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.
November 2018 Inspired Magazine: Featuring Pamela Salai!NAPCP’s November 2018 issue of Inspired magazine features Pamela Salai of Pamela Salai Photography, holiday NAPCP Gatherings, details on the 2019 Educational Summit, child portrait session tips, 4 Myths About School Photography, and more! Grab a cup of coffee and dive in! Print your copy of Inspired straight from MagCloud! Share your favorite pieces with […]
Happy ThanksgivingHappy Thanksgiving! We hope all of our members and friends have a wonderful, memorable holiday with family and friends. Thank you to all who tagged photos with the #NAPCPThankful hashtag — we are thankful for YOU! Here are some of our favorites: babyrosephoto | catchiappaphotography | courtneyathome | jennyperryphotography | kateluberphoto | megsausted | osirisphotography […]
Redefining the One-Year Portrait ExperienceInspiration — My one-year portrait elements are inspired by the parents, with my own neutral flair. For direction, this client asked for “rustic/floral”. She also wanted the look of a tutu in at least one portion, so I incorporated one of my many whimsical handmade dresses to tie in a classic, timeless look with a […]
Registration is NOW OPEN!! NAPCP Educational SummitHey, NAPCP! We hope you’re feeling refreshed and energized. We hopped right outta bed this morning because we’ve been looking forward to this day all weekend! Join us and our 6 amazing speakers, in Atlanta, Georgia, for the NAPCP Educational Summit! January 23, 2019 In one day you’ll learn about how being “discovered” is 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.
November 2018 Inspired Magazine: Featuring Pamela Salai!
NAPCP’s November 2018 issue of Inspired magazine features Pamela Salai of Pamela Salai Photography, holiday NAPCP Gatherings, details on the 2019 Educational Summit, child portrait session tips, 4 Myths About School Photography, and more! Grab a cup of coffee and dive in! Print your copy of Inspired straight from MagCloud! Share your favorite pieces with […]
Registration is NOW OPEN!! NAPCP Educational Summit
Hey, NAPCP! We hope you’re feeling refreshed and energized. We hopped right outta bed this morning because we’ve been looking forward to this day all weekend! Join us and our 6 amazing speakers, in Atlanta, Georgia, for the NAPCP Educational Summit! January 23, 2019 In one day you’ll learn about how being “discovered” is the […]
October 2018 Inspired Magazine: Featuring Inspired Gallery Event Winners!
NAPCP’s October 2018 issue of Inspired Magazine features our Inspired Gallery Event winners. Dive in and see what holiday items are available in the NAPCP shop, learn more from our most recent Marketing Mondays and much more! Print your copy of Inspired straight from MagCloud! Share your favorite pieces with friends, family and clients. Save
September 2018 Inspired Magazine: Featuring Jaye McLaughlin!
Our September issue of Inspired features Jaye McLaughlin of The Life in Your Years Photography! Read her exclusive interview, download your free motivational desktop wallpaper, access helpful resources and learn how to manage your time better in the busy season. Print your copy of Inspired straight from MagCloud! Share your favorite pieces with friends, family […]
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