Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wild Eyes, a study in DOF

Long telephotos are notorious for their shallow depth of field (DOF). When shooting close-up wildlife shots with long glass, seldom can the entire subject fit within the narrow range. It is imperative for the animals eye, if visible, to be tack sharp. With this in mind I regularly attempt to spot focus on the eye. If this isn’t the composition I desire I then recompose the shot while holding the shutter button down halfway.


In this instance a cooperative young whitetail buck inquisitively watched as I photographed him. Using the 400mm lens at F7.1 the DOF was too shallow to keep both the eyes and nose sharp when using his eyes as the focus point.




Remembering that one third of the DOF is ahead of the focus point and two thirds behind, I refocused the shot on the bridge of his nose, about half way between his eyes and nose. It’s only a small change but small alterations make the difference between a good shot and an outstanding image.


9 comments:

Elaine said...

Thanks for the helpful tip. I have only had my zoom lens a couple of years and can use all the help I can get! Your second shot is lovely, as are the shots in your last post. I have very much enjoyed your series of Whitetail shots.

Lara said...

this is very useful, especially that I want to buy a new lens for my camera! thanks!

Chris said...

Hi Coy,
These are very nice shots and, yes, it is like in birds you have to go for the eyes to focus.. You did it well there and these portraits are gorgeous!!

Sue said...

What great advise! Sometimes it's the smallest changes that yield the greatest results.

√ Abraham Lincoln said...

I never think about DOF but seem to know it at the same time and have to work back and forth to get it to come out right. I spend a lot of time, sometimes, leaning forward or backwards to get it just right. Do you ever lean back and forth?

Corker2 said...

A well written and informative Post, Coy. Thanks for your help. I will try and remember what you've told here. The "Rule of Thirds" was something that I knew about, but just never knew what it meant.

When I shoot my Pentax with my Tamron 80-300mm Lens, I have to keep in mind what you've said. At times, I even put on a Pentax 2X Doubler, since I really can't afford those real big Lens for wildlife.

Thanks for sharing what you know.
Les

Mel said...

Thanks for the tip!
Your pics are always a beauty and to be able to learn from you is great!!

Montanagirl said...

Very nice shots.

HANNIBAL said...

You explained DOF well, and the photos say it all!