Limit Depth of Field to Emphasize Your Subject

by Linda Eodice

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle
© Linda Eodice
All Rights Reserved
Although using great depth of field is an excellent way to get overall sharpness when photographing landscapes, doing the opposite – limiting your depth of field – allows you to isolate a subject from its background. Using a shallow (or narrow) depth of field is a great technique to use when shooting a portrait or any subject that you want to extract from its surroundings.

You can achieve this effect by using a wide aperture, such as f/2.8, f/3.5, f/4.5, or f/5.6, and a somewhat long lens - at least 50mm with most digital cameras. (If you’re using a camera with a full-frame sensor, however, you’ll probably want to use a lens with a focal length of at least 70mm – 80mm.) Because depth of field is so shallow, sharp focus on your main subject is very important.

I photographed this noble-looking Bald Eagle at Moonridge Animal Park in Big Bear, California. The eagle was inside a wire enclosure, so I used a long (250mm) zoom setting and a wide aperture of f/5.6 in the Av mode to isolate my subject from the background. I also put my lens right up to the wire enclosure to eliminate it from my images. The lighting was soft and indirect that day, and I waited for the regal bird to strike a photogenic “pose” before clicking the shutter.

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About Author / Instructor / Photographer, Linda Eodice
Photography Instructor: Linda EodiceThe author of Photos That Inspire, Lynne Eodice teaches a number of excellent online classes for BetterPhoto.com (see the current course listing below.) She is also the former Feature Editor for Petersen’s PHOTOgraphic.

A native of Southern California, Lynne was educated at Pasadena City College and Cal Poly Pomona. Her love of photography began after her husband gave her a 35mm SLR as an anniversary gift. She began her career as a feature writer & photographer for local newspapers that included Pasadena Weekly and The Herald Tribune.

Besides having articles and photos published regularly in PHOTOgraphic, she has contributed to Rangefinder, Digital Photographer and California Tour & Travel, as well as PHOTOgraphic’s Buyer’s Guide, Big Book of Photography and Family Photo magazines. Her images have appeared in a popular instructional book called The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Photography, and she has marketed her stock photos through Index Stock Imagery in New York.

Lynne has exhibited her fine-art scenic photography at Kolb Studio and the visitor’s center at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, at Occidental College in Eagle Rock, California, and at venues throughout the San Gabriel Valley. In addition, she has taught many classes, seminars and workshops.

In the fall of 2007, she was honored as one of the Women Achievers in the San Gabriel Valley in Business Life magazine.

Lynne currently lives with her husband, Dennis and their dog, Chiquita in Altadena, California.