Maryland Professional Photography Instruction

Photography Basics 101

As we all know these are unsettling times for all of us. We are all feeling the strain that the Covid-19 virus is putting on families, businesses, health care system, and everyone’s bank accounts. We are all in this together.

Since the majority of our operations, bookings and photoshoots are currently on hold, why not do something I love to do…..Teach. This week we will be having a mini series on how to take better photos, and some projects that you can get the whole family involved in.

Aperture mode on your DSLR Part 1

One of the most important things to help you create better photos is taking your camera off of Auto mode.

All DSLR cameras have a mode dial. It is located on either the top right, or top left on the camera body, depending on make and model. The dial has lettering such as A, AV, S, TV, Auto, P, M, C1,C2, and maybe flower or a stick figure that looks like someone running. For this article we are only going to concern ourselves with the “A” or “AV” mode.

By taking your camera off of Auto, you will have much more control over the image, it’s composition and final render. When first getting my students off of auto mode, the first one we start with is “A”, for Aperture, or “AV” , for Aperture Value. The aperture of a lens, consists of a number of blades that open and close, depending on the setting.

Aperture. Quite simply the aperture controls the amount of light entering the camera and image sensor. A wide aperture lets in a lot of light, while a narrow aperture lets in a small amount. The aperture also controls the depth of field, or how much of your photo is in focus. We use F Stops to determine this. A low F Stop such as 2.8 lets in a lot of light and will have a shallow depth of field. A high F Stop such as F 22 will let in much less light, but much more of your image will be in focus.

So how is this useful? Well for instance when taking a portrait or photo of a person. We want a wider aperture such as a 4.0, 5.6. 6.3, or 8. By doing this and focusing on your subject, they will be in focus, and the background will be out of focus, creating a shallow depth of field. This

helps to separate your subject from the background, and creates a much more flattering image. In a portrait, if your subject and background are both in focus, it is distracting, because your eye does not know where to go. You can also create a shallower depth of field by increasing the distance between your subject and the background, as well as zooming in.

OK, now when would a narrow aperture such as 16, 22, or 32, be useful? Remember we said above that setting a wider aperture creates a wider depth of field.

Have you ever seen a photo of a landscape, and everything is in focus? This is done by using a higher F-Stop, such as 16,22, or 32. When using these stops, you may need to use a tripod, as these settings let in less light and will slow down the shutter speed.

By using “A” or “AV” mode, you control the Aperture, and the camera controls the Shutter speed.

More on this relationship in our next article. Happy shooting!