Aperture settings

Ok its now time to look at the more nitty gritty points with regards to settings on the camera, I though the first area we could look at is Aperture and how this impacts on the photograph, the exposure and the light which we have mentioned is Photography.

I know several wedding photographers that dislike the bokeh effect you can produce with a small f-stop, remember the smaller the number, the bigger the aperture, the more light that enters the lens.

I do understand how this effect can become the normal, many part time wedding photographers will leave their camera set to the dreaded auto mode, which can allow the camera to set the smallest f-stop possible, also with zoom lenses, these tend to reduce the aperture setting as you zoom, I personally hate zoom lenses, I prefer to move in order to get the photo, I use prime lenses which provide the most incredibly sharp images and it helps keep me on my toes, anticipating whats about to happen, this is so important as a wedding reportage photographer.

I love using my favorite 85mm lens, Its superb when I focus on my subject, I keep the F-stop to f1.4, in very bright conditions I may have to increase the shutter speed to its highest setting or I have been know to use a ND filter, this has been very useful especially when photographing weddings abroad.

This image of Tracy was taken in Somerset at a wonderful National Trust property, using a very large aperture (Small F-Stop) I was able to bring the focus onto my subject!

So we can see how the aperture setting you select has a much more creative role to play than simply deciding how much light passes through the lens. It determines how much of your photograph appears in focused. When you focus a lens, the distance that it's focused at will always appear sharp.

Now you see how you can use the aperture setting to create an "area of focus" this extends in front of and behind your focus point, so that more of the scene appears sharp. This zone of focus is called "depth of field."

Controlling the depth of field is an essential skill in photography, it allows everything in a landscape photograph from the closest detail to the farthest, to appear in focus, or lets say your taking a portrait photograph of the Bride and you want the Brides eyes to appear sharp, selecting the correct aperture will provide you with the perfect detailed shot.

To help get this area of photography into the brain cells is quite easy really, the smaller the f-number (f/1.4 or f/2.8, for example), the smaller the depth of field, you are choosing what you wish to be sharp; so the opposite is true the bigger the f-number (f/8 or f /16, for example), the bigger the depth of field, and the more of a scene appears sharp, these F-stops work perfectly for large groups or maybe you are taking a shot of the Bride and Groom and you want the venue behind them to be in focus or maybe for a landscape photograph, there is also hyper-focusing that can be great for these types of shots but we can discuss this little trick later, there is so much to talk about I tend to go off course!

Theres a great little test you can try to see the effect for yourself, get someone to stand approximately 10 ft away from you from you and try to get somewhere with the background about 20 ft further back.

Switch that magic dial to (AV) aperture priority (just remember we are moving away from Auto) ok we can let you for the moment set the white balance and ISO to Auto.

Now take several photos with a variety of aperture settings, from the largest to the smallest. If you now look at your photos on your Mac/PC you will be able to see for yourself, how changing the Aperture alters the image and will evidence to you, how much of your image appears sharp at each aperture setting that's depth of field.

Hopefully this little blog has helped you to understand how Aperture impacts on your photograph, I'm next going to cover shutter speed, I must admit this is one of my favorite settings to play with, capturing those slow flowing streams to the stars in the sky.