From Auto to Manual | DSLR Tutorials and Tips | Part 1: Aperture
Joyce told us that she gets lots of questions from her clients on how to take better pictures of their children in between professional photography sessions. She wrote this great article to help the parents with DSLR cameras learn more about how to get better pictures from learning to use the Manual Mode:
Taking Control: From Auto to Manual
Taking Control: From Auto to Manual is a new series for those of you who are looking to “photography freedom”. By learning the Manual Mode (M) on your camera, you are in the driver seat, taking full control on exactly how your images will come out. I will show you step by step how you can get the best possible photos from your digital SLR camera. Follow me for the next few weeks to learn the ins and outs of manual mode.
Photography is all about light! It’s about how much light is entering your camera to create the “proper” exposure for your photographs. Three factors inter-related in getting proper exposure and you might have heard the name, Exposure Triangle. And they are:
- Shutter Speed
These factors work together in different combinations to give you the correct exposure by controlling how much light is let in into your camera. We will cover each element in the exposure triangle so you can get the best grasp of the basics, to set a firm foundation to start taking control of our digital photos.
Aperture (or f-stop) is the size of the lens opening when the picture was taken. The smaller the number, the larger the opening thus more light is let in, and vice versa. Aperture is like the pupil of your eyes. When the light is dim, your pupil opens up to let more light in; and when the light is bright, your pupil contracts to let less light in.
Depth of Field + Focus Plane
By changing the size of your aperture, many things will happen. One of them is Depth of Field or DOF. Depth of Field is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that will appear focused in an image. A large DOF means more will be focused in a scene of your image whether it’s closer or farther away from your camera. A shallow (small) DOF means only small amount in a scene of your image will be in focus. The DOF is affected by the size of your focal plane which is controlled by the size of the aperture. The larger the aperture (f/1.8), the thinner is the focus plane. The smaller the aperture (f/22), the thicker is the focus plane.
Think of focus plane is like a hardback bound book, standing upright on a table. At F/1.8, the focus plane is very thin (like a children’s book, such as Dr. Seuss’s ABC). The only part that will be in focus are what’s between the front and back covers. So at f/1.8, DOF is shallow with less in focus and more blurred. However, in a scene shot at F/22, the focus plane is very thick (think of a reference book, like a large dictionary). The focus plane is a lot thicker so you will have a large DOF where most of the scene will be in focus and less blurred.
In the following examples, I used aperture of 2.8, 5.6 and 11 to show you the “thickness” of the focus plane at different aperture settings. For the purpose of the demonstration, I placed my center focus point on line 12.
Shot at Aperture setting F2.8
You can see the Focus Plane is very thin. There are only 2 lines are in focus so the DOF is very shallow, meaning most of the image is blurred.
Shot at Aperture Setting F5.6
You can see the Focus Plane is getting larger compare to F2.8, where now there are more lines in focus. DOF is getting larger with F5.6.
Shot at Aperture Setting F11
The focus plane is obviously larger compare to F2.8. Now this image has more scene that are in focus. The DOF is significantly larger than at F2.8.
As you can see, Aperture size is how to achieve the blurred background we all love. By shooting a subject at a shallow Depth of Field such as F2.8, our subject will be clear and sharp while the background is blurred. This is best used when you want to isolate a subject from the background elements. However, keep in mind that since f2.8 has shallow focus plane, it requires much practice to get perfectly sharp images.
Tip: Analyze the subject of your scene and select the BEST aperture setting for it. For example, if your subject is moving, F8 and above might be your best bet since focus plane is thicker. If your subject is non-moving such as a sleeping child, F4 or F5.6 might be a good choice.
For more great tips for going Auto to Manual, check out Joyce around the web!
napcp contributor meet Joyce Kang
About the Contributor: I am an on-location, available light photographer in Austin Texas, specialize in intimate, authentic and emotive portraiture of children, family and love! My favorite photographic medium is film. I love the vivid colors & romantic look of film.
9 Tips for a Successful Session with a ToddlerYou probably had photos taken of your baby, but now you are a parent of a toddler! We all know how fun toddlers are: opinionated, full of energy, playful, but also full of emotions, testing boundaries and challenging. They are fun but they are also a lot of work. Sometimes we dread going anywhere with […]
July 2018 Inspired Magazine: Featuring 2018 International Image Competition Winners!This month’s issue of Inspired features our February 2018 International Image Competition Winners! Click here to read their exclusive interviews, learn more about the 2018 Best New Emerging Child Photographer, and see the photos we have featured this month from our #napcp hashtag on Instagram. Print your copy of Inspired straight from MagCloud! Share your […]
The Inspired by NAPCP Gallery Event is Now Open for Submissions!There’s nothing quite like a print competition. And we’re once again giving photographers the opportunity to experience a new aspect of their artistry in this way. Announcing the Second Annual Inspired by NAPCP Gallery Event! A creative competition and gallery reception. Through this event we hope you are inspired to take time to develop your […]
The Most Beautiful Celtic Themed Motherhood Photography SessionIt was over a year ago when I first met the beautiful mother (Lindsay) who was the focus of this photography session. We met at the Rock Your Bump trade show that I had the pleasure of being a vendor at in April of 2017. Lindsay came to me with the vision to capture the […]
We are so delighted that you are here. The National Association of Professional Child Photographers is an association whose mission is to promote and support the artistry and integrity of professional child photographers. To accomplish this mission, NAPCP provides the most comprehensive resources for its members, bringing together a community of passionate artists committed to growth in their skills, their artistry, and their businesses.
NAPCP.com (formally pronounced "NAP-C-P") is a place where professional child photographers can come and connect, learn, teach, aspire and grow. It is also a valuable resource for parents who are looking for a professional child photographer in their area, and want to be inspired and educated about our specialized industry.
July 2018 Inspired Magazine: Featuring 2018 International Image Competition Winners!
This month’s issue of Inspired features our February 2018 International Image Competition Winners! Click here to read their exclusive interviews, learn more about the 2018 Best New Emerging Child Photographer, and see the photos we have featured this month from our #napcp hashtag on Instagram. Print your copy of Inspired straight from MagCloud! Share your […]
June 2018 Inspired Magazine: Featuring Lena Antaramian!
This month’s issue of Inspired features Lena Antaramian of Live Love Laugh Photos! Click here to read Lena’s exclusive interview, see all of the Semifinalists in the Best New Emerging Child Photographer Contest, and see which photos we have featured this month from our June hashtag on Instagram. Print your copy of Inspired straight from […]
May 2018 Inspired Magazine: Featuring Marena Rudy!
This month’s issue of Inspired features Marena Rudy of Marena Beck Photography! Click here to read Marena’s exclusive interview, learn all about our upcoming contests and events, and see which photos we have featured this month from our May hashtag on Instagram. Print your copy of Inspired straight from MagCloud! Share your favorite pieces with […]
April 2018 Inspired Magazine: Featuring 2017 NAPCP Ambassadors!
This month’s issue of Inspired features NAPCP’s 2017 Ambassadors! Click here to read their interviews, find out who’s who for 2018, craft positively perfect paper flowers for Mother’s Day, and see which photos we have featured this month from #napcp on Instagram. Print your copy of Inspired straight from MagCloud! Share your favorite pieces with […]
The National Association of Professional Child Photographers is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com