Good morning! If you are here for the first time, welcome to our mini series about photography. If you missed the first week, you can find it here. Please know we are not a photography blog. I am offering this short series in hopes of teaching others like myself who want to get great pictures of everyday life.
Photography Mini Series Part 1: Six Benefits of Learning to Shoot in Manual ModePhotography Mini Series Part 3: How to Set your ISO
Photography Mini Series Part 4: Shutter Speed and Metering, How to Take Bright Pictures
Photography Mini Series Part 5: What is the Best Lighting for my Pictures?
Photography Mini Series Part 6: The Benefits of Shooting in RAW
Photography Mini Series Part 7: Where to Focus when Taking Pictures
Photography Mini Series Part 8: How to take your own Family Pictures for your Christmas Card
What do I mean by people like myself? I want good pictures of my kids and family, good pictures for my blog, and candid pictures of life. I do not want to start a photography business nor hire myself out for family pictures.
This mini series is meant for amateurs like myself who just want to capture life’s moments.
If you are among the thousands who own a DSLR, but you don’t know how to shoot in manual mode, I highly encourage you to try to learn. Learning aperture is a great place to start.
The camera I use is a Canon EOS Rebel T3. While this is a great starter camera, I would not recommend this camera if your goal is to learn to fluently shoot in manual mode. I use a fixed (or prime) 50 mm lens for almost all my pictures. I highly highly recommend this lens. CONSIDERING THE PRICE, it is an excellent lens, in my amateur opinion.
If you know how to set your aperture correctly, you can begin taking amazing shots with those blurry backgrounds.
What is Aperture?
Aperture refers to a small hole in the camera that varies how much light is allowed to enter the camera. When you set your aperture, you are varying the light.
Your aperture setting determines how blurry of a background you get in your pictures. The smaller the number, the more blurry the background.
I think of aperture in layers.
If I set my aperture at 1.0, I will have one layer in front of me in focus. The rest of the objects behind that layer will be blurry.
If I set my aperture at 2.0, I will have two layers in front of me in focus. The rest of the objects behind those layers will be blurry.
If I set my aperture at 3.0, I will have three layers in front of my in focus. The rest of the objects behind those layers will be blurry.
So on and so forth.
Also, the closer you are to an object, the more blurry the background, and you must be very precise with your focal point when you have your aperture set at a low number.
In each of the pictures below, my camera is as close to the yellow tea cup as I could get and still have the camera automatically focus for me. My aperture is set to the lowest number (1.8). This will achieve the blurriest background. It is also a good example of why you must be precise with your focusing when you use a low aperture number. You can see the flowers on the yellow tea cup are in focus, but the red handle of the tea cup is not in focus.
As you scroll through these images, watch the number after the word ‘Aperture’ in the captions. Observe what happens behind the tea cup as the numbers grow larger.
Don’t worry about the shutter speed and ISO numbers for now. While they are very important pieces to the photography puzzle, we are specifically looking at aperture today.
As I continue to change my aperture, the red tea cup with the blue handle is slowly coming into focus.
Not only can you see the yellow tea cup, you can now see the red tea cup, the two other tea cups in line, the kitchen chair, the blue bunting, and the white shelf.
This was a great exercise for examining aperture when your camera is very close to your subject. When I stand four or five feet away from the yellow tea cup, the results are very different.
I won’t take as many as above, but see the difference when you are much further from the subject.
To finish off this article, I want to show you how to change the aperture on a fixed lens. When you have a zoom lens, the aperture changes as you zoom in and zoom out. On a fixed lens (also known as a prime lens), you don’t have the luxury of a zoom. Your feet, essentially, get you closer or further away from your subject.
How do you change the aperture on a fixed lens with the Canon T3 DSLR camera?
On the face of your camera, find the trash or Av button. (Av stands for aperture value.) Hold that button down.
While you are holding down the Av button, turn the dial (seen in the below image) on the top of your camera. You will be able to see the aperture numbers changing on the display screen or on your meter reading.
If you, like me, sometimes have trouble with blurry images on your camera, know that some DSLR cameras are not built to handle such a wide open aperture (such as a 1.8.) While, as you can see, I can take some decent shots with a great blurry background, I often end up with blurry images when shooting with my camera set to a 1.8. I’ll address in a future post what camera I recommend if you have a goal of fluently shooting in manual mode.
What questions do you have? Or what can you teach me? Do you have any tips about using Aperture on your DSLR? Come back next Wednesday for the next installment in our mini photography series!