Depth of Field in Macro Photography

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The defining characteristic of macro photography is of course that subjects are shot at close distances. While this close camera-to-subject proximity can lead to visually arresting images captured from an intimate perspective, this sort of photography presents unique technical challenges as well.

In this article I’ll address one of the most significant of these challenges – controlling depth of field (DOF). The term depth of field refers to the area in front of and behind the point on which focus is set that can be rendered in sharp focus. As we’ll explore throughout this article, DOF control plays a very prominent role in macro photography.

The cute creature in the image below is a cicada nymph, by definition the larval or sub-adult stage of an insect with partial metamorphosis. For me, this image is a failure. Why? Almost all the interesting parts and features of the nymph are are out of focus – its abdomen, wing buds, legs, even the front of its head.

In this image of cicada nymph , satisfyingly little of the subject is rendered in sharp focus.

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