  ·  
VisualStripes's avatar
VisualStripes|Hobbyist Photographer
Another great tip! Thanks! :-)
Reply  ·  
Jorgipie's avatar
Jorgipie|Hobbyist Photographer
Fantastic article and art!! I think you explained everything very well Clap 
Reply  ·  
kayaksailor's avatar
Thanks for looking! I have fun :giggle: 
Reply  ·  
DigiPainteR's avatar
Great article Ruth . . . ;-)
Reply  ·  
Lk-Photography's avatar
Lk-Photography|Hobbyist Photographer
Great tutorial and extremely well explained :nod:

Thanks a lot for sharing! :w00t:
Reply  ·  
EyeOfTheKat's avatar
EyeOfTheKat|Hobbyist Photographer
Great tutorial - thank you! :heart:
Reply  ·  
JocelyneR's avatar
Very interesting journal! I put it in my Tutorials category.

Thank you so much for sharing!  :hug:
Reply  ·  
Doc-Skitz's avatar
Doc-Skitz|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Excellent tutorial!

How about a word about the background and coloring in the first image?
Reply  ·  
kayaksailor's avatar
:thumb445035929: was processed with some slider play in Lightroom - don't really remember what I did other than some slight color temperature changes... and then mostly hue and luminance along with split tone play... sorry I can't tell you more exactly.
Reply  ·  
Doc-Skitz's avatar
Doc-Skitz|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It's a beautiful effect. Thanks.
Reply  ·  
Cmac13's avatar
Cmac13| General Artist
well said indeed :clap:
Reply  ·  
gigi50's avatar
gigi50|Hobbyist Photographer
Very well written :clap:
Reply  ·  
GregorKerle's avatar
GregorKerle|Professional General Artist
Well done :thumbsup::nod:
Reply  ·  
meihua's avatar
Great article, it was very informative! You are such a professional :D
Reply  ·  
serel's avatar
Very nice article.
Reply  ·  
StemmyBotanist's avatar
StemmyBotanist|Hobbyist General Artist
Great article! Love the photo at the end (and the fluffy quail, omg). :happycry:
Reply  ·  
InayatShah's avatar
InayatShah|Hobbyist Photographer
Excellent Article
Reply  ·  
bear48's avatar
bear48|Professional
nicely written 
Reply  ·  
anonymous's avatar
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