Skip to main content

Fundamentals of Photography

Lesson 46 of 107

Shutter Speeds & Depth of Field (DOF)


Fundamentals of Photography

Lesson 46 of 107

Shutter Speeds & Depth of Field (DOF)


Lesson Info

Shutter Speeds & Depth of Field (DOF)

Let's cover a little bit of territory just for a short period of time that we've already covered, just to review material. So when you're looking at your photos and you're evaluating them, you want them to be sharp. There's a lot of reasons why they might not be sharp. One of those might be out of focus problems that you or the camera did something wrong. But it's also choosing the right shutter speeds. And so let's just go back and remember real quickly some of those types of shutter speeds. For human action I recommend 500, but for really fast human action, you're gonna need to go up a little bit, or more, depending on the action. So 1,000th for some fast runners. Some dancers, they're moving good fast human action, that's your standard 500th of a second that I talked about. Some elephants walking quickly in the field, not quite running, but they're moving quickly, 250th is appropriate for that. For most human action, probably 60th, but if it's a little bit faster, a little bit more ...

chaotic, more a little bit higher up at 125th of a second. As I said, that casual human action, probably it's gonna need a 60th of a second. What if you choose casual human action at a 30th of a second? Well, look at those feet, we're getting just a little bit of blur in the feet, maybe it's perfectly fine to have a bit of blur, and I don't mind it at a 30th of a second. It's up to you as to exactly how much blur that you want in your photograph. I love panning, down at 15th of a second, that works really good, and then we can jump all the way to one second, if we want that blurriness in the water movement. And if we wanna take things to extremes, we can go down to 30 seconds with water movement, and have some very interesting choices here. I encourage you to keep track of your shutter speeds, look at the metadata of your photographs that you've taken, and start building in your own little reference points for the types of things that you shoot. Maybe you shoot concert photography. I don't do a lot of concert photography. I would start with a 60th of a second, unless is a high energy lead singer. Then I might need more than 500th of a second. It depends on what they are, what instrument they play, bass players, I'd say that you could use a slow shutter speed with them, alright? Drummers, you're gonna need a faster shutter speed with them. Figure out what shutter speeds works with the type of subjects that you typically work with. So more ground that we can kind of recover, just for the moment is depth of field. Something you'll get a picture and it doesn't have everything in focus the way you expected. And so, going back to our depth of field, 1.4 gives you shallow depth of field, 22 gives you lots of depth of field, and I encourage you to go out and run these tests on your different lenses. You're not gonna end up with great photos, probably, 'cause you're just playing around, but you're learning how your equipment works, you're learning the limitations and the standards that you're gonna get with various sets of gear that you have. I've done this test more times than I can tell you, and because I've done that, I don't need to pull my phone out of my pocket and pull up the depth of field app to tell me how much depth of field I need. You'll learn it through experience and you can just incorporate it as you work in the field very, very quickly. So, as I say, 1.4, very shallow depth of field, opening up our aperture, and we are gonna have to balance this with our light needs in the camera. Now, remember this depth of field is controlled by more than just changing your aperture. It'll be controlled by the lens that you use. A 50mm lens at f/8 is gonna give you shallower depth of field than a 28mm lens at f/8. The aperture is the same opening, but it's because is a different lens you're gonna get different things in focus. 28 at f/8, you're gonna get most to everything in focus. 50 at f/8, that near tail light on the car there on the right hand side, that's not gonna be tack sharp, probably in that situation. And you need to be stopped down a little bit more if you're using that longer focal length lens. The other factor on depth of field is how close you are to your subject. The closer you are to your subject, the less you are gonna get in focus. And so, the aperture you need will depend on how close you are to your subject. Now, the complication for a lot of people getting into photography is that there are three factors controlling how much is in focus in any particular photograph. Okay, we got it John, you've said it enough times. F/22 is a lot of depth of field. F/1.4 is less depth of field. Focal length, you are gonna get more depth of field with wide angle, les depth of field at telephoto, and then, shooting distance, how far away is the subject when it's close up, you get shallow, when it's far away, you get more. And it's pretty easy to figure out how much depth of field you're gonna get, if you have everything set over on one side of this graph here. If it's on the other side, you're shooting 1.4 with a long telephoto lens on a close up subject, well, of course it's gonna be shallow depth of field. Where it starts to get confusing is when you got this one over here, and that one over there, and this one here. So you've got one thing pointing one way and another thing pulling you the other way, you have to figure out what has the most impact on providing the depth of field.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

As a photographer, you will need to master the technical basics of the camera and form an understanding of the kind of equipment you need. The Fundamentals of Digital Photography will also teach something even more important (and crucial for success) - how to bring your creative vision to fruition.

Taught by seasoned photographer John Greengo, the Fundamentals of Digital Photography places emphasis on quality visuals and experiential learning. In this course, you’ll learn:

  • How to bring together the elements of manual mode to create an evocative image: shutter speed, aperture, and image composition.
  • How to choose the right gear, and develop efficient workflow.
  • How to recognize and take advantage of beautiful natural light.

John will teach you to step back from your images and think critically about your motivations, process, and ultimate goals for your photography project. You’ll learn to analyze your vision and identify areas for growth. John will also explore the difference between the world seen by the human eye and the world seen by the camera sensor. By forming an awareness of the gap between the two, you will be able to use your equipment to its greatest potential.


  1. Class Introduction
  2. Photographic Characteristics
  3. Camera Types
  4. Viewing System
  5. Lens System
  6. Shutter System
  7. Shutter Speed Basics
  8. Shutter Speed Effects
  9. Camera & Lens Stabilization
  10. Quiz: Shutter Speeds
  11. Camera Settings Overview
  12. Drive Mode & Buffer
  13. Camera Settings - Details
  14. Sensor Size: Basics
  15. Sensor Sizes: Compared
  16. The Sensor - Pixels
  17. Sensor Size - ISO
  18. Focal Length
  19. Angle of View
  20. Practicing Angle of View
  21. Quiz: Focal Length
  22. Fisheye Lens
  23. Tilt & Shift Lens
  24. Subject Zone
  25. Lens Speed
  26. Aperture
  27. Depth of Field (DOF)
  28. Quiz: Apertures
  29. Lens Quality
  30. Light Meter Basics
  31. Histogram
  32. Quiz: Histogram
  33. Dynamic Range
  34. Exposure Modes
  35. Sunny 16 Rule
  36. Exposure Bracketing
  37. Exposure Values
  38. Quiz: Exposure
  39. Focusing Basics
  40. Auto Focus (AF)
  41. Focus Points
  42. Focus Tracking
  43. Focusing Q&A
  44. Manual Focus
  45. Digital Focus Assistance
  46. Shutter Speeds & Depth of Field (DOF)
  47. Quiz: Depth of Field
  48. DOF Preview & Focusing Screens
  49. Lens Sharpness
  50. Camera Movement
  51. Advanced Techniques
  52. Quiz: Hyperfocal Distance
  53. Auto Focus Calibration
  54. Focus Stacking
  55. Quiz: Focus Problems
  56. Camera Accessories
  57. Lens Accessories
  58. Lens Adaptors & Cleaning
  59. Macro
  60. Flash & Lighting
  61. Tripods
  62. Cases
  63. Being a Photographer
  64. Natural Light: Direct Sunlight
  65. Natural Light: Indirect Sunlight
  66. Natural Light: Mixed
  67. Twilight: Sunrise & Sunset Light
  68. Cloud & Color Pop: Sunrise & Sunset Light
  69. Silhouette & Starburst: Sunrise & Sunset Light
  70. Golden Hour: Sunrise & Sunset Light
  71. Quiz: Lighting
  72. Light Management
  73. Flash Fundamentals
  74. Speedlights
  75. Built-In & Add-On Flash
  76. Off-Camera Flash
  77. Off-Camera Flash For Portraits
  78. Advanced Flash Techniques
  79. Editing Assessments & Goals
  80. Editing Set-Up
  81. Importing Images
  82. Organizing Your Images
  83. Culling Images
  84. Categories of Development
  85. Adjusting Exposure
  86. Remove Distractions
  87. Cropping Your Images
  88. Composition Basics
  89. Point of View
  90. Angle of View
  91. Subject Placement
  92. Framing Your Shot
  93. Foreground & Background & Scale
  94. Rule of Odds
  95. Bad Composition
  96. Multi-Shot Techniques
  97. Pixel Shift, Time Lapse, Selective Cloning & Noise Reduction
  98. Human Vision vs The Camera
  99. Visual Perception
  100. Quiz: Visual Balance
  101. Visual Drama
  102. Elements of Design
  103. Texture & Negative Space
  104. Black & White & Color
  105. The Photographic Process
  106. Working the Shot
  107. What Makes a Great Photograph?


a Creativelive Student

Love love all John Greengo classes! Wish to have had him decades ago with this info, but no internet then!! John is the greatest photography teacher I have seen out there, and I watch a lot of Creative Live classes and folks on YouTube too. John is so detailed and there are a ton of ah ha moments for me and I know lots of others. I think I own 4 John Greengo classes so far and want to add this one and Travel Photography!! I just drop everything to watch John on Creative Live. I wish sometime soon he would teach a Lightroom class and his knowledge on photography post editing.!!! That would probably take a LOT OF TIME but I know John would explain it soooooo good, like he does all his Photography classes!! Thank you Creative Live for having such a wonderful instructor with John Greengo!! Make more classes John, for just love them and soak it up! There is soooo much to learn and sometimes just so overwhelming. Is there anyway you might do a Motivation class!!?? Like do this button for this day, and try this technique for a week, or post this subject for this week, etc. Motivation and inspiration, and playing around with what you teach, needed so much and would be so fun.!! Just saying??? Awaiting gadgets class now, while waiting for lunch break to be over. All the filters and gadgets, oh my. Thank you thank you for all you teach John, You are truly a wonderful wonderful instructor and I would highly recommend folks listening and buying your classes.


I don't think that adjectives like beautiful, fantastic or excellent can describe the course and classes with John Greengo well enough. I've just bought my first camera and I am a total amateur but I fell in love with photography while watching the classes with John. It is fun, clear, understandable, entertaining, informative and and and. He is not only a fabulous photographer but a great teacher as well. Easy to follow, clear explanations and fantastic visuals. The only disadvantage I can list here that he is sooooo good that keeps me from going out to shoot as I am just glued to the screen. :-) Don't miss it and well worth the money invested! Thank you John!


Dear John, thanks for this outstanding classes. You are not only a great photographer and instructor, but your classes are pleasant, they are not boring, with a good sense of humor, they go straight to the point and have a good time listening to you. Please, keep teaching what you like most, and I will continue to look for your classes. And thanks for using a plain English, that it's important for people who has another language as native language. Thanks again, Juan