Depth-of-Field for Portraits

“Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.” Peter Adams

One of the basic laws of imaging is that only one part of a three-dimensional object can be truly in focus at the image plane and that areas located in front and behind that focus plane appear more or less in focus. At the point of critical focus, there is a range of acceptable focus that’s one-third in front of that point and two-thirds behind it. And that, my friends, is what depth-of-field is all about.


The amount of depth-of-field is affected by the camera’s distance to the subject and increases as the lens aperture is stopped down (larger f numbers) and decreases as the lens aperture gets larger (smaller f numbers) and as the camera to subject distance decreases.

tia.dof.colorThe above color digital infrared image of my former muse, Tia Silverman. was made with a Canon EOS 50D that had been converted to infrared-only capture by LifePixel and an EF 85mm f/1.8 lens. Exposure was made in Aperture Priority mode to maximize depth-of-field at 1/200 sec at f/16 and ISO 400.

So what do all of those colors that Tia is wearing (and her hair) look like under available light using conventional capture methods? This image at left was made just a few minutes before the infrared shot using a Canon EOS 60D and EF 28-105mm lens with an exposure of 1/60 sec at f/5 and ISO 200.

If you know of any models, aspiring models or women who would like to become a muse, please have them Contact me for details.

Tia is featured on the back cover of my book Posing for Portrait & Glamour Photography. New copies are available as I wrote this, for $14.75 from Amazon—even cheaper than used.


Author: Joe Farace

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