Depth of field; Cinema and Photography

Depth, well, it is one of the words that is analogous to many other things. While all the other secondary meanings of the word are related, the primary meaning would be ‘the distance between the top and bottom surfaces’. Even when it comes to a movie, the depth becomes a lot of things too. For suppose, the depth of a film can indicate the story going to deeper levels or the subject of the movie being deep. But we are particularly talking about the depth of field!

But technically, or to say, visually, depth or precisely depth of field is something that deals with focus. Depth of field is the field of vision that is in focus in a particular shot. Different camera lenses allow a certain depth of field. The aperture of a camera lens decides the amount of light that the sensor captures. Hard to understand, right? Let us break it down!

How does a camera function?

A camera is something that captures light through sensors. When you click the capture button, the light reflecting from the subject falls on the sensor. The shutter closes, and the captured light develops an image. Cameras are something that can control time with light. You can capture a moment of running time, and you can freeze that particular moment and hang it in your homes.


Aperture is the hole of the lens. The light that passes from the subject is passed through the aperture of lenses before hitting the sensor. You can adjust the size of the aperture, and it affects the photo differently. When the aperture (opening) of the camera is wide open, it lets in all the light coming from outside. When more light falls on the sensor, only the subject appears clearly, and the rest of the background becomes blurred.

Because of the vast light that is going in through large aperture, this blurring of the background happens. And the blur occurs because the background is not in the depth of field. Depth of field is the area of focus in an image or a video. By making the aperture wide open and letting in more light, you decrease the area of focus, and only the subject of the image appears clearly.

depth of field and aperture

Similarly, if you decrease the size of the aperture, the light hitting the sensor is reduced. By each point of decrease in the aperture, the area of focus begins to increase. And if you tighten the aperture to the largest and closest, you can observe that now even the background is clear and not blurry. This blurring and focusing of subject and background happen because of the light going in and hitting the sensor.

F – stop

Something much more critical and confusing here is that the values of changing the aperture are referred to as ‘f-stops’. If you change the f-stops, the aperture either increases or decreases as per your requirement. The f-stops are fractions and are measured as f/1.8, f/2.8 and may have greater f-stops till f/22 or even higher. The common mistake one can commit while talking or understanding f-stops are about how they impact aperture.

It is clear to use that if aperture (hole) is wider then it lets more light in and the depth of field (area of focus) decreases. And if the aperture is close and tight having a smallest possible opening, it only lets little light and the depth of field increases. The f-stops with smaller numbers indicate wider aperture and the ones with bigger numbers indicate tighter aperture.

f stops and depth of field

It is that, greater the number of f-stop, lesser the opening of the aperture. And lesser the number of f-stop, greater the opening of the aperture. So, if you want to take a picture focusing only the subject and blurring out the background, you should choose lesser f-stop number on camera as it means that you are widening your aperture and letting more light. Thus, decreasing the area of focus, i.e., depth of field!

depth of field cheat

Wrapping up!

We have discussed how the depth of field is created, shifted and used to take pictures or videos. In the following week, let’s get into the practical use and ways of depicting the depth of field. We shall also see different types of uses of the depth of field to tell stories visually.

The Frankenstein chronicles – Parted and stitched

I am someone who binge-watches quite less. Neither I am a fan of TV nor any movie. It’s on a rare occasion that I feel the urge to watch something. When I am angry or sad or confused or anxious, I feel the need to watch something just to escape the tragedy of time and of course so that I don’t have to talk to anyone. This week I felt stressed and scrolled through my Netflix. I am a big fan of drama, psychic thrillers, and rom-coms. So, Netflix apparently showed me in the suggestions this series called, “The Frankenstein Chronicles.” For someone who watches things rarely, we don’t like to surf for many other series. I went for it and I must say, I don’t regret it. So, I thought I should write about it.

Here is the brief about “The Frankenstein chronicles”-

Frankenstein Chronicles is a series that leads by a strong detective character named John Marlott played by the actor Sean Bean. Benjamin Ross and Barry Langford created it based on Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel. John Marlott finds a weird thing at a swamp which looks like a human but is not. The body looks like being stitched and attached. Later, he finds out through a doctor named William Chester, played by Samuel West that the body is actually made of seven different bodies.

For which, John Marlott suspects that the people who were used to make that body were murdered. To find out who possibly can be committing this crime and why he starts to investigate. Through his investigations, he finds out many shocking things that happen about surgeons of England. But sadly, John Marlott’s story ends in an unexpected way. In a nutshell, this story is a must-watch if you are a crime lover. Uhhh, Light-hearted? Please watch in company!

My opinion-

I am a horror fan. So, I expect a lot of horror from the movie, which is a little disappointing. But that being said, the series kept me hooked because of its twists and turns. I loved how everything was placed properly, and nothing was exaggerated. The dull tone used in the movie helped us experience the old times of England. A few shots showing the slum side show us the dark side of big crimes that occur under our nose. The story is a complete package of amazing actors, on-point content and chill in the bones of the watchers.

Wanna read more about movies, and series? Find them here!


In the previous article, Indie Filmmaking, we shared our thoughts on how Indie films are considered cheapo films where in reality they are a part of fine arts. Here are few Indie films, we suggest budding filmmakers to watch and learn. Except for the Mean Streets (1973), all the other films mentioned here in the list are from mid 90’s to early 2000’s, it was an era of independent films. Many masters we look up at, like Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino were young aspirants filled with hopes and dreams in a full indie-mode back then.

  1. Mean Streets (1973) : This Scorsese film, takes you into the roots of New York and makes you experience the Italian mobs and crimes of that period.
  2. Reservoir Dogs (1992) : Quentin Tarantino’s use of dialogue to build tension was something very new then. It was a period when dialogues didn’t play much role in films other than enhancing the character. But this flick was a tight kick in the gut of the mainstream cinema.
  3. Pi (1998) : Even Darren Aronofsky’s debut ‘Pi’ was as good as his latest piece, Mother! (2017). His style of editing makes this film outstanding and original. Similar to his other work, this film concentrates on the psyche of the lead role. Pace of the film shifts with changes in the character’s sanity.
  4. Donnie Darko (2001) : One can never forget this disturbing and bone-chilling psychological thriller by Richard Kelly. This film haunts the viewer forever and the credit goes to Jake Gyllenhaal, whose performance creeps you for hours after you’ve finished watching it. This film challenges your mental abilities, teases your brain and makes you look like a fool!
  5. Pulp Fiction (1994) : Any list made on indie films, is incomplete without Pulp Fiction! This Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece is a tight slap to all the screenplay formats and norms which were present at that period. Pulp Fiction makes the viewer feel like they’re reading a book as it has different chapters and it’s up to the viewer to link all the non-linear stories they’ve been viewing.
  6.  Run Lola Run (1998) : Don’t really know if Nazi German experimentations ever worked, but this Gemran experiment was something no one imagined or made till then. Tom Tyker shows different possibilities of a single situation. The film uses lots of methods to have a stylized visual narrative. It uses animation, weird camera angles and movements to convey the story which was unthinkable then.
  7. Memento (2000) : Christopher Nolan, the name is enough to make film enthusiasts run to the cinemas. But back then, he was an indie filmmaker who made this masterpiece with minimal budget. Screenplay of Memento can be considered as a textbook for screenwriting aspirants. This film set a new heights of having non-linear screenplay. This film runs reverse in time, it begins from the climax and ends in the beginning.
  8. The Usual Suspects (1995) : This flick by Bryan Singer is considered as one of the biggest plot twists ever in the history of world cinema! This feels  like a normal crime drama which unveils the plot by each step but at the end it makes the viewer put up a facepalm and feel like an idiot for the maker has made him one.
  9. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004) : This is where Charlie Kaufman began his surreal explorations and it’s his finest movie of all. This indie film is a psychological and philosophical experience which leaves the viewer in awe.
  10.  Requiem For A Dream (2000) : Darren Aronofsky again! This particular film is undoubtedly his finest. Because he manoeuvres the film’s pace slow to fast and fast to slow suiting the story and characters. It starts as a slow paced drama film and by the end it’s a fast paced thriller which has already made your jaws drop, shoulders shrug and head cringe. This thought provoking film haunts the viewer for days, makes them think and love it even more.

All these great films prove that you don’t really need a studio backing you up, or millions of dollars to make a piece of art! All you need is the right vision and a proper plan to raise funds and narrate your stories visually. We might have missed many great movies which deserved a mention, we’d love it if you decided to drop few great flicks in the comment section or discuss them with us in the mail.