May 27, 2010

aperture instead of auto....well, it's a start

this photo is just fun
which is what i needed when a few people who i adore said
"are you crazy"
"teaching aperture is hard when everyone has a different camera and multiple lenses"
and
i banged my head against the wall
~
but
if you know me
i kind of like challenges
so here goes
~
in order to get everyone on the same play ground and not talk about or get confused about focal length and iso and exposure and shutter speed and spot metering {today}....everything i'm suggesting you do is based on you being outside on a beautiful sunny day, so that light is not a factor and all we're going to do is take our cameras off of auto and put them on aperture priority instead. that will be an A or an AV on your camera. if you have a point and shoot, your lower numbered aperture is your portrait setting and your higher number aperture is your landscape setting....so i've been told.
~
aperture refers to the opening in the camera through which light passes into the lens
~simple right, until you read the definition below which is opposite to our thinking~
~
the smaller your aperture number, the more light you'll have to work with
the larger your aperture number, the less light you'll have to work with
or
as my hubby likes to say....if you squint your eyes, one thing is in focus and the background is blurry, which is how he remembers that that means you need a little number if that is the effect you are trying to get. if you want everything in focus, open your eyes wide and that represents a larger aperture number.
~
most aperture numbers will look something like this
1~1.4~2.8~4~5.6~8
and
on up
~
now today, on our bright and sunny play ground, the reason for playing with your aperture is to get your subject in focus and to blur out your background. this is called "depth of field" or "dof".......if your aperture is set at it's lowest, let's say 2.8 and you have a flower right in front of you, you will have a narrow depth of field, since the area in focus is relatively narrow and your background will be blurry.
~
let's look at my examples below

aperture 2.8
aperture 11.0

aperture 2.8
~i only wanted to concentrate on the purple irises~
aperture 13.0
aperture 2.8
~see the difference in the sky, overall color and blurred house~
aperture 11.0
aperture 5.6
~i switched to auto for this shot just to see what it would take my aperture to and it took it to 5.6 which is what the camera wanted and that's fine, but i prefer a blurrier background~
aperture 2.8
aperture 10.0
~~~
most of these photos were at a focal length of 30-50 mm and since those of you with a d-slr have your kit lens, you should be able to get something similar, photo wise. beware though, that you might have lenses that don't go as low as 1.4 or 2.8...they may only be a 4.6 aperture lens, in which you will have lots of experimenting to do.
~~
one thing you might notice when playing with aperture, is the change in coloring in your photos...more of a washed out look....and some of you might not like that and others will be playing with their photos in photoshop, so that doesn't really matter then.
~
i think one of the most important times to know how your aperture works is when you are shooting portraits. it's really nice to be able to eliminate an ugly background when you have a cutie patootie in front of you. also, if you are in a low light situation and you don't want to use your flash {which is always me} you need to set your aperture at it's lowest setting. granted there are some other things you'll also need to change, but remember we are just at the beginning of learning something new and this is a good start.
~~~
like i said earlier, there are so many other components to your camera to go along with aperture and beautiful photos, but if this can be a start for you to stop shooting on auto and makes you feel like you have a bit of control over your camera, then it's certainly worth playing around a bit. it took me learning aperture to feel confident to shoot on manual and all i can suggest is to photograph something everyday. don't leave your house without your camera. take too many photos of everything. if you're not driving, yell "pull over" when you see something fantastic and most of all, don't be afraid to play. you can always go back to auto if you get frustrated, but if you have a nice d-slr which many of you do, play...play...play and learn to love what you're holding in your hands.
~~
by the way
i'm not a teacher at all
seriously
not one little bit
so
if any of you have suggestions you want to add...or corrections or questions....throw them this way. let's have a party.
~
i'll bring the mike's hard lemonade
*

39 comments:

  1. These are beautiful! When I have some time this weekend, I'm going to experiment too ;)

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  2. thanks for such a wonderful tutorial on aperture. you summed it up nicely. it's official, you're our new teacher Camera 101.

    I only work in manual now after a friend helped me out. A quick way to remember the numbers big/ small openings is to look at your light outside. If it's BIG light you need BIG number, low light, low number. Well, that's what my friend and I use anyway. Hope it helps.

    Have a great day.

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  3. That was extremely interesting! I am not a photographer at all; but I loved learning about this subject. It all made sense to me and I think your tutorial is just wonderful!!!

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  4. ~ Better than books!
    ~ NOW I'll remember it for always!!
    ~ Thanks!!!

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  5. okay,
    you are a teacher.
    I got it , finally.

    I am so excited to take pics and see the difference.
    I use picnik to fiddle, the exposure helps with this,
    but I want to understand and do it in the camera.

    Thank you Thank you!!!!!!!

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  6. squinting!!!! thanks for the great tutorial ... your teaching internship is going well ...

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  7. First time I have visited your blog. Love the photo of the irises. Was just out photographing my garden! Will stop by again.

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  8. Interesting exercise and lesson here. Thank-you!!!

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  9. Awww Beth...you are such a great teacher. Wish I had someone explain this to me like you do here when I started out! I swear, I was soooo confused. But when you get out and practice, it all makes sense. And it sure helps when someone explains it in a more fun way!!!

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  10. Great instruction!! Now I am sitting here waiting for the lemonade!! Refills??
    Hugs
    SueAnn

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  11. Thanks so much!!!!!
    When I first got my camera, I took a class just to learn how to turn the camera on. I was overwhelmed with it all, but you make aperature much easier to understand. I usually don't shoot in automatic, but it is always guess work. Definitely you are the teacher I can learn from.

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  12. Many thanks for putting it into terms I could understand AND for your excellent illustrations! I actually stopped reading your narrative (sorry) after seeing the pictures because I was afraid I would get confused. I'm an experiential learner, so too many words put me off. That's my excuse anyway. . . ;-}

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  13. Thanks Beth...slowly, slowly getting the hang of things in camera/computer land...cheers.

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  14. What do you mean you're not a teacher? This is the most comprehensible explanation I have ever heard. I especially like how your husband used the Squinty eyes as an analogy. This is great stuff, Beth. Thanks!

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  15. AnonymousMay 27, 2010

    Thanks so much you are an excellent teacher! How kind of you to share!

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  16. OK Beth...I have one correction...YOU ARE A TEACHER...and a great one! Thank you thank you thank you....I am bringing the red wine!

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  17. Great lesson...now I need you to teach me photoshop..I have had it for 3 months and have still not had the time to sit and figure it out. Thanks for visiting me! Love your blog. xoxoxo

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  18. You have a knack for teaching. This is very easy to understand and I thank you for it. Wonderfully done.

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  19. AnonymousMay 27, 2010

    Hi! It all made sense to me. I plan to give it a try over the weekend. Thank you! Hugs, Cheryl

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  20. ok, it all just clicked for me... I am going to take lots of pics this weekend.
    The squinty eye thing helps me SOOOOO much i was always getting that mixed up!
    WOw...
    You are a great teacher.

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  21. You did good! I love actually seeing the difference, I do a lot of pics with shallow depth of field, very shallow, I think I need to experiment more with the in-between range.

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  22. totally fabulous... the lesson and the images... wonderful!

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  23. Very nice, even if one already understands aperture & shutter speed and depth of field and all that confusing stuff. I think you are so right in telling people to take the camera off auto. Usually fine for snapshots, but you want more control when you want more control. LOL! Keep it up! My neighbor who is a photography teacher/photographer also teaches his students to juggle. It was required 20 years ago when I studied under him, and still is.

    So. Juggling next?

    :) Debi

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  24. I love this. And I love your blog. It makes me want to take pictures of everything, which I already do. My brother and I are trigger happy when it comes to photos. We will take pictures of absolutely everything in a thousand ways when on holiday and afterward everyone gets all upset and say 'but where are the people that went on holiday' :).

    I have taken photography before, but if you don't actively use what you've learned you lose a lot of it and there was a time when my brother and I had to share our only camera. Your lesson is a wonderful reminder, and an excellent motivator to get snap happy again. Experimenting is all the excuse I need.

    Thanks a mil!

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  25. There are so many variables when it comes to aperture. You post is good as it keeps to the point and not difficult to follow.

    PS: I put up my post with photos of myself and some of my friends too just as an extra bonus.

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  26. hmmm...my kit lens only goes to 4.6 and sometimes down to about 4.2. I didn't realize they went even further. I thought you have to go to a special lens for that. Well, I guess in my case, I do!! :-)

    Great first lesson, Beth! I like the squinty eye thing, too!

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  27. Thank you for this, Beth. I tend to keep my camera on shutter speed preferred. You've inspired me to try aperture preferred now. Who knows, before too long, I'll go totally manual.

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  28. I love it. LOVE IT!!! I've been messing with it trying to get bokeh, but I'm only playing. I don't know what I'm doing and I haven't taken the time to read my manual. So, I'd do things like focus on one thing then quick jiggle over to the other when I pressed the shutter. It works! Well, once out of 32 times. But, still... I got what I wanted. This will be MUCH, MUCH better. Thank you. Really, thank you!!

    The photos are what really helped. So? What's next?

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  29. this was so so interesting and helpful! seriously, just today, me andmy friend were trying to work out how to do d.o.f:) thankyou so much, have a fab weekend
    x

    peterbellandtinkerpan.blogspot.com

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  30. I'm with Caroline...it was SO confusing when I was first learning too..all those numbers going in the wrong direction! Then I had a few private lessons with a wonderful teacher who forced me to put my camera in manual mode and experiment with depth of field using some flower pots in a row. Was the best lesson ever... I'm definitely a hands-on learner!

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  31. What a wonderful post, you are a treasure my friend. Thank you for your birthday wishes, so very much appreciated......:-) Hugs

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  32. Hope you have a lovely holiday weekend and thanks so much for the lesson!

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  33. Thank You, Beth! Practicing.......

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  34. fantastic - since i was one of those saying how hard it would be! LOL but the thing is too...for those that want bokeh but don't have low aperture lenses, you can get it using a long range lens and doing close up shot. when you crop down, you will find you have a bokehed background.

    great lesson

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  35. Wonbderfullllll...
    I learned something!
    always a plus!
    Thanks for taking the time...
    You are a teacher...
    xoxo~Kathy @!
    Sweet Up-North Mornings...

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  36. I've been struggling with bokeh for months now. Have had two very good photographers try to explain it to me but could just not understand. Now I GET it! Since I read your lesson I've been out in the garden in the quickly falling light and am over the moon! Thank you so much!

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  37. Hi -- I recently stumbled upon your blog and I love it. Your pictures are absolutely beautiful and your writing is captivating. I am commenting on this particular post because for the first time I understand at least the principle of aperture -- your visual examples are great. Thank you so much. Blessings, Betty Anne

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  38. I was out shooting last night, and I had to come look up your tutorial today and make a few notes for my camera bag. I was so glad when you did it, and bookmarked it right away so I could find it again when I needed it.

    Will you do another one?

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**I love reading the comments you leave, as they make me feel like we're sitting in my kitchen, having a cup of tea, discussing life and wondering where all the time has gone ...beth