Wide means deep

“Wide angle means deep depth of field”. Meaning, a wide angle lens makes everything sharp, from close to far.

That’s true, but as this image of my friend and colleague Joseph Marranca shows,  it is not quite all there is to be said:

Even with a 16mm lens you can create selective depth of field, by:

  1. Using the lens open (this was at f/4)
  2. Getting close to the subject that is closest.

You see, it is the ratio between close and far that counts. If the far subject is twice as far as the closest subject, then both will be sharp. But if the far subject is, say, twenty times as far as the closest subject, then it’s a different story: you can get the far subject blurred.

And getting it 20 times farther can be done in two ways: move it farther, or move the closest subject closer.  Or get closer to it. And that is why, and how, this works.

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