Using Your Aperture Settings for Innovative Photography

Do You Always Shoot in Auto?

If you are one of those people who own a DSLR camera that never moves away from the auto setting, This article is aimed at you, because you are not using a tool that that is built into almost every camera that allows for innovative photography and give you control over your ultimate photo: the aperture setting, AKA the f-stop.

Mode Dial
Generic mode dial for
digital cameras showing some of the most common modes. (Actual mode dials can vary from camera to camera. For example, point-and-shoot cameras don't often have manual modes.) Manual modes: Manual (M), Program (P), Shutter priority (S), Aperture priority (A). Automatic modes: Auto, Action, Portrait, Night portrait, Landscape, Macro.

For a better grasp of the potential of its use, up front you must understand the meaning of "depth of field," the subsequent outcome of your aperture choice. Depth of field is the part of an image that is sharply in focus. This area may be enlarged or reduced by precise aperture selection during your initial exposure.

Just how can you tell if the aperture you have selected will provide you with a shallow or extended field depth? The numbers tell it all. If it's a big number, the field depth will be extended If it's a small number, the result will be a shallow focus area. Setting your aperture to f/22 will result in a sharper overall photo than an aperture of of f/2.8.

Aperture for Innovative Control
Most DSLR cameras, provide two ways to modify the aperture to your benefit. One technique is by using the setting normally marked "Av", which means aperture value. This setting lets you choose the f-stop opening that best matches your needs. As a consequence, your shutter speed will fine-tune to a slower or faster setting as necessary for obtaining a decent exposure. If capturing the action is not a priority for acquiring the subject, this is usually the simplest and most dependable way to play around with feasible aperture settings for image composition.

Another way to for aperture control is by using the absolute manual setting which is most often marked "M". This setting will let you to select both the aperture and the shutter speed, realizing a sense of balance between your shutter setting speed and your field depth that best goes with your shooting style. Your camera manual can provide you with more specific information about each of the settings on the camera exposure control dial.

Aperture Helps Remove the Clutter
If you ever shot images of your children while at play, thinking you’d capture incredible moments of their personalities, but only to view your prints and notice a messy, cluttered room instead? Now you can start making use f-stop power when you’re shooting those candid photos at home. This is a chore for the full open f-stop, with an f/2.8 setting or so. When you open your camera's aperture to its most widest setting, the result is that of a shallow field depth, throwing everything except ypur subject into a soft focus. The clutter didn't go away, but it has a soft focus which detracts less from your primary subject, your children's happy faces.

Tip: If you're shooting photos of friends, family, or pets using an aperture that's wide-open, be sure that your focus point is their eyes. As long as their eyes are clearly in focus, any softness around the edges will go mostly unnoticed.

Aperture Puts It All into Focus
Looking at the other side of the spectrum, sometimes there are situations where you will seek the most field depth available. Any scene that necessitates sharp detail throughout falls fit into this group, such as expansive landscapes or urban cityscapes. But this is not just a tool for scenery, although. If you are shooting sports, a bigger depth of focus guarantees that the biggest portion of the sports field stays in focus.

This becomes important, due to the quick moving action across the playing field at any chosen point in time. If only one section of the sports field is focused when you click the shutter, your subject might not be inside your area of focus if you are using a shallow depth of field. (When shooting sports or quick-moving subjects, your shutter speed is most often the most important variable to think about when stopping action.)

No matter the field depth, every photo contains a point of focus where the ultimate photo is the crispest and clearest. When focusing on a subject, think about the position at where you want your crispest focus and utilize that as your focus point (something like a person’s eyes).

A Few other Tips Plus an Aperture Ruse
Also you need to know that your lens selection affects the aperture and consequently the depth of field. A telephoto lens will compress an image, allowing things in your image to appear close together although they are really quite further apart. The inverse is true when using a wide-angle optical lens.

When you select the macro position (the flower on the camera mode dial) the consequence will be an extremely shallow field depth. While this can be a benefit in capturing close-up shots of items like flowers, you should accept the fact that a portion of your photo will have a somewhat soft focus.

A trick for this kind of photography involves employing a telephoto lens. If you can back up far off enough to use the zoom on your subject using a wide aperture setting of f/5.6 or more, you can detach your subject, blur your background and still capture a crisp image.

If you have been wanting to explore the full potential of your camera, a great starting place is the Av setting. Set the lens to a wider opening or simply stop it down to realize the quantity of focus you desire to best display the charm of your subject. A great resource for those of you desiring to know more controlling exposure as a creation tool is a book by Brian Peterson, "Understanding Exposure: How To Shoot Great Photographs".  New Article Jun 21, 2011

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