I have not been feeling the cooking love lately...at all, but I have a house full of company coming later this week, so my kitchen and I will be getting reacquainted very soon.
But enough about me, let's talk about you. Have you had your camera out?
Have you been shooting in manual mode?
Many, many different factors come into play when taking pictures in manual mode, and today we're going to talk about two of the biggies. At least they're biggies in my book.
Aperture and shutter speed.
Instead of fumbling my way through an explanation of the two, I am going to pass the buck in a very big way. The Pioneer Woman does an amazing job explaining both aperture and shutter speed in the photography section of her world famous blog, and I could not possibly say it any better than she already has. She's titled the four part series, "What the Heck is an Aperture", and it is well worth your time to pop on over and read all four parts.
Go ahead, I'll wait right here.
Okay, you're back? Good.
Did you also read "What the Heck is an Aperture, Part Two?" Because you really should. And Part Three? How about Part Four?
Just making sure.
Do you totally understand aperture and shutter speed now? Yes? Awesome!
If not, you're in very good company. Bookmark those posts and read them again. Then play with your camera and come back and read them again.
I took these pictures with my 50mm f1.4 lens, and hopefully they will demonstrate how aperture and shutter speed work together.
I started with my aperture wide open....f1.4. That gives us a very shallow depth of field - you can see that only the flower and a narrow stripe on the table are in focus, and it's hard to tell just what the rest of the objects in the photo even are. That wide aperture also lets in a lot of light, so we need to have a very fast shutter speed or we'll end up with an overexposed photo.
Now I'm going to start closing down my aperture, (remember that the bigger the number gets, the smaller the opening - 2.2 is a smaller opening than 1.4. I know, it seems backward), which will let in less light than before, so to make up for the smaller aperture opening, I'm going to slow down my shutter speed, which will let in more light.
At an aperture of 2.2, everything but the flower is still pretty blurry.
At 4.5 things are starting to come into focus.
The aperture keeps getting smaller, and at this point my shutter speed is getting very slow in order to let in enough light. I used my tripod for all of these shots, but if I was hand holding my camera, things would be getting pretty blurry by now.
Now my aperture is as small as it can go.
Side by side, the range is pretty impressive.
Now, if that doesn't leave you with more questions than answers, I don't know what will!
I encourage you to do this exercise yourself. I am a hands on learner. I can read something over and over, but it doesn't usually click until I put it into practice for myself. This will help you see how aperture and shutter speed work together. Start with the widest aperture your lens is capable of (different lenses have different aperture ranges), and take it from there. Keep in mind that your shutter speeds will vary from mine depending on your lighting conditions.
I'll leave you with a couple quick tips.
Experiment to find the slowest shutter speed you are comfortable using while hand holding your camera.....and don't go below it. Many, many times in my early days I would get caught up in shooting and forget to keep an eye on my shutter speed. You may not see the blur on your camera screen, but you will see it when you load your photos on your computer. It doesn't matter if you've got the best composition or you've captured the most precious moment, if your picture is blurry, you will be sad.
Moving subjects need a faster shutter speed than stationary subjects. ( I know that seems like a given....but it wasn't for me.)
Many of you have asked how to achieve a dreamy, blurry look to your photos. As these pictures show, it's the wider apertures that give you the pretty background (and foreground) blur. (Also known as bokeh.) Experiment with your f-stops (aperture) to see just how much blur you like for your own shots.
Remember.....practice and read.
Get out your fake spring flowers and make them model for you.
Google and read and practice.
Borrow your neighbor's children and make them model for you.
Read, practice, read, practice.
Rinse and repeat - and have yourself a little bit of fun while you're at it!