Have you ever seen the photos where only the main subject is in focus and the rest of the image is blurry or fuzzy? Have you ever wondered how to do that yourself? It is a simple technique that requires you to turn off the Automatic settings and change to manual. Oh scary thought I know.
The setting you need to control is aperture. Aperture is the camera’s eye and just like the human pupil it can go small to take in less light or big to take in more. It is measured in f stops and is usually represented by a number, eg f2.8, f5.6, f/8 etc.
It is at this point that it can get confusing. The more light you want to let in, the smaller the number needs to be (known as wide aperture) and the less light you want, the larger the number (known as narrow aperture). Confusing right? Stay with me as we are almost there.
The more light you let in, the less detail you will see in your photo. This is known as depth of field (DOF) and refers to the amount of photo in focus. So to achieve a small DOF, we need to set a small f number (or wide aperture). If you do that, you will see images like these:
When can you use this simple technique? In portrait photography, when you want focus on the eyes only. In situations where you have distractions in the background and that will take the viewers eye away from the important part of the image. Also when taking still photography like flowers, fruit and cupcakes.
So if you have made it to the end of this blog, I am proud of you. Now for those with a DSLR camera, turn off the auto setting and change it to Aperture Priority. This will allow you to play with the aperture and the camera will take care of the other settings, like shutter speed and ISO.
For those with point and shoot cameras, you can select the “portrait” function on your camera to give you a wide aperture. It may not give you as much control but you won’t miss out on the fun .
April 27, 2011