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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cawfee Tawk Tuesday: Aperature Part I

Happy Tuesday! Grab your "cawfee" and let's get down to business!

A lot of people have asked me how to get that cool blurry background in their photos. The answer lies in understanding "depth of field" and "aperature".

Depth of field is the zone of sharp focus in your images. If your image has sharp focus throughout, from the foreground to the background, you have a greater depth of field. If your image has one small area in focus, with the background and/or foreground blurry, it is said to have a "shallow depth of field". So how do you alter your depth of field?

This is where aperature comes is.

Aperature is simply a hole in your lens. It's the size of the opening of your lens when a photo is taken. Changing your aperature changes how big that opening is so that you can have a tiny opening or a large opening.

Huh?

When you press the shutter on your camera, you need to consider two things- how fast the lens opens and closes (shutter speed- we'll discuss it some other day) and how wide the lens opens and closes (aperature). By changing your aperature, you change how wide the lens opens- how much light you let in.

So how do you alter the aperature? Let me try to show you. Go get your camera. I'll wait here. OK, now check out your settings. Chances are you've got a dial or some button that lets you change your settings and chances are you've got some letters in those settings- M, P, S, and A maybe? Put your camera into A mode- that's Aperature mode.


Now that your camera is in the aperature setting, you can adjust the size of that hole in the lens either by turning a dial or pressing a button (sorry, but you need to check your manual to know which- each camera is a little different).

Aperature is measured by f/stops. The lower the number the f/stop is, the wider the opening of the lens is, and the higher the f/stop number is, the smaller that opening will be. Higher f/stop and smaller opening means greater depth of field (everything is in focus). Lower f/stop and wider opening means shallow depth of field (blurry background). You can see by my example below (btw... pardon the subjects I chose, but could you imagine me trying to get my 3 kids to sit still for this? Seriously, come on!) Can you see how the smaller f/stop makes just the Zoo box in focus, while with the higher f/stop everything is pretty much in focus?


So why is this important? What's the purpose of selecting a low f/stop or a high f/stop, and what's the big deal if my depth of field is shallow or not?

Well, that's a story for another Tuesday! Next week, we'll get into how to use aperature for story telling and portraiture. In the meantime I have a THREE part homework assignment for you! (no groaning and no back talking the teacher!)

1. Go back and reread this post- like I said it's a little hard to understand but so crucial to taking your photography to the next level- I base 95% of my portrait work on aperature!
2. Go read your camera manual and learn how to adjust the aperature (f/stops) on your camera. Ugh, annoying, yes. But so worth it!
3. Go shoot some objects around your home or neighborhood like I did above. Take 3 shots of the same object- shoot at a low f/stop (wider open lens), a mid-range f/stop, and then a higher f/stop (small opening)- depending on your camera, this could be f/4, f/8, and f/12 or it could be f/2, f/5, and f/22! Just experiment and download your images- see if you can see the difference.


And of course, share with me! I love hearing from you and want to know if you can see it too!


Happy shooting!

Jen



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