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Stacey Huston advises how to figure depth of focus

As the late summer sun cast a beautiful orange glow over the high plains of Wyoming, I once again found myself amazed by the beautiful pronghorn antelope and their magnificent horns; to me they resemble overgrown beetles. The pronghorn antelope are a very unique animal, found only in the sagebrush flats and high plains of the North American West. Pronghorn antelope are the fastest animals in North America, second in the world only to the cheetah – a common sight here in Wyoming, and a wonder to watch race across the sage covered landscapes.

As perfect example of health and fitness, this fantastic buck stands frozen, awaiting my next move, while behind him, the less educated bucks ignore me and continue with their antics: unafraid and unaware that hunting season has once again returned to their land. 

Depth of Field (D.O.F) … A quick overview

Depth of field is the amount of the image that appears to be in acceptable focus (in this image, that would be the older antelope buck in “focus”).  There are many factors that affect the depth of field in a photograph.. A wider D.O.F leaves the majority or all of an image in focus and a smaller D.O.F will blur the background and foreground putting emphasis on the subject. The question now is how to achieve the desired depth of field when taking a photograph. I could take the time here to go into F #’s and aperture , and camera settings and lenses but I know that  90 percent of the readers don’t care, and 5 percent of those who do will completely forget before they ever get the chance use the information. So, instead, I will give you a few simple and quick tips to use when trying to control the D.O.F. in your photographs.

Take a look at the settings on your camera; it doesn’t matter if you are using a simple point and shoot or a more high tech SLR camera.  If you want to bring the entire photo into focus, put your camera on the mountain (scenery) setting. This will allow your camera to detect the settings that will bring the entire frame into focus. If possible, zoom back as far as you can from the image.

To blur the background, set the manual setting on the camera to the portrait (head) setting, if you have a zoom (telephoto lens) use it, focus on the subject that you want to stay “in focus” – the closer you can get to the subject, the smaller the depth of field will become, and the farther away from the background the subject is, the more the background will blur.  If you have the option(and a cooperative subject), manually focus the camera, and watch the different effects through the lens.

In the case of this photo, I was alone with the antelope and they weren’t too awfully concerned with my presence, allowing me the time to experiment with the different settings on my camera, which were F6.3~ at 500mm ~ 1/2000. ~Stacey Huston

Stacey Huston is an outdoorswoman to the core, and would much rather spend time in the high country than in the local shopping mall, and feels more at home in heavy timber than in a salon. She is an accomplished photographer. Stacey is also a licensed falconer and raptor rehabilitation volunteer, helping injured raptors to once again soar on open skies. She resides with her husband of 19 years and their two boys in the mountains of western Wyoming. To see her photography, go to http://www.staceyhuston.com/

  • About Stacey Huston

    Stacey Huston is an outdoorswoman to the core, and would much rather spend time in the high country than in the local shopping mall, and feels more at home in heavy timber than in a salon. She is an accomplished photographer. She resides in northwest Wyoming, the state she has called home for more than 22 years. Stacey hunts with longbow and rifle, and written articles for online outdoor companies and print magazines. You can find her photos in Traditional Bow Hunter, Turkey Country and Primitive Archer magazines. Her work graced the cover of Primitive Archer Magazine for more than a year, as well as 2 issues of Schnee's catalogue and an issue of Successful Hunter Magazine. Stacey is on the field staff for Prois Hunting and Field Apparel for Women.

     

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One Comment
  • Deb Ferns says: September 2, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    Thanks Stacey for an article that my husband enjoyed! He is definitely far more the photographer then me but whatever he learns about taking a good photo helps me in the long run.