In this lesson, we are going to talk about the manual mode settings and the depth of field in flat lays.

But, before we move on, let’s repeat what the depth of field is, and how you can achieve it.




What the Depth of Field is

Depth of Field (DoF) is the distance between the nearest and the furthest elements in a scene that appear to be “acceptably sharp” in an image.

You can find on this link the lesson about the Depth of Field (which is inside of the Photography Fundamentals course).

There is a shallow depth of field and wider depth of field, and this is determined by:

  • aperture (f-stop),
  • distance between the camera and the subject and
  • focal length of the lens (higher focal length = shallower depth of field it can create).

Depth of field in flat lays

The depth of field is crucial in flat lays images.

Generally, when we create flat lays, we aim for the deeper depth of field. This means that we need to create a larger distance between the nearest and the furthest elements that appear to be “acceptably sharp” in the image. In this case, your f-stop number should be around 7 and more. Some photographers they even go to f-stop 22, in order to include more objects and levels in focus.

As you can see in the image below, the objects we use in the frame have different heights. Shooting with the deeper depth of field helps us to capture sharply all these elements.

In this image below, there are different heights in this image – the bottles, leaves, pomegranate seeds, pomegranates, and different levels of the lemons too. I wanted to make all these objects in focus, for this reason, I used f10 here.

When to use shallow depth of field in flat lays

Sometimes you might want to use the shallow depth of field in flat lays as well, and it’s absolutely ok!

The shallow depth of field allows you to be more creative with composition and storytelling, and create that magical feeling when the levels above and below the main subject are blurred.

You can see this example, where I focused on the cake and let the rest of the image blurred.

This image was shot at my crop sensor camera,

50mm prime lens, f2,8. To create a more blurred effect,

I positioned this cake on a smaller stand.


It’s great to include a few levels in your flat lays and we will speak about it in the next module – about creative flat lay compositions.

Recommended lessons to go through:

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