A couple of years ago as I was just starting out in macro photography I experimented a little bit with depth of field using a beautiful male Citrine Forktail damselfly. Since then I’ve switched to a new macro lens and taken a lot more photos, but not much has changed.
I still love how depth of field can be used to capture different elements of a scene; how it can make for a tack-sharp picture where everything’s in focus or highlight just the item of interest and leave the rest blurry (know-it-alls call this this bokeh). Me, I’d like a little less bokeh in my pictures, since I’m usually shooting macro. I dream of a macro lens that might have more than a few millimeters of depth of field.
Nonetheless, playing around with it is fun.
One weekend morning I was able to sneak up on a couple of different butterflies nectaring on different flowers of the same small plant, Spanish Needles (Bidens alba or B. pilosa depending on which botanist you subscribe to, although the latest edition of Wunderlin and Hansen specify that B. alba is our common weed and B. pilosa is rare).
Those of you who aren’t on a mobile device should be able to hover your cursor over the image to watch how the narrow depth of field makes the effect of focal point very clear: these two butterflies are only a few inches apart, but they might as well be miles:
Those of you who can’t hover your cursor will have to click the link in the caption to see the second image, which has the advantage of bringing it up at a larger size, as well.
To prove that no butterflies were harmed in the making of this photo experiment, here’s a shot of the sulphur departing the scene afterward:
If I’d had a wider depth of field, perhaps the darn thing would even have been in focus!
And, just for fun, here’s the butterfly staring me down with righteous indignation for this gross violation of his privacy: