Friday, December 12, 2008

Foto Friday #4- Shoot Wide Open


Foto Friday here again. This week- let's get technical, technical.
Today, we are talking all about Aperture and how it can give you a distinctive style to your photographs, particularly of people.
I have had many people ask me how I get my photographs to look so sharp and crisp. My secret- shooting wide open. I have already blogged about some of my favorite choices in lenses. The reason I love these lenses is that they allow me to go so far down the aperture scale. Aperture is the size of the opening in the lens that lets light onto the sensor of the camera or the film. When you adjust the size of the opening, you also adjust the depth of field, or how broad the area of your picture will be in focus.
So when I say "shoot wide open," I mean that I am going to the lowest aperture number that my lens allows (2.0 or 1.4, there are lenses out there that allow 1.2) and using that setting to take the photographs. This allows me to to really accentuate and draw the viewer in to one aspect of the picture. With people, I almost always focus on the eyes. When I e-mailed a photographer friend of mine before I did my first ever engagement session, I asked him if he had any tips. He said, "focus on the eyes" and it couldn't have been more true. What focusing on the eyes does is really draw the viewer into the photograph to where the eyes are sharp (or if you are standing a bit further away- the face) and the rest of the photograph is smooth and creamy.
There are other factors in determining depth of field (such as as how far away you are from your subject and how far the background is from them), but for this week, try going as low as your lens allows on the aperture.
Is there a drawback to shooting wide open? Yes. When you shoot wide open, it makes the area of your frame that is in focus very very small. If you are not careful, it is easy to think that you are getting sharp, in-focus pictures only to get them on your computer and realize that your subjects eyebrows are very much in focus. Be veeeery careful and select a focus point that you can put directly on their eyes to ensure that they are in focus.
However, I view the results as worth the risk. Going low on the aperture will take your photographs from being on the same level as the rest of today's photographic mileau to being photographs that stand out. Until next friday, stay classy and fun. B

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