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Wide apertures #photography

1 post with exif

Last week I looked at wide apertures for portraits, that can get your subject in sharp focus, but the background out of focus. This photo isn’t one of my best ones, it’s just the concrete post in the garden that holds the washing line. You can see easily that it’s in focus while the background is blurred.

wide aperture

The 18-105mm lens I was using goes as wide as f/3.5, but when I zoom in that changes to f/5.6 which was used for this picture. Note the shutter speed, it’s really fast at 1/640 of a second.

1 car with exif

This photo of my neighbour’s car was with the same aperture, but I zoomed in from about 30 yards away. It was sunny and so lots of light and on aperture priority the camera set the shutter speed at 1/400 of a second. That is really fast. Notice that the background is blurred, but not as blurred as when I was close to my subject. So how useful is a wide aperture that allows in lots of light? It is great for sport, set the aperture wide and zoom in on your favourite footballer and the fast shutter speed will freeze the action! There are a lot of other uses. If I set my Nikon on sport, it does the same thing and that’s useful for a lot of shots. It’s useful for candid shots of people, moving cars and lots of sports shots.

1 landscape at F 22

It was freezing yesterday, so I donned my thermals and went out for some fresh air. This landscape would please most photographers. I’ve added the exif to the picture. I wanted all of this picture in focus, so used a narrow aperture. You can see the ripples on the water and it’s quite a good image, but a compromise. I tried to focus on a distant tree or bush.

The focusing on my Nikon has two settings MF (manual focus) and AF (auto focus). Switch to aperture priority and I have a choice of 4 settings, auto servo AF, single servo AF, continuous servo AF or manual. For a lots of shots auto servo is OK. Use the single servo for wide aperture shots and the continuous servo for shots where you need the camera to continuously refocus. I use that continuous servo for shots of moving birds and wildlife. There are also four AF area modes on my camera, these are fairly self explanatory. You can use the single point area mode for taking photos of flowers, again with a wide aperture. Cameras are quite smart now at recognising subjects like people, buildings and focusing for you on the subject. For a really sharp picture, learn to help the camera to choose the right settings.

Landscape with wide aperture

Normally for a landscape I use a narrow aperture, for depth of field to get the whole picture in focus. Here I’ve gone for a wide aperture and zoomed in a little because I wanted the pussy willows in focus. The picture didn’t work quite as I hoped. The goose near those pussy willows disappeared or the fast shutter speed would have captured it splashing around. I sometimes photograph the birds flying around with a 300mm lens and a wide aperture. The background is out of focus anyway with the camera moving. Look for the AF-C setting for continuous focusing on your camera for those shots. You need the camera to keep focusing quickly. The sports setting on my camera sets that, as well as a wide aperture for high speed shooting. It also sets the camera for multiple shots, so I can take several shots a second.

1 good narrow app

You can’t mess around setting the camera for a shot like this. My camera was on the sports setting, so I took the shot. Strangely, the camera went for a narrow aperture and increased the ISO to 2000. I would have gone for a wide aperture for a high speed shot. Maybe, it was because I pointed the camera down and there was less light? We can get better shots by deciding the setting ourselves, but that takes lots of practice and experience.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi MIke, This was fascinating. I’m especially interested in the first photo. I wonder how you got the background blurred when it wasn’t even moving!

    It’s the opposite of that photo of the train in the station that was moving but your photo makes it seem as if it’s standing still.

    February 21, 2015 at 03:50

  2. Hi Carolyn,

    The first photo was with a wide aperture. That is often used for portraits to get the face in sharp focus at the expense of the rest of the image. All photos are blurred a little, but we don’t notice! A wide aperture gets the subject more in sharp focus, but the background, behind the subject is more blurred and out of focus. You can make things appear to stand still with a fast shutter speed, that lets in less light and to compensate for that a wide aperture is often used. That’s used in sport a lot to capture the action!

    February 21, 2015 at 11:41

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