by Paula Vigus for the Art of Birding Community


First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who took part in the Depth of Field challenge for July. I find DOF challenging to understand, especially when it comes to landscape photography and that is largely the reason I chose this topic. As much as setting challenges each week, I wanted to challenge myself to learn more about this topic. I have chosen the following photographers and their work based on a variety of reasons.

Paul Le Roy and his series of ‘shell’ photos. Paul took the brief and showed clearly the way changing the Aperture can have a big effect on the DOF. It was helpful that he also showed the settings he used.

Gayle Beveridge-Marien also provided settings to show her examples of her Camelia photos. Thank you Gayle for also providing some beautiful examples throughout the challenge.

Barbara Newton was using a new lens so practicing on something as small as a stigma of a flower showed an arty side to how a shallow DOF can create some lovely creative works of art.

Kathy Keddle showed us some beautiful examples of Flora and fauna. Her use of a shallow DOF enabled her to get some lovely crisp subjects with gorgeous, blurred backgrounds. I particularly loved the moth on the dried grass.

Anne Hugget also used a shallow DOF for her Forget-me-not photo very successfully.

Considering the hyperfocal distance when creating landscapes was obviously a trickier challenge, and one I struggle with. Even though the Photopills DOF App is very useful I am still trying to figure it out.

Paul Le Roy tried a nightscape. He achieved a nice result of colour, reflection and focus. He didn’t need to use the Hyperfocus point as there was no actual foreground.

I also did like Gayle’s pelican shots with the middle ground of the image, the pelicans on the raft in lovely focus and the rest of the images were acceptably sharp.

Karren Almstrom-Dixon and her California Big Horn Sheep was a lovely example of keeping the whole subject sharp and the glimpses of colour and light were blurred in the background. I also found it quite comical that a piece of grass from the background looked like it was about to be munched by the sheep. It was right at the mouth.

Kathy Le Bron’s Painted Lady Butterfly was stunning. The DOF was perfectly managed.

Anne Hugget also came through with her gorgeous freestyle focus with her yellow flowers against the blurred white and deep green patterned background.

Sandy McCleary nailed her Camelia flower with the identifiable foliage in the background against the pale green of the blurred field in the background.

Judi Lapsley Miller, Art of Birding creator, concludes “Good on everyone who gave this technical challenge a go. Controlling aperture (the size of the hole that lets the light into your camera) is one of the most fundamental aspects of photography. When we start out, most of us let the camera choose, and that's just fine. But as you move forward on your photography journey, it's the first technical aspect most of us will trip over. It can take a number of goes to truly get a handle on what it does and have that information stick in our brains. But once understood and conquered, controlling the aperture will vastly improve your photography. If you're feeling stuck, maybe it's time to take the plunge? And if you have already got familiarity with DOF, refreshing your understanding is always beneficial, along with trying something new.

We’re currently exploring Astro photography and are about to start a new adventure using creative filters. It’s not too late to join us in the Art of Birding, Wildlife and Nature Art and Photography Community.

The voluntary challenges are suitable for all ages, abilities, and gear. All you need is a camera or a mobile phone and some enthusiasm.

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