Monday, June 27, 2016

Basic Photography: Aperture Mode

Aperture mode is exactly what the doctor calls for in portrait photography. The reason is that one can get excellent bokeh with a wide aperture setting on a prime lens. This brings all the focus to the subject. If you are doing manual focus, you can make sure that the eyes are in sharp focus with other parts of the portrait being softer focus moving back to a smooth, delicious bokeh. Set your camera on A priority and make sure that the lens is set to its fastest setting. For example, if it is a f/2.8 set it there, if a f/2 set it there, and if it is a f/1.8 or f/1.4 set it there. You will end up with a professional looking photo that will make you proud.

Above is a photo that was taken with my Sigma 60mm f/2.8 lens. It was on aperture priority setting the camera used a 1/3200 sec exposure with an ISO of 200. If you click on the image it will be enlarged so you can see the way it focuses sharply on the subject, grandma and grandson and blurs the background so that you are not distracted.

Using aperture priority mode when there is a lot of ambient light available works very well. That is the circumstance of the above portrait. With aperture priority mode, the closer you are to the subject and the farther back the background, the more blurred the background and the more bokeh that is present. Below is an example of being close to the subject with a completely blurred background.

This image again was shot with my Sigma 60mm f/2.8 lens wide open.

Now then, if you move away from the closest subjects/objects with a fast lens wide open, you can get all of the background in fairly sharp focus. I use prime lenses wide open in night street photography and have a great amount of success with the results. My Sony A3000 has a native ISO up to 6400 and I find that the results are pretty acceptable all the way to ISO 3200. It is very good at ISO 1600. I have done a lot of hand-held street photography at night and my results are quite acceptable with very little noise.

Both of the above images were shot at night, hand-held with the aperture wide open. This type of photography will become easier to do with much better results as camera sensors continue to improve. Sony has a full frame mirrorless, an A7RII, that has a native ISO that goes over 100,000. It will make unbelievable hand-held low light photos without any noise.

As you can see, aperture priority has a variety of uses that enhance you ability to make photos that you are proud to showcase. I will leave you with additional examples of images shot in aperture priority. Click on all photos to see them enlarged in a slide show format that will allow you to click through them. Also, feel free to comment in the comment section.

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