The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Aperture, Bokeh and Pretty Pictures

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.


Anonymous said...

SO cool, Kim. I especially love the chives and the broom.

Your post makes me want to play with my camera's settings, or read the manual, or possibly a little bit of both. :)

Fay's Too said...

That was much more interesting and informative than reading the "how to use your camera" booklet. Thanks. And the shots are amazing!

Jasmine said...

Ooh I really like the first two! Very pretty. I want to play! :)

Eryl Shields said...

You have me itching for a manual camera, my little point and shoot has some manual overrides but they're a pain to access: by the time I've gone into the menu and scrolled down, etc. etc., the bee has flown off.

Love the top photo it looks like the broom bloom is suspended in comb-honey.

Nice to see you finally getting time to play.

mapstew said...

Yeah, I just skipped to the wonderful pics! :¬)

Pat said...

Now you've gone and made my next garden photos look banal. I've given up apertures for Lent.
Brilliant though:)

Kim Ayres said...

~:C:~ - read only enough of the manual to help you get started, then play, play, play - it's always the best way to learn :)

Fay - I'm glad you were able to follow it - it's very difficult to know at what level to pitch it at

Jasmine - be sure to let me know if you post any images after you've played :)

Eryl - the trick is to set the camera up first, then go out and take photos of different things to see how they look with that set-up. And I think the broom is my favourite one :)

Mapstew - it's always a good thing when a person knows their own mind :)

Pat - there is nothing banal about your photos, Pat. Let's face it, you can tell nothing about what our garden actually looks like from mine

hope said...

This reminds me of a fellow college student explaining F stops to me like this: it's opposites: bigger number, smaller opening.

I remembered that more than the fact he liked me and I was clueless. :)

Beautiful work sir!

Roschelle said...

All very pretty! Makes me want to get out in the yard and dabble in my flower beds O_O .....on second!

Ponita in Real Life said...

Oh Kim! Those are gorgeous photos!!! I have both a manual film camera (that has been languishing in a cupboard for a while - Canon Rebel EOS) and a digital that has a number of features I have yet to explore. Thanks for explaining all that... now I need to go play. :-)

Carole said...

Wow, awesome pictures.

Jayne Martin said...

I'm so intimidated. I'm a point-and-shoot kinda gal and I rejoice when I even get that right. Lovely photos, my friend.

Jasmine said...

I can't play like you. My widest setting is only f/2.8.
I did play around and take some photos while I was out fishing today. I'll probably post them up on soon.

Fat Lazy Guy said...

I love fiddling with apertures. From the shots I've seen, it seems you've done a lot of foreground in-focus, background out-of-focus. Have you tried the reverse too? Say keeping the subject in focus still, but switching it so there's something in the foreground that's out-of-focus. Kind of thing? I don't know :D Just something to think about.

Awesome stuff.

Pat said...

I had to come back for another look. Exquisite is the word that leaps to mind.
I will publish mine tomorrow willy nilly - as you say it is a record of what's happening in the garden.
Have you thought of a calendar?

Chrissie B said...

Thank you, Kim, these pictures are gorgeous. And so evocative of home (especially the broom) that this Scot in exile feels quite wistful!

emma said...

Can I choose a favourite? The dandelion the dandelion!!! (saw it on RB).
I had actually learnt about about this some time ago but of course, completely forgotten now so this is a helpful reminder.

Anez said...

NICE!! funny I was just reading about Apertures de other day ..

V said...

Glad you're having fun with your new toy and that you're recovering after the exhibtion et al. The Broom is fantastic. I always wondered what that stuff was called!

Hindsfeet said...

thanks for the pretty flowers, Kim... : )

Scarlet Blue said...

Hello - popping over from Pat's - and I'm liking your poppy too.

Ruth said...

they're all so pretty Kim... that first one has the prettiest bokeh I've ever seen. I want the broom and the buttercup especially.. ;D

Kim Ayres said...

Hope - thank you - and your memory does you proud :)

Roschelle - go ahead and dabble!

Pointa - let me know if you post anything that comes from your playing :)

Carole - thank you :)

Jayne - don't be intimidated, be inspired :)

Jasmine - you can still get some great effects at f/2.8. What camera do you use?

FLG - you can do that, but mostly the reaction from people tends to be, "what's that blurry thing in the foreground?"

Pat - Thank you for your kind words :) I guess a calendar isn't out of the question - with print-on-demand services, like the "Staring Back" book, I ought to be able to create something people could buy online if they wanted. Hmmm... stuff to think about... :)

Chrissie - thank you for your warm words :)

Emma - The dandilion was done using a different camera and a different style of photography, so didn't fit into this set. But I might do a post on macro photography another time :)

Anez - we're surrounded with education wherever we look :)

V - I'm enjoying the new toy more and more and more :)

Hindsfeet - thank you :)

Scarlet - welcome to my ramblings and thank you for your kind words :)

Ruth - good to see you back! What's the story with your blog, or lack of it?

Charlie said...

I'm with Map. Even point and shoot baffles me. My talent lies somewhere else, the whereabout of which are unknown.

I DO know the photos are beautiful, especially the first one.

Gillian said...

I like the fact that I actually learned something from this post. I've always wanted to create these affects in my photos but never known how to use my camera on anything other than auto.

I may acutally take a try and this (it would be really great to get some more pointers from you).

Great post, Kim!!!

Kim Ayres said...

Charlie - thank you :) The first one is my favourite too

Gillian - let me know if you post any results. What else do you want to know?

Anonymous said...

I recently bought the 'nifty fifty' (Oh for a 7D too!!) and I agree with you that it is a great lens. I had quite some interest in it when we had an outdoor portrait night at camera club last week.

Lovely images.

Mimi and Tilly said...

Goooorgeeeeous. There are no other words.

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