Photo Essentials in 10: All About Aperture Part 2

Last week, we talked about F-stops and how they let in light. I know that didn’t seem like the most interesting topic, but it is important to understand how your camera works to know why you need to change it’s settings to get certain photos.

We learned that the smaller the f-stop, the more light your camera lets in- and the bigger the f-stop, the less light your camera lets in.

Not only does this affect how much light your camera will show on film, it also changes how your subject, as well as any background and foregrounds will look as well.

When you are photographing a craft, or doing a portrait, you’ll likely want an artistic blurry background (isn’t that why we all downloaded Instagram?). When taking photos of a landscape, you’d most likely prefer a majority of it in focus.

Manipulating your aperture can get you both of these results- and with just a quick roll of the dial.

When we set a low number for our aperture, we let a lot more light into our camera’s lens. Because this light comes from a bigger opening, it is less focused and the depth of field is more shallow- meaning the point where your camera focuses will be clear, and the rest will get blurry.

When we set a high number, the camera lets in less light- but it is highly concentrated, like a spotlight. This allows for a larger depth of field, meaning there will be much more in focus than just your focus point.

In the picture above, the yellow brad was where I set my camera to focus each time (see this post for more info on setting a fixed focus point for your camera).

Note how on 6.3, the green brad is slightly blurry, and the brad with the heart is quite blurry.

Below, on f22, you can see how all of the brads are in focus, even though my focus point was still off to the left. TIP: To accommodate for such a high f stop, you will need to increase your ISO and shutter speed to let in more light.

The picture below really shows the difference in apertures on a 50mm lens (which is largely popular for craft/food bloggers):

Note the white felt star and the bakers twine in the background of the f22 picture. By F11, the twine is barely discernible- and by F1.8 it has disappeared altogether.

You can also note how the chain of the necklace appears. In F22, you can clearly make out the very top of the necklace where the clasp is. In F1.8, it is completely blurred and you only have a very small area in focus.

When taking craft photos, it is important to have a good mix of apertures. An artistic, blurry background help draw in readers/buyers and helps them focus on intricate details- but you don’t want to overlook all the important other details, especially if this was something you were selling. In that situation, a shot with 1.8 might be a nice “hero shot” to draw people in, but I’d include a few higher F-stop shots that included more details and gave a clear picture of the entire piece so it isn’t deceptive or hard to figure out what it will look like in person.

I take most of my craft/food photos with my 50mm lens, somewhere in between f1.8 – f3. This allows me to set a very low ISO of 100, but still be able to get crisp photos inside, or on my favorite location- my front porch (the worn wood in most of my pics? It isn’t a cool backdrop- it is my front porch railing which is SORELY in need of a fresh coat of paint, but I digress...).

So what setting should you take pictures on? Well, that is entirely up to you and your aesthetic- but this week’s “homework” will help you hone in on YOUR individual style!

This weeks homework:

Try out Aperture priority mode and get comfortable with setting your ISO and Fstops.

Photograph:

-a person

-an animal

-a craft or food

-your house

-a landscape

For each subject, set your ISO at the lowest you possibly can, and then try F 1.8, 6, 11, and 22 (if on a 50mm- otherwise, find a range of numbers that your lens has- as different types of lenses have different minimum and maximum f stop settings).

Next, set your ISO at 800, and do the same. Notice how the lighting changes, how your subject is or isn’t in focus, and how quickly you hear the shutter snap.

Now you’re ready to play around. If 1.8 is too light or blurry, try 3.2 or reduce your ISO. If 11 is too dark, try 8 and increase your ISO. Get a feel for how ISO and aperture work together!

One quick note- check your screen for feedback on how the depth of field changes your photos, as the viewfinder will not give you an accurate image. Since screens aren’t totally reliable, be sure to take a few pictures on each setting- then you can pick from a multitude of pictures when editing. Until you KNOW your settings, it is best to take a lot of pictures to ensure you have the ONE great shot. So much easier than re-shooting! 

 

Comments

    • says

      I don’t have a Nikon, so I haven’t done any. But I plan on borrowing a friends soon so I can update some of the posts! The cameras have slightly different names for things, but it is the same principle though- if there is anything specific you can’t find a solution for let me know and I will get you an answer!

  1. says

    Thank you so much for these great tutorials! I think photography is really interesting but I’m clueless about…well, pretty much the entire process. I really appreciate such a great introduction to these basics, I’ll have to get started on my homework projects =)

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