Depth of field plays an important part in how a viewer depicts a photograph and as a photographer you can manipulate the depth of field and use it as a way of directing the attention of a viewer to a specific area of a photograph (by using a shallow depth of field) or allowing the viewer more room to meander throughout the image with a larger area of sharpness (when using a deep depth of field).
The depth of field is most commonly manipulated by altering the aperture in the camera settings, using varying focal lengths and focusing.
I had a look online at some of the photographers mentioned in project 2.
Mona Kuhn (born 1969) is most well known for her large scale images of the human form.
In her book, “Evidence” (2007) Mona Kuhn uses a combination of shallow depth of field and soft focus with posed portrait photos of nude models.
Her images are aesthetically beautiful to view with a soft light often used and the focus of your eye is drawn to the skin of the subjects, despite them not always being in focus. The images are not “busy” and your eye does not wander around the photograph too much.
The poses of the model are portrayed as dreamy, relaxed and nostalgic. There is no harshness in light and I do not get a feeling of uncomfortable emotion behind the picture. There is a contentment and happiness to her work in this series.
Fay Godwin (Born 1931) was a British photographer known for her black and white landscapes photographs Britain.
In her book “Land” (1985) she has shot her images of the British countryside in black and white, using a deep depth of field and compositionally drawing your eye into the landscape.
Her images appear desolate, sombre and quite cold. They give me a lonely, dream like sensation (however, more nightmarish and not in the same way as Mona Kuhn’s work) upon viewing them and the deep depth of field creates a feeling of expanse and spaciousness in the depicted landscape and I get a feeling of my own insignificance upon viewing them as if I am standing on the edge of a huge, open space feeling helpless.
Kim Kirkpatrick (Born 1952) is an American photographer who uses a shallow depth of field with his landscape photography. It is much more apparent in his earlier work and he uses this technique to draw the eye to focus on the seemingly overlooked beauty in everyday things within our environment. It creates a slightly abstract view but he focuses his images in a way that commands you to view the photograph in the way he wishes you to. You are forced to look at the subject in question since the area of focus is so concentrated and minimal.
When viewing his work, I feel there is definitely an element of finding beauty in the mundane, the colours are quite muted and understated which also forces the focus onto that which Kirkpatrick wants you to see.
My own archive
Looking back at my own archive, I found a good example of shallow depth of field which is very often used in contemporary food photography. Food photography in recent years has moved away from documentary style where photographs were taken, mostly as a reference to the recipe guide, giving the viewer an idea of how the dish should actually look. Today, food photography focuses on the props, vibrance and stylisation of a photograph.
These 2 pictures of a cake are a good example of contemporary food photography. Whilst the stylisation has been kept relatively simple, with only a few props used in the first photo and none in the second. The cake has been vibrantly decorated, with the topping scattered around the cake, contrasting with it’s dark background and the depth of field is shallow, allowing the focus to remain on the cake without the eye wandering around the photograph too much.
These were both shot indoors using natural light and a white reflector. Both photographs were shot on a Nikon D750 with an ISO of 640 and an aperture of 5.6 The focal length was set 70mm and 72mm respectively.