Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Wonderful World of Apertures!

I was hanging with Princess today outside {finally some decent weather!} when I realized that she would be the perfect model for a quick show-and-tell about Aperture.

The question I get asked by my friends more than anything else is 
"How can I get those great blurry backgrounds?"
The key to blurry backgrounds is your Aperture.  Your aperture setting controls your background focus more than any other aspect on your camera.

I could seriously spend hours days talking about the different aspects of aperture and how it relates to your focus and lighting, but I'll try narrow it down to baby bites and just show one thing at a time.

Today, I'll show you how changing those little numbers by just the smallest amounts can make a big difference in your images.

Here's the info:  
My camera was set on the Aperture mode.  I did that just for these shots so I didn't have to change all my settings for each one.
Most dslr's have "modes" on a top dial button.  The aperture mode is usually listed as "AV"...

Setting your camera to aperture mode lets YOU choose the aperture and your camera chooses the shutter speed and ISO.  This is easiest way to start experimenting with aperture if you're not wanting to shoot in full manual mode. 

Apertures or F stops are those numbers listed on the side of your lens.  For example, you may see a lens described like this:
50mm F/1.4
70-300 F/4-5.6
24-70 F/2.8 

The F numbers list the smallest aperture that the lens will open up to at any given focal length.  Here's a very basic explanation:
The smaller the number, the fewer things are in focus, the blurrier the background.
The bigger the number, the more things are in focus, the sharper the background.

You will not find that definition in any camera manual, but it's helped me in sorting out all this camera stuff!

So here's some pics to help explain what the aperture actually does in your image.  
I took my first picture after I set my aperture to the smallest number it would go.  On my lens {50mm} 1.4 is the smallest.  Not all lenses will go this low, some start at 2.8 and others at 3.5 or 4.  Check the side of your lens to see what your smallest aperture is.  I've labeled the pics as I changed my aperture setting each time and went up in numbers.

Take notice of how the tree branches and the house behind her are almost completely blurred at the 1.4 setting but definitely recognizable by the time I get to 3.5.

Now take a look at the next 3 images, you'll really be able to tell a big difference in the background at these higher apertures.  Look at the details in the tree trunk from 4.5 to 9.  

Can you tell the difference?  
Because I just love making collages {and more because Princess wasn't done modeling} I've made one more set for you to take a look at.  Check out the tree in the background and the lines of the fence...

I hope this helps someone but of course the best way to figure it all out is just do it!  Get out there and start changing up those dials and see what happens.  The more you experiment with it the more it will "click" with ya~ 

By the there anything cuter than a little girl in piggy tails???


Anonymous said...

That's a whole lot of great information!! Thank you!! Now to do it for myself!! LOL ;/

Erin said...

Super examples of the differences between apertures. I know this was enlightening for lots of people!

Hallmon said...

Thank you for putting it in such plain-terms. I've been bogging down in the technical and so am very appreciative of this clearest, most easy to understand way I've ever read aperatures described.

Anonymous said...

Appreaciate for the work you have done into the article, this helps clear away a few questions I had.

Blog Designed by Rita of CoffeeShop