Depth of Field or dof is usually a by-product in a photograph. Most new food photographers do not plan for depth of field.
Depth of Field is rarely decided thoughtfully.
New food photographers, focus on the subject and press the button. Click, and its done.
Have you done this before? This is how I used to shoot. I would look at the subject and just be so fascinated that I would start clicking without any plan, and 10, 20, 50 photos later I would have a photo that would "feel" okay.
Depth of field plays a crucial role in telling a story - a story that you have thoughtfully written.
On Day 6, storytelling will become more clear, for now, realize that you should choose a depth of field that complements your story. Don't let depth of field become an afterthought.
Today you will learn how depth of field impacts storytelling. What story are you telling with your food photo?
Yesterday we talked about the first element that impacts composition – a good camera angle. Depth of field is the second element that helps you compose a photo that tells your story. How much depth should you have in your photo, or how "deep" should your focus be, depends on your story.
I am sure you’ve all read about how changing the f-stop can change the depth of field and how moving the lens to subject distance impacts depth of field. We will not talk about that in this lesson. (If you would like to learn about depth-of-field (dof) read about basics of depth of field or how to control shallow depth of field in food photography.)
More intriguing than the technical know-how of how to create (or reduce) depth in a photo is when and why to do make those technical decisions.
So how should you choose depth of field?
You need to define what you are trying to communicate.
Several years back, most food photos were like the one below - one subject in front would be in focus and same or similar subject would be at the back, out of focus.
While these photos were in trend those days, there is a certain story that you can tell with them too. Let's look at this photo -
Why are there two desserts? Is this about two people? Why is one blurred? Does the shallow depth here imply distance? Is this about dessert for two people where the white space (and no person behind the second dessert) says that second person didn't show up? Or is it just about two pieces of dessert and not deep story?
Now imagine if the photograph had greater depth (meaning large distance was in focus) and the second dessert was in focus too? What if the window behind the second dessert and in the background was visible? How would that change the story this photograph is telling?
Learn to make a conscious decision about depth of field. Don't let it become an element you never actually think about.
This one change will make you a more thoughtful food photographer.
Your task today is to select a subject that you chose on Day 2, and photograph it using different depth of field. If you don’t have the subject that you chose on Day 2, pick some other food subject and do this task.
Today’s Assignment Step by Step
Estimated time: 30-60 mins
Step 1 – Choose a subject that you want to photograph.
Step 2 – Set up the subject and whatever props/background you plan to use. Do not change this setting in the entire assignment.
Step 3 – For this subject, you have to take three different photograph. Photograph 1 – isolated photograph of the subject, but no props. Hint: Use as shallow dof as possible.
Step 4 – For photograph 2, your subject is situated/placed in the surrounding but is still the main focus. Use appropriate dof. Hint: Since subject is in the environment, use a little more depth than photograph 1, but not too much. See the photo above.
Step 5 – For photograph 3, the story is that the subject is one of the main items. How should your depth of field change? Hint: use dof so that everything in the frame is in focus.
Step 6 –Post these three photographs in lesson 4 album in course Facebook group. [Important: You will need to be a group member to see the album page. Please make sure you have requested access for the Course Facebook group, without this you won't be able to see any of the lesson albums].