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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

{photography with lei} getting out of auto mode!

So here we are taking the big plunge into switching that dial from auto mode to manual.  Are you excited?!!!!!  I can hear you squealing!!!

We've talked about lighting.  That's the first step in understanding exposure.  The mechanism in your camera that measures light is called aperture, and the process that occurs as light hits your lens your lens is that it passes through the shutter, arriving at a sensor (or film if you're old school!).  The camera's lens and shutter control the amount of light that hits that sensor, and that is why we set an aperture and a shutter speed.

Aperture is referred to in f/stops.  A large opening signifies more light, while a small opening signifies less.  The confusion usually lies in the fact, however, that a large opening is represented by a smaller number than a small opening.  This has to do with an equation between the length of your lens and the diameter of the aperture... but that's certainly not something I'm about to try and explain.  You're all relieved, I'm sure.  I stink at math.

 {in case you are a visual person}

Basically if we want more light (i.e., with indoor pictures) we're going to set a larger aperture, such as adjusting from f/8 to f/2.8.  A short lens can have a maximum f/stop of f/1.4, and stop down to an f/stop somewhere between f/22 and f/32.  What's happening when you "stop down" (i.e., going from f/1.4 to f/2.8) is that half as much light is entering the lens.... 1.4 is half of 2.8.  See I can do *some* math. ;)

One cool aspect about aperture that has everyone in blogland talking is "bokeh".  Bokeh refers to the effect of having your primary subject crisply in focus while the background fades away.  "Ooooh, Aaaah" is the response that usually gets.  Want to see an example? 


The aperture setting for this image was f/1.8.  Now you may have looked at the lens that came with your camera by now and wondered why you couldn't get it to open beyond f/4.  Lenses that open up as high as 1.4, 1.2 even are an investment.  The lens that came with your camera?  The "kit" lens?  Crap.  Sorry to tell you.  You can't get bokeh on that thing.  Luckily a 50mm f/1.8 lens is reasonably priced at around $135.  I highly suggest you get one.  It's a lovely thing to have and play with.  Lenses that go up to 1.4 or 1.2 are much more expensive, but 1.8 is good enough in my opinion.

Now, aperture is not all we have to worry about in setting a proper exposure.  There are 2 other key elements to consider, and they are shutter speed and ISO.  But I think we'll discuss those next time.  For now, if you want to play around with your aperture, you are in luck... you don't need to understand shutter speed and ISO right away.  If you are shooting on a Nikon, set your dial to "A", or aperture mode.  If you're shooting on a Canon, set your dial to "AV", also aperture mode.  This will allow YOU to become familiar with aperture all on its own.  Your camera will set the shutter and ISO for you accordingly.  Pretty cool, huh?

If you want to get a head start on everyone and learn more before our next discussion, I highly recommend the book "Understanding Exposure", by Bryan Peterson.

Until next time!!!  Don't forget to stop by and see what I've been up to on my photography blog and facebook page!  I'd love it if you said "hi"!!!



Blogger The Duckworth Family said...

oh wow...getting into the stuff that really makes me nervous! I have been shooting on auto because I haven't been willing to take the time to learn otherwise and I'm good enough at editing ot make up for what my camera can't do...but maybe this is the push I have been needing to expand my knowledge. I'll let ya know how it goes!

June 13, 2011 at 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

August 31, 2012 at 2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if your camera can only go to a f/4. What should the shutter speed be at so I don't get the shake movement and I have enough light? I shoot in manual and its scary because if Im at a 125 Its great but my f stop is a 4 and its still too dark if i dont have my flash and I heard having a flash in daylight on a baby isnt good. Help.

August 31, 2012 at 2:20 PM  

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