A Slice of Focus: Lessons for Photographing Plants Using Shallow Depth of Field

Below, you will find a snippet of this recent article published on the Nature Photographers Network - click here to read the full post >>>


Photographing small subjects opens up a world of opportunity for nature photographers. By seeking out nature’s details, a photographer can explore a world of plants, patterns, textures, and abstract subjects that are often overlooked or seen in a less interesting way by the human eye. In this article, we will discuss one way of photographing small scenes: using shallow depth of field to render only a small part of your subject in focus. This article focuses on plants and leaves but you can use these lessons on any small subject you encounter in nature.

Use Shallow Depth of Field to Simplify and Create Abstractions

For many landscape photographers, embracing shallow depth of field and the out of focus elements that come with it can be a major shift in mentality. When photographing small subjects like plants or flowers, shallow depth of field can often transform a subject from the literal to the abstract. Generally, using greater depth of field renders a subject more literally with all of its details more obvious to the viewer. Shallow depth of field, on the other hand, often lends a more simple, dreamy, and abstract quality to a photo. Instead of photographing petals or stems or leaves, you are photographing lines and shapes. Additionally, the abstract renditions that can emerge make shallow depth of field an excellent simplifying technique when photographing a chaotic subject.

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