Photography enthusiasts and those interested enough in photography understand that aperture is one of the most integral parts of the craft. Aside from other things such as shutter speed and lighting, aperture is perhaps one of the Holy Grails of the trade.
If you know your camera well, aperture is easy enough to achieve with a camera. However, if you’re using one of the more sophisticated digital cameras in the market, then you may find yourself in a pinch. Here are some tips for you.
The Basics Matter
If you want to be a good photographer, or improve your photography skills, understanding the basics is perhaps the most important thing anyone should do.
In this case, it’s important to remember that even though a camera can only use its lens to see and focus at a single point, there are still areas in front and behind this “area” that stretches and appears sharp.
This area is called the depth of field. Always remember that:
- It does not have a fixed distance, as it really depends on the area you’re shooting at.
- A depth of field is either “shallow” or “deep,” where the former describes only a narrow area of sharpness, and the latter describing a wider area of sharpness.
Knowing about depth of field is important because it’s one of the many bases that artists and photographers use to consider the “aesthetics” of a painting.
Of course, using the depth of field to your advantage is up to you. After all, there are times where depth of field can look artistic and look not artistic.
- For instance, it’s preferable to utilize depth of field to get detail from the foreground to the horizon.
- Sometimes, blurring backgrounds and foregrounds allow you to focus on certain areas, taking advantage of the blurry areas in the depth of field.
In Digital Cameras
It’s a bit hard to pinpoint where control for depth of focus stays on your camera. However, it’s almost always near where the lens mount is.
- Interestingly, some cameras allow you to assign a button specifically for depth of field preview.
- However, this doesn’t really affect depth of field at all. It just allows you to view your picture with your aperture. This only means you can see the areas that will be sharp or not.
Controlling Depth of Field
Now there are a variety of ways to control the way you want your depth of field to appear. The most common rule is that: the wider the aperture, and the closer you are to your focus, the shallow the field. Other factors include:
- The focus distance
- The type of camera
- The choice of aperture
The Type of Camera
It’s not that some cameras are better than others, but the imaging sensor inside matters because it makes all the difference. The bigger the sensor you have, the depth of field will be shallower.
- Unless you have a smaller sensor, you have to readjust manually get the same amount of detail.
- This means either getting closer to your subject, or getting longer focal length.
This is also why cameras will full frame produce very shallow depths of field than, say, a compact system camera, or an APS C DSLR or a similar system.
The Aperture, Exposure Triangle
The aperture affects the way light enters the lens and how the rest of the camera interacts with it. Apertures rely on the f stop numbers in your camera. The bigger the number, the smaller the aperture (f/2.8 is big and wide, while f/22 is small)
So, really, the distance where you want to focus is heavily affected because consequently, wide apertures offer more space for your depth of field with a subject that is far away versus if they’re close.
Of course, changing the distance is tedious and extremely inconvenient. This is why changing apertures can help best.
- A quick tip is to remember that smaller apertures can lead to blurred photographs.
- A quick solution to the above problem is to balance the aperture with shutter speed and ISO to get a decent exposure.
In the most basic sense, you may have to get a general idea of how the Exposure Triangle works so you will be able to adapt to situations. Basically, it works like this:
- Larger apertures let in more light, and small apertures let in less light.
- Faster shutter speeds can be used to freeze movement, and slow shutter speed increase subject movement for blurring.
- ISO adjusts the intensity of the light that is entering the lens.
- To get better depth of field, you have to adjust the ISO properly with smaller apertures but with faster shutter speeds.
Do Longer Lenses Matter
It does seem to be the case. The focal length of whatever lens you choose have impact to the depth of field, as long lenses produce much blur.
- For instance, a 200mm lens at 12ft will have a thinner depth of field versus a 20mm lens at the same length.
Of course, if the subject is in the right proportion of the frame, then your depth of field is the same. This is something you have to remember. You just have to adjust move closer if your lens are wider, move farther if you’re using telephoto lens.
- Longer lenses create shallower depths of field because of their narrow angle.
- Telephoto lens will be able to fill the frame with small background areas, so blurs feel magnified as well.
- For instance, animal portraits are best shot when the background is beyond depths of field, and so are blurred.
The best solution here are longer focal lengths, and to get wider aperture settings.
Aperture is fairly easy to study with digital photography given enough time and experience. The key is to constantly expose yourself to a wide variety of shots, angles, and subjects in order to fully understand (perhaps to the point where it’s ordinarily muscle control for you) how aperture works.