Tuesday’s Tip…learning how to use Aperture Priority! So, shooting in manual mode is still overwhelming? Then you should learn how to use the 2 semi-automatic priority modes…shutter priority and aperture priority. Today I’m going to focus on Aperture Priority. Get out your manual if you need to. Switch the little mode dial to A or Av (depending on if you are a Nikon or Canon user.) This will give you full control over the aperture, which means the depth of field shown in your picture.
Here’s a little write up about aperture taken from my DSLR Camera Class Handbook that I give to the participants in my camera class:
What is Aperture?
Aperture is the size of the opening in the lens when a picture is taken. It is the “iris” of the camera. It is measured in ‘f-stops’. Moving from one f-stop to the next doubles or halves the size of the amount of opening in your lens. f/2.8 is a larger aperture and lets more light in than f/22. (It is backwards from what you think it should be!) Aperture allows 2 things…more light and more depth of field. The smaller the number, the more depth of field.
A large depth of field (DOF) means your image will be in focus whether it’s close to your camera or far away. f/22 would allow for this. A small depth of field or shallow depth of field means that only part of the image is in focus and the rest will be blurry. f/4.5 can create this. f/1.8 or 2.8 creates even more blur and has a more dramatic effect.
How To Use Aperture Priority Mode:
This mode lets you select the aperture and the camera chooses shutter speed to give you a proper exposure. Aperture priority mode is useful when you want to control the depth of field in a shot (usually a stationary object where you don’t need to control shutter speed). A larger number aperture means the aperture (or the opening in your camera when shooting) is smaller and lets less light in. This means you’ll have a larger depth of field (more of the scene will be in focus) but that your camera will choose a slower shutter speed. Small numbers means the opposite- your aperture is large and lets more light in. You will have a small depth of field and your camera will probably choose a faster shutter speed for you. The number for aperture corresponds with “f/#” and is called the f/stop.Go as low as you can go with the number.
So, here’s a little activity for you to do. Set the aperture number really wide to your smallest number and take a picture. Then set it really narrow to your larger number and take a picture. Look at the difference. Most lenses that come with the camera go to around f/4. (I have a fixed lens. Fixed lenses let you take it even lower. My lens lets me go to f/1.8. It’s amazing, which you will see in the photos I posted below.) Take a photo at each interval with being the same distance from the object. If you don’t see much difference, move your body closer to the object. Aperture is affected by 2 variables…your physical distance to the object/subject AND also how wide of an aperture your camera lens will let you go!
Here’s a few pictures to show you the difference between two extremes…f/1.8 and f/22.
This upcoming Saturday on April 9th I will be teaching another DSLR Class. If you’re interested in more details, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.