If there’s one thing that can bring a whole new perspective to your photography in one simple technique, it’s depth of field. By focusing on one area or subject in the shot, a photographer can essentially control what the viewer sees in an image and how they see it. In other words, depth of field is like a superpower. Mixed with good photo composition, it can take your photography to a whole new level!
A great example of this technique is when there’s a defined focal point in a photo with all of the background details blurred into smooth, buttery colors. There are two ways to achieve depth of field in your images: you can create depth of field while you are shooting or you can edit your photos to mimic depth of field in the editing phase. The cool thing is, BeFunky’s Photo Editor has plenty of tools for you to get the look you’re going for. We’ll show you how to get perfect depth of field every time, whether you’re in the capturing or editing phase of photography. Let’s get started!
How To Add Depth Of Field With Your Camera
Before you even think about pressing the capture button, there are a few things you need to have in order for achieving depth of field. First, you need a defined focal point. This can be a person or object in your photo that you want to be in total focus. Once you’ve got that squared away, here are the camera settings you need to know, whether you’re shooting on a DSLR or a mobile phone:
Adding Depth Of Field With A DSLR
When shooting on a camera, achieving good depth of field starts with your f-stop. Setting your f-stop to a lower number will make your aperture wider and give you a shallower depth of field (areas not in focus are blurrier). Setting your f-stop to a higher number will do the opposite; more of your image will be in focus. Depending on how large your focal point subject is, you’ll need to set the f-stop accordingly. Try starting with a low f-stop (f/2.8 or f/4) before adjusting the ISO and shutter speed accordingly. If you find that you need more of your subject in focus, increase the f-stop until you like what you see, then re-adjust the ISO and shutter speed.
Another great way to gain perspective while shooting with depth of field in mind is to move around your subject. Try taking the photo from higher up, from the ground shooting up, and other angles that can add intrigue to your shot. There are so many ways to achieve depth of field, so don’t feel limited to simply standing in front of your subject and shooting.
Whether you’re shooting with a person or an object as your main focal point, it's easier to create depth of field when your subject is father away from the background that will become blurred. That means shooting with your subject directly in front of the background, such as a wall, will be harder to achieve depth of field. After all, it's all about depth. That means positioning your subject with some distance between them and the background.
Adding Depth Of Field With A Smartphone
As technology advances, so does the quality of our smartphone cameras. Depth of field is easy to achieve on all kinds of mobile devices by simply tapping the area on your screen you want to use as a focal point. This will keep the subject sharp and in focus and blur the background with a single tap.
Some advanced smartphones even offer Portrait Mode. It lets you adjust the depth of field while shooting to make the background as blurry or clear as you want, keeping your subject in sharp focus. Check to see what’s available on your mobile device to find out your options for controlling depth of field, but fear not if you don’t have option on your smartphone or access to DSLR, BeFunky’s Photo Editor offers a few ways to get the look in post-process.
2 Ways To Add Depth Of Field In The Photo Editing Process
Whether you’ve captured great depth of field in your latest photoshoot or you’ve got some photos that could use some added interest, BeFunky has all the tools you need to create depth of field. When you’ve got a photo in mind, upload it into BeFunky’s Photo Editor by selecting your file from the Open tab or dragging-and-dropping it right into the interface. Once you’ve got your photo uploaded, here are two tools that can help add depth of field:
The Funky Focus Tool
Funky Focus is a powerful tool that makes adding depth of field to your images a snap! To use it, select Funky Focus from the Edit menu on the left.
You’ll see a circular target appear over your photo, but you can also choose the shape of the target by clicking on the buttons in the Funky Focus menu.
I wanted to make sure this person’s eye is the only thing in focus in the photo, so the Linear selection was the best choice. Whatever shape your target is, you can adjust it by clicking and dragging the blue circles to make the in-focus area wider or shallower. It’s the closest thing to being able to control the f-stop on a DSLR, without actually having a DSLR!
Once your target is adjusted where you want it, you can use the sliding scales to adjust the Blur amount (more gives you a blurrier background, less is more subtle), and Opacity of the blurred portions. Keep in mind when adjusting the sliders that you want the effects to be subtle. You do not want harsh lines coming directly in contact with fully blurred edges - this will make your photo look overly processed and unnatural. Always add a little at a time until you feel the effect is really working to your benefit. When you get that smooth, buttery background you’re going for, click the blue checkmark to apply the effect.
And just like that, we've got a new focal point made possible by the Funky Focus tool!
The Blur Tool
Another amazing tool for adding depth of field is the Blur Tool. This tool gives you more control and versatility than the Funky Focus tool - it just depends on how meticulous you want to be and how much time you have! If you are wanting to manipulate specific part in your photo and you want more control, this is a better tool to use for you. To use it, click on Blur in the Edit menu on the left.
Once you're in the Blur tool menu, click on the Paint tab (next to Adjust). You will notice that when you select the Blur tool, the entire image automatically blurs. This is okay. When you select the Paint tab, you can paint over the areas of the image you want to remove the blur from. If you accidentally paint over an area you didn’t mean to, simply select the Erase button to add blur to that part of the image.
Command + Z is your best friend in this stage of the process. If you mess up, just undo the paint stroke by pressing this shortcut on your keyboard.
You can see in the image above that the edges look very unnatural. That is okay at this stage. It’s helpful to increase the blur while adding and erasing blur in order to clearly see your edges. After you get your edges how you want them, click over to the Adjust tab to decrease the Blur Amount.
See how easy that was? Using the Blur tool in paint mode gives you total control over the focal point of the image.
BeFunky’s powerful photo editing tools can help you get the look you want, whether you have the right photography equipment for capturing depth of field or not. Try experimenting with this technique during the shooting phase and also the editing phase. Now that you know all you need to know about depth of field, you’ll be unstoppable when it comes to creating intriguing photos!