So many of you have posted about this in the facebook community – how to get sharp group photos!
More specifically, how to ensure you have enough depth of field so that everyone in the group is in focus.
Not just that – but where in the group should you focus?!
This is a common struggle – but one you will no longer have after watching today’s video…
Let me know if you have any questions! 🙂
Rebecca is the latest in a long line of our community members who’ve posted in the Facebook group with a question around depth of field, and specifically, how to ensure you have enough depth of field for sharp group shots and how to know where to focus!
Rebecca you are not alone with this struggle BUT you won’t have it again after today!
Depth of field matters. It really matters!
Put simply, your depth of field is the distance of sharp focus in your scene from front to back – not side to side.
An image like this is said to have a shallow depth of field – only really the family are in sharp focus with both the foreground and the background being softer.
So when it comes to group shots you can imagine that understanding depth of field is pretty important! The last thing you want is a group shot where only one row of people are sharp and the rest are soft and blurry.
A common misunderstanding is that simply changing the size of your aperture will sort this all out for you.
And yes, the wider your aperture is – the less depth of field you are going to have. And the narrower your aperture – the more depth of field you are going to have.
If this is all a still a bit new to you then you NEED to check out my courses.
But there is a lot more to depth of field than aperture! I wish I could tell you it was as simple as choosing a narrower aperture and – voila – you have a sharp group shot. But it isn’t.
The focal length you are shooting with plays a HUGE part as does how far away you are from your subjects.
There are all sorts of calculations you need to do to find out just how much depth of field you have to work with.
Great fun – all those numbers…
But seriously, who wants to bother with all that??!!
I have never been a numbers person and nor do I have the time or the patience to work all that stuff out in my head or on paper – especially if I have a group of people waiting for me to take their photograph!!
So I just use this – it’s the depth of field calculator app.
All you need to do is simply type in the approximate distance you are away from your subjects then the aperture you are using and lastly, the focal length you are working with.
This clever little app will then tell you how much depth of field you have to work with.
So let’s look at this image again. I am using my trusty 85mm 1.4 Nikon lens with this gorgeous family. For this particular shot I wanted a nice blurry background so I selected a wide aperture of f/2.
f/2 for a group shot – I hear you say!
Yep! Because when I type in the distance I am away from the family, which is around 7 metres, my amazing little calculator tells me I have over half a metre of depth of field to play with. Not only that – it also tells me that about half of that will be in front of the point I choose to focus on and half will be behind (which by the way is not always the case)
How cool is that?
So I now know that as long as I can group my family nice and close together within that half a metre of distance – which as you can see I have – then I should manage to get them all nice and sharp in my image.
Assuming I have good shooting technique and a fast enough shutter speed of course!
But let’s say you put in all of your numbers and you find that the depth of field the calculator gives you just isn’t enough for you to work with. Well then you simply either narrow down your aperture a bit OR you move further away OR you use a shorter focal length.
I tend to narrow down my aperture just a tad in these situations but doing any of those three things will increase your depth of field.
But where do you focus in a group shot? Good question!
As I said your app will also tell you how far in front and how far behind your focus point your depth of field will reach. That should give you a pretty clear idea of where to focus.
So, in this example my results showed that around half the depth of field was going to be in front of my focus point and half was going to be behind. So I chose to focus right in the centre of my group and that was mum. Because dad is slightly behind her and the eldest daughter is slightly in front of her so it made sense to choose mum.
Where exactly on mum? The general head area – don’t get too caught up on that at these distances.
Lots of people think they still have to focus on eyes in shots like this. You can of course, but really, it won’t make much difference. The closer you are to your group, then yeah, maybe you want to be more careful about that but really as long as you have your subjects within your depth of field area you should be fine.
You may well find that focus is a little softer towards the edges of that area… but that’s a problem for the perfectionists to worry about.
Me, I don’t give it a second thought!
I hope that helps guys – let me know if you have any questions at all about this in the comments section. You will also find a link to that depth of field calculator app I use.
And don’t forget to check out my courses if you would like to take your photography to a new level. There is a link right here and down there in the comments too.