Depth of field is the amount of distance between the nearest and farthest objects that appear in acceptably sharp focus in a photograph. Today I wanted to show you beauty of shallow depth of field. Shallow depth of field results when only the main subject of interest is in sharp focus and throwing other elements out of focus. To illustrate it, I invited my good friend ‘Stumpy’ our resident garden lizard to my house and to pose on one of the exposed laterite wall of outer courtyard. This 2 year old male garden lizard lives in our garden dominating over the rest of the lizards. He lost his pointed tail in a fight with a local cat hence the name ‘stumpy’. Despite 4-5 cats prowling our garden, he is still alive shows his survival skills.
Why do we like shallow DOF? In normal life when we see our world we don’t see it like this (unless you have eye problems). So it is an unique experience to see a photo which has shallow DOF. Whenever we present our photos in a way that we don’t normally see everyday, then it becomes an fascinating experience. Depth of field (DOF) as the zone of sharpest focus in front of, behind, and around the subject. As a photographer you have to decide how the photo looks by choosing this DOF consciously.
For a given camera you can change the DOF by these three ways
- Changing the the Aperture,
- Changing the focal length of the lens in use, and
- Changing the shooting distance.
The larger the aperture, the shallower the depth of field.
For example, if the lens focal length and the shooting distance stay the same, the depth of field is much shallower at f/2.8 than at f/16.
The larger the lens focal length, the shallower the depth of field.
For example, comparing a 35mm lens with a 100mm lens at the same aperture and shooting distance, depth of field is shallower with the 100mm lens.
The closer the shooting distance, the shallower the depth of field.
For example, if the subject is photographed from 2 and then from 10 meters away, depth of field is shallower with the at 10 meters.
Another characteristic of depth of field is that it is generally deeper in the background than in the foreground.
I have left out one more variable that is the camera sensor as you need to change your camera to get your senor size changed. Larger your camera senor shallower your depth of field. Small point and shoots have tiny sensor and result in greater depth of field, cropped sensor camera (read my blog about them here) are midway and full frame senors like one on Canon EOS 5D Mark III has the shallowest DOF.
Depth of Field control is most useful in portraiture photography. you can emphasize a specific effect of the main suject of interest (in my case, lizard ;-)) by limiting DOF away from confusing and boring background via use of a larger aperture. I achieved the intended result via combination of a long telephoto (Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM + Canon EF 1.4x III Extender) with the effective focal length of 420mm. I shot at maximum aperture this combo was capable of – f/4.0. I also went pretty close to the lizard as much I can. So I combined all the 3 parameters needed to get shallow DOF. Using full frame sensor camera added shallowness further.
The Oriental Garden Lizard, Eastern Garden Lizard or Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolor) is an agamid lizard found widely distributed in Asia. It has also been introduced in many other parts of the world. It is an insectivore and the male gets a bright red throat in the breeding season leading to a common incorrect name of “Bloodsucker”.
The ground-color is generally a light brownish olive, but the lizard can change it to bright red, to black, and to a mixture of both. This change is sometimes confined to the head, at other times diffused over the whole body and tail. A common state in which it may be seen is, seated on a hedge or bush, with the tail and limbs black, head and neck yellow picked out with red, and the rest of the body red. Changeable colors are seen only on the male during the breeding-season, which falls in the months of May and June.
The native range of the species includes SE Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Western Malaysia, Maldives, Vietnam, Pulo Condore Island, South China, Indonesia, Mauritius. It has been introduced to Oman, Singapore, and United States. The lizards were introduced to Singapore from Malaysia and Thailand in the 1980s. In Singapore, they are a threat to the native Green-Crested Lizard. The Changeable Lizard is relatively common and found in a wide range of habitats. They appear to adapt well to humans and are thus not endangered.
During the breeding season, the male’s head and shoulders turns bright orange to crimson and his throat black. Males also turn red-headed after a successful battle with rivals. Thus their other gruesome name of “Bloodsucker Lizard” although they don’t actually suck anybody’s blood. Both males and females have a crest from the head to nearly the tail, hence their other common name “Crested Tree Lizard”.
Changeable Lizards are related to iguanas (which are found only in the New World). Unlike other lizards, they do not drop their tails (autotomy), and their tails can be very long, stiff and pointy. Like other reptiles, they shed their skins. Like chameleons, Changeable Lizards can move each of their eyes in different directions.
Changeable Lizards eat mainly insects and small vertebrates, including rodents and other lizards. Although they have teeth, these are designed for gripping prey and not tearing it up. So prey is swallowed whole, after it is stunned by shaking it about. Sometimes, young inexperienced Changeable Lizards may choke on prey which are too large. Occasionally changeable lizards also consume vegetable matter. They are commonly found among the undergrowth in open habitats including highly urban areas.
Males become highly territorial during breeding season. They discourage intruding males by brightening their red heads and doing “push-ups”. Each tries to attract a female by inflating his throat and drawing attention to his handsomely colored head. About 10—20 eggs are laid, buried in moist soil. The eggs are long, spindle-shaped and covered with a leathery skin. They hatch in about 6–7 weeks. They are able to breed at about 1 year old.