Depth of Field (DOF) Studies

Technical Level: Intermediate-Advanced

 Depth of Field

When someone makes the transition from a Point and Shoot camera with a small sensor to a DSLR with a larger sensor they are entering unfamiliar territory.  Point and Shoot cameras by there very nature have an abundance of Depth of Field (DOF) and most subjects in the frame are in focus. But now they may be finding that some portions of their image are out of focus and they don’t know why.  For some, this is where the discussion of Depth of Field starts.

DOF is a subject that many photographers do not fully understand. They might remember a few principles but lack a working knowledge of the subject.  As a result, some of their images do not reflect the vision they had when they captured the image.

Cell Phone vs DSLR

Cell Phones as cameras

We hear a lot these days about the great images taken with a cell phone. There seems to be at least two schools of thought in the discussion as to whether to use a cell phone or a DSLR to capture images.

One group likes the ease and convenience of a camera that is compact, light and always available on their cell phone. The other group isn’t bothered so much by the “inconvenience” of carrying a larger piece of equipment and wants greater capability, flexibility and creativity.

Photography and Cooking

Technical Level: Beginner      

Photography is a Technical Artform. The technical and artistic elements of photography are intertwined and we must become competent in both to intentionally create great images. Some students are apprehensive about the technical side of photography and have a “brain freeze” when the word Technical is used.


The technical elements of photography are no more difficult to grasp than are the “technical” aspects of preparing food. Cooking uses the term cup to measure how much flour to put into your pancake batter. Photography uses the term f stop to represent how much light is entering the camera. Recipes use time in minutes to tell you how long to bake your biscuits. Cameras use Shutter Speed (normally measured in seconds) to tell you how long the camera sensor is exposed to light.

“That was a LUCKY shot”

Technical Level: Beginner      

Have you ever had someone tell you “You must have a really good camera” or “That was a lucky shot.”

I don’t think the people who make these comments are intentionally rude but it appears they aren’t very knowledgeable as to what it takes to create a great image. How do we politely educate them? Do we say “Let’s both get the same camera and see who can take the better photo?” Or to take a different approach, the lucky shot theorist might say that Serena Williams has won so many tennis championships because she has a really fantastic tennis racket. Or a great chef must be able to cook so well because he or she has a really nice set of pots and pans.

Learning through Experimentation

Controlled Learning



One way to enhance and accelerate learning is to use experimentation as a learning tool.

Experimentation might be considered controlled learning because you intentionally create a learning environment which enhances the probability you will learn a particular principle or skill. This controlled learning environment allows you to choose a particular photographic setting or parameter such as white balance and study the effect that different white balance settings have on your images.

Have your photo skills declined?

Have your photo skills declined?

photo skills

 I’ve recently had some conversations with some photographers whose photo skills have declined and they have reverted back to using the Auto and Program modes on their cameras instead of the Creative Camera modes (A, S or M).

Some common reasons for the reversion are “I want to be ready for anything and don’t want to worry about the camera settings” or “I still don’t feel comfortable with the creative camera modes.” Whatever the reason, this situation can be rectified.

The impact of experience on your ability to visualize what an image might look like.

More experience helps you visualize what an image will look like after image capture and post processing.


There are times when you have an idea for an image, but you aren’t really sure how to actually create that image. Or if it’s even possible to create that image? Or what props, lighting, backgrounds, etc. do I need? What software is required and how do I use that software to create the image?

A Fresh Approach to Photographic Education

A Fresh Approach to Photographic Education

Books and Strap

In 2011 after teaching community based photo education classes for more than 10 years, I decided to take a fresh approach and look for ways to improve the photo education experience. The classes we have been teaching over the years were modestly priced and provided a lot of useful information, photo exercises, handouts etc. Those classes have given our students excellent value for the money and time they spent. Many of our students also expressed a desire for more classes including intermediate and advanced classes.