As I was writing 12 Tips for DSLR Beginners I knew I wanted to take each tip further and get into it in more detail, something that I couldn’t do in the post itself or it would have ended up a book!
I talked in tip 1 about getting out of Auto Mode at your own pace and not feeling pressured to jump straight into manual mode.
Do what’s best for you!
If jumping straight in it is, then go ahead. If you want to take a more relaxed approach then maybe ease it in gently over time. Either way you’ll need an understanding of how your camera captures light to be able to understand how to get the best out of your camera.
So for when you’re ready here’s a look at Aperture:
What we’re talking about here is Exposure (oh no she’s going to talk about science stuff – don’t panic!)
Part of the reason you bought a DSLR was to have the ability to be more creative. And having the ability to adjust the exposure (how much light the camera gets) is what sets a DSLR apart from the majority of Point and Shoots out there.
Now to start getting more out of your DSLR you need to learn about light and how your DSLR can deal with it. You can do this by learning how to use (and how they work) Aperture Priority (AV), Shutter Priority (TV) and Manual Mode (M) (I should also include ISO in there). So to help you on your way to do that I’m going to look at each one, so you can start to understand what it is, and how it affects your camera.
Then you can see how it would help, and when to use it, to take better photos.
What is Aperture?
So lets start with the basics – what is an Aperture?
In photography the Aperture is in the camera’s lens.
It’s the opening in the lens that lets light through to the image sensor when the shutter is open.
You can adjust the size of the opening to let more or less light into the camera.
The aperture opening is measured in f stops or sometimes you’ll hear them called f numbers, and these are the numbers that you see on your lens:
f1.8 f2 f2.8 f4 f5.6 f8 f11 f16 f22
The confusing thing is that naturally you’d think that f2.8 being a small number would be a small opening in the lens and f22 being a larger number would be a large opening in the lens…
…but they’re not – that’s where they getcha!
The smaller the number the larger the opening the more light that’s let into the camera, and the larger the number the smaller the opening the less light that’s let into the camera.
Still with me? This diagram may help:
How do I use it?
So now you know what it is, lets look at how you can use Aperture Priority (AV) to take better photos.
Aperture gives you the ability to create depth of field in your photos and gives you control over it.
If you want the main focus of your image to really stand out like a portrait of somebody or a beautiful flower shot, then you can do that by using a shallow depth of field, by using a large aperture (eg. f2.8 = large opening, more light). That means the focus of the image is…. well…. in focus and the rest of the image is blurred or out of focus.
The rose on the left was taken with an aperture of f22 and the same rose on the right was taken with an aperture of f5.6, you can see how much more the rose stands out on the right compared to the left.
When you hear people talking about using a large aperture they’re talking about the opening in the lens and not the ‘size’ of the number eg. f1.8.
Likewise when you hear people talking about a small aperture they’re talking about the opening in the lens and not the number eg. f22.
Alternatively if you were taking a landscape and wanted everything in focus then you could use a small aperture (eg. f16 = small opening, less light). Then the whole of the image will be in focus like in this landscape below.
The only disadvantage with this is that the smaller the aperture (large number) the longer the shutter speed is that the camera chooses, so you need to use a tripod to avoid capturing hand shake. As long as your landscape doesn’t run away you’ll be fine!
When I began to take my first steps outside of auto mode I used Aperture Priority mode to start of with.
Aperture Priority is a semi-manual mode, you have control over the aperture and how large or small you want it, then the camera decides what the shutter speed needs to be for the shot. Just turn the dial on your camera to AV and you’re good to go!
small number – large opening – shallow depth of field = large aperture
large number – small opening – large depth of field = small aperture
You can get some great results with depth of field and really bring out the detail in a shot.
So get out there, get shooting and share a link to your images in the comments….
Stay tuned for Shutter Priority.