Aperture is an important part of photography, as practiced by the masters such as Adams, Weston, and Rowell. It is a subject that I know only a little about but
am interested in learning more, and I will make an attempt here to explain it to you, if you are not interested, just scroll down to the photographs.
In a nutshell, camera aperture is like the black part of your eye that gets larger
when you are in a low light situation, to let more light in, and smaller in bright light, to keep it from blinding you. The exception being those drugged out of their minds of course.
How can using aperture in your photography help you? If you are just interested in the run of the mill photos, probably not much. But if you would
like to shoot like the pro’s, a lot.
Have you ever leafed through a travel magazine, like Arizona Highways, and
viewed a tack sharp photo from the item of interest like a blooming cactus in the foreground, to the mountains in the distance? Or a field of wildflowers with
the same result? That was made by using aperture, and setting that in such a way that the field of focus was infinity, from the minimum focusing distance to infinity. Most modern digital and film 35 slr cameras will do this for you in auto or landscape mode, but you can also do it yourself in aperture mode. By setting it to f/16 for example.
Perhaps you have come across portraits or flower photos with part of the face or flower in sharp focus and the rest of the photo blurred. Wouldn’t you like to do this to add a little pop to your photo’s? You can, by going with a wide open aperture such as f/2 or f/1.8 on normal(set focal length lens) or f/2.8 and up on your zoom lenses.
Notice how the spider web is in focus and the blurred background. This was accomplished by setting my Nikon D70 with the 50mm lens on aperture priority mode and at f/2.2 which put the web within the plane of focus.
The flower photo above was taken at wide open aperture, f/1.8, with the plane of focus being the front flower and the branch also being within that plane. Note the pleasing blurring in the background, which is an example of what is called good bokeh,
Japanese for blurring.
Same thing above, f/1.8, with the focus point being to the left of the flower.
This little dragonfly was very patient, allowing me to take 4 photos of him. This is not a macro lens so if you
want to zoom in, your legs have to do the zooming. To my eye, the bokeh is pleasing except for the bright circle above
the right flower bud. Wide open aperture setting of f/1.8.
Aperture here was f/2, almost wide open. I made the focus point the area by where his beak begins, notice how the
beak and eye are in focus, but his webbed feet and haunch which are nearer to me are blurry, this illustrates how shallow
the depth of field is for this new lens of mine.
Another example of intended results. Notice the focus point and its’ distance from me. The head is not in focus, because
the body- the blue feather area- was the focus point and f/2 the depth of focus is extremely shallow. This photo was taken this way to illustrate the point that I am making about using aperture. You will get the results that you want and sometimes magic
happens and you might get a little extra.
The above shot which I am really pleased with was taken with the aperture set wide open at f/1.8, of course. Again note
the pleasing background bokeh and the sharpness of the ducks’ head which was the focus point.
The above was a quick shot as I spotted him and fired. So it may be a little bit off. The aperture was set for f/8 to give
a long depth of focus across the lake. By the way, the crane took off with an angry couple of squawks as soon as he
heard my camera’s mirror slap.
See where he landed? That was my focus point here. Notice that by using f/8, the branches and leaves in the foreground blurred for a couple of feet out from the camera lens.
Above f/2.2, see how the leaves stand out from the background?
One thing about aperture that threw me for a long time is that larger means
smaller numbers, and smaller means bigger numbers. If the pupil is dilated
and wide open, to use an eye analogy, the aperture say on this lens is f/1.8.
If the pupil is small, it is f/16 or somewhere in between.
My suggestion is for those with interest, to take out your digital or old film cameras and experiment. Because that is exactly what I did today at the nature preserve, experimented. But I had a good feeling that there might be a couple of keepers today.
Hopefully I didn’t bore you folks too badly today with this post.
I hope to see you again soon out on the backporch.
Bill McDonald aka Morongobill