Uncompressed Midtones but shallow Depth-of-Field

Steilhofweg, Bayerisch Gmain (OSM)

Black and white rendering as well as depth of field are recurrent topics on The Online Photographer, usually with a dismissal of compressed tones and too shallow DoF.
I see both as a deliberate decision on the side of the photographer: There are situations, where one or both seem to be the appropriate tool to render the subject in the intended way.
Admittedly I am often leaning to reasonably shallow depth of field as well as to the usage of a slightly longer focal length. It can be said, that the human eye doesn’t see like this (but then, in normal light it doesn’t see in black and white either), but while I try to depict reality, I want to emphasize certain aspects of the scenery in front of me, and I do this by framing and focusing with the camera and later influencing the tonal scale during processing. For some images, like this one, soft and broadly distributed midtones are the way to go, for others the contrary will be more appropriate. The same holds true for the angle of view and depth of field.
Only because nowadays the look of cameraphone images with front-to-back sharpness is pervasive, it is not better nor the norm, only abundant. If one wants to please the masses, it certainly is the way to go¹, but other than that every photographer should enjoy the freedom of tools. Interesting in photography are not the tools for themselves, but their adequate use to achieve an intent.

¹ I will never forget that once I bought a Olympus 1.8 75mm lens for the wedding of a relative, only to be taught later that low DoF was not the taste of the bride. Oh well…


  1. I apologize for not commenting earlier. You have been on a wonderful roll of lovely pictures since the snow covered branches. I look forward every day to your née post.

    1. James, thanks for the praise – and certainly no need to apologize! In those times of such a multitude of images nobody has time to see, a small but stable crowd of blog visitors is a highly appreciated reward. I’ll try my best to go one with my somewhat quiet imagery, as I feel that this expresses best my reception of my habitat.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *