Image & text: Jason Noack
It's always wonderful encountering wildlife and even more special when that interaction involves eye contact. As a photographer I love those moments when the subjects' gaze meets the camera. However, this alone isn't enough for a powerful image. In order to bring more focus on those eyes I often use a narrow depth of field to bring unwanted elements in the photo out of focus. The depth of field is basically a measure of how much of what you see is 'in focus' and it's a function of distance to subject and aperture and is specific to each lens/body combination. Some of that 'in focus' area is in front of the focus point and some of it is behind the focus point. The depth of field decreases as the size of the aperture increases (F-number decreasing).
This photo is busy with trees, branches and leaves throughout. In order to reduce the attention on those other elements a narrow depth of field was used to soften their impact. Here I opened the aperture wide to F/4 to get a narrow depth of field. Had the aperture been smaller like F/11, for example, much more of the image would have been in focus and the face of the young deer would not have appeared so prominent.
It's important to not only look at your subject but also their surroundings. Often you can remove elements with changes to the composition but when you can't and when those elements aren't the same distance away from the camera as the subject then try reducing the depth of field by increasing the size of the aperture.
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