Depth of Field in Digital Photography: Photoshop Solution

by Jim Zuckerman

depth of field in digital photography
Carnival, Venice, Italy
© Jim Zuckerman
All Rights Reserved

Depth of Field in Digital Photography

I photographed this very unusual model on Burano Island, but because I was so close to her - the camera was about 15 inches from the mask - the background wasn't in focus. I could have used a tripod and f/32 for deep depth of field in digital photography, but with so many other people who wanted to photograph her from this bridge, I just didn't have that luxury to spread the legs of a tripod. Therefore, there was only one way to do it.

I took two pictures. I first focused on the model and took the picture, and then I re-focused on the background and took the second image of the colorful houses and the canal. I then used Photoshop to put the sharp background behind the model.

Working with Photoshop CS4

To do this, I used the pen tool in Photoshop CS4 (this tool is not available in Elements, and for those of you who use Elements, the lasso tool can be used instead of the pen tool to precisely cut out subjects). The pen tool is the most exacting method to select any subject. Many people are intimidated by this tool, but it's quite easy to use. It simply allows you to lay down a line of dots around the subject. I work at 300% and place the dots precisely where I want them.

When you complete the "circuit", click on the paths palette and then in the upper right corner of that palette use the small tab to pull down a submenu and find 'make selection'. In the dialog box that opens, I chose one pixel as the feather radius and clicked OK. The model was now selected, and at this point it was a simple matter to paste the background in.

Finally, I pasted in some stormy clouds to replace a boring and distracting white sky. The sky was perfect to provide soft and diffused lighting on the model, but it didn't look good as part of the background.

Note the eyes of the model. She was wearing pink contact lenses. It looked truly incredible, and I feel it adds mystery and intrigue to the picture.

Learn from Jim Zuckerman

Jim teaches a variety of online Photoshop classes, including Creative Techniques in Photoshop , Advanced Creative Techniques in Photoshop and his new Photoshop: Thinking Outside the Box.

In addition, the digital photography school offers many more online Photoshop courses.

About Author / Instructor / Photographer, Jim Zuckerman
Photography Instructor: Jim ZuckermanFew people are able to spend most of their time pursuing their passion in life. I'm one of them, and I feel blessed to have had a love affair with photography since I began taking pictures.

In 1970, I decided to abort my intended career as a doctor in favor of photography and have never regretted it. Photography has enriched my life more than I can tell you. My career has taken me to over 60 countries, and I've seen and photographed wondrous things.

I specialize in wildlife and nature, international travel, and digital effects. In addition, I also shoot nudes, photo- and electron microscopy, children, and other subjects that stimulate my visual or emotional sensibilities.

For 25 years, I shot a medium format camera, specifically the Mamiya RZ 67, for its superior quality. When I would lecture, Id project the large, glass mounted transparencies, and it was really an incredible experience to see the brilliant color saturation and resolution of these slides. However, I went digital in 2004 because the technology finally equaled or surpassed medium format. I now shoot the Canon 1Ds Mark II digital camera with a variety of lenses.

I am the author of 12 books on photography. My work is sold in 30 countries around the world, and my images have appeared on scores of magazine and book covers, calendars, posters, national ads, trade ads, brochures, and corporate promotions.

For many years I've led photography tours to exotic places. These include Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Burma, Greece, The Czech Republic and Slovakia, Spain, Morocco, and Peru.