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Learn Photography

Beecher's Handouts >

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#4 – Depth-of-field

Why Are You Doing this Assignment?

Depth-of-field is one of the major composition tools.

Point-and-shoot Camera Users

Do the Following

If you're using a point-and-shoot camera, do close-up photography.

Photograph something up close that we haven't seen before.

Digital SLR Camera Users

Do the Following

Photograph a still life using different lens openings.

Avoid Camera Shake

Set your camera on a table.


You won't get blur from camera shake.

You'll be using physically small lens openings.

There'll be little light coming through the lens opening.

So, the camera will select a long shutter speed in order to let more light reach the sensor.

Setting your camera on a table will allow you to use slow shutter speeds.


Set up the still life on the table.

Use three objects.

Space them about a six inches apart.

Object #1 is the closest to the camera—object #2 is further away—and object #3 is the furthest.

Figure Out How Your Lens

Does Close-ups

You would expect to be close when doing a close up.

However, most lenses do close ups when they're at telephoto focal lengths.

Test your lens to see where it does close ups, at wide-angle focal lengths, or more likely, at telephoto focal lengths.

Zoom your lens to a wide-angle focal length.

See how close you can get to your still life.

Then, zoom your lens to a telephoto focal length.

Again, see how close you can get to your still life.

Then, use the focal length that's best for close-up photography.

A or Av

Use the aperture priority exposure mode, A or Av.

You'll select the lens openings.

The camera will set the shutter speed.


Focus on the middle object in every photograph.

If your camera chooses where to focus, make sure it's focusing on the middle object.

If it isn't, replace the middle object with a taller object.

If the camera still chooses to focus on one of the other objects, switch to manual focus.

There's a switch on or near the lens labeled AF/M.

Switch it to M.

To focus, turn a ring on the lens barrel until the middle object is sharp.

Be sure to turn your lens back to A, autofocus.

Try Different Apertures

Photograph your still life using different lens openings.