Are you overwhelmed by all the dials and buttons that came with your first DSLR? Do the terms Aperture, ISO, Shutter Speed, Rear Curtain Flash, or Slow-Sync Flash sound alien to you?
Don't worry I was there too! The AUTO mode was the only mode I used. But with time and experimentation you will also get the hang of it and you will be venturing into the other modes eventually. Perhaps you will even start teaching someone else how to be good at photography. Let's take a closer look at the Aperture mode. Your photography will drastically improve after understanding what aperture does.
Just like our eyes a camera has a pupil that could be widened or narrowed to allow more or less light respectively through the lens. This opening is called the aperture and is expressed in fractional numbers starting with the letter "f." Any basic DSLR camera has an aperture range of f/3.5 to f/5.6.
Here is a terminology you need to be familiar with: depth of field. As the term suggests, you can create depth, or shallowness. This brings life to your photo and allows the subject to appear to be separated from the background by adding the softening effect. You control the aperture you control the depth of field. So now you know why a photo could have a sharp primary subject while the background is blurred. Aperture!
When To Use Aperture Mode
To have the effect mentioned above you need to keep the aperture as widely open as possible. This is mostly the chosen setting for portrait photography when you want the face or body of the person to be in full focus while blurring out everything behind. This effect is also coined as boke or bokeh.
Now, let's say we want the entire composition in focus; foreground and background. This is the desired result for landscape photography. We want the primary subject (a tree for example) and the background (like the mountains which are miles away) to be both in focus. In this case, you need to make the aperture size as small as possible.
The confusing thing about aperture though is how it is measured; it's in reverse. I won't get into the science of it but just remember the higher the f-number the smaller the aperture and the lower the f-number the wider the aperture. In addition, depth of field increases with f-number.
Don't worry I will take you step by step.
To achieve the Boke effect for portraits:
Rotate the mode dial to A.
Rotate the command dial until you reach the smallest f-number achievable by your lens. This widens the aperture to the maximum.
Select your primary subject (the face of a person) and place the focus point on the area.
Press the shutter-release button halfway to initiate focus. You will begin to see the background blurring.
Once focus is complete continue pressing the release button and click the shot!
To achieve landscape effect:
Rotate the mode dial to A.
Rotate the command dial until you reach the highest f-number. This narrows down the aperture to the minimum.
Press the shutter-release button halfway to initiate focus.
Continue pressing the release button and click the shot!
Note: A fast camera has a lens with the ability to reach a very low f-number thus can have a very wide aperture and can create an extremely reduced depth of field thus increasing the softening effect.
I will be posting another tip on how to be good at photography by using another equally important mode.