For those of you who have cameras that allow you to go beyond the standard point and shoot settings, “Aperture Priority” is a wonderful area to play in.
For those of you who are freaked out by the idea of technical stuff, even with explanations, just skip to the pictures below.
For those of you still reading, the aperture is basically how wide the shutter in front of the lens will go and thus, how much light will enter the camera at the point you click the button. Think of it like the pupil in your eye. When it’s darker (or if you fancy someone – see Windows of the Soul), the pupil gets bigger, and in strong light, it gets smaller.
However, when you have a wide aperture on your camera the trade off is the depth of field (sometimes known as the depth of focus or DOF for short) is much narrower.
What this means is the amount of area in focus is much less.
Supposing, for example, you wanted to take a group photo where people were in rows. You would want the people in the front to be in focus AND the people at the back too. So for this you need a bigger depth of field – and for that you need a smaller aperture.
Are you keeping up?
Along with my new camera (see It's here, it's big and it's just a bit intimidating...), I bought a EF 50 mm f/1.8 II Lens, which allows me a maximum aperture setting of f/1.8, which is wider than most lenses. And what this means is, I can get a very narrow DOF indeed.
Basically, the upshot of this is I’ve been able to get some quite beautiful effects taking photos of flowers in the garden where only part of the flower is in focus and the further you move from that point, the increasingly blurred everything becomes, creating something rather wonderful.
Click on any of them for larger versions
Cytisus scoparius (Andreanus) - Broom
And for anyone who's interested, in photography there is a word, "Bokeh" (pronounced Bo as in bone and Ke as in Kenneth), which is used to describe the blurry out of focus area deliberately used to create a specific effect in the photo.