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Taking a more professional photograph

In my opinion most people are capable of taking a good photograph.  Although taking a great photograph requires a litt

le more skill and finesse.  This though is not out of our reach.  I love photography and practice whenever I am able; but alas I am still waiting for my great photo – but what do they say practice makes perfect.

We all admire that great photo, and there is that sense of being taken to the moment that comes from that truly great and inspirational photo.  I am a huge fan of the National Geographic websiteand the photographs on their site.  A site like this is a great launching off point for ideas and how to use certain techniques.

What I really wanted to discuss today is the humble or maybe not so humble digital SLR or DSLR cameras, which many of us now own.   If only I had a dollar for every time that someone said to me, oh I don’t really know how this camera works, I just shoot in auto and download the photos.  It seems a waste that people aren’t using some of the cameras features, which can improve their image.

Let’s look at the modes on the dial of your DSLR.  You will notice that you have an A or an Av on your dial.  This is an aperture priority mode.  Aperture is diameter of the lens opening.  The larger the diameter of the aperture, the more light that reaches the image sensor (film). Aperture is expressed as F-stop, e.g. F2.8 or f/2.8 you will notice that this is displayed either on the top screen on your camera and/or when you look through the view finder it is at the bottom of the image. The smaller the F-stop number (or f/value), then the larger the lens opening (aperture) and vice versa.  So what does changing this do for you – well it controls the depth of field and will determine how much of the scene appears sharp.  For example if you take a landscape with a small aperture you will have as much of the scenery as possible appearing sharp.  While in a portrait you may want a larger aperture so you can background behind the person is thrown out of focus.

Flower with a large aperture used - background is out of focus

Why not practice this on some objects so you can look at the difference.  When you look at your photos later, the camera will record all the specs, including the aperture, note the f-stop so you can get a feel for what a difference depth of field can make.

So why don’t you pull out your DSLR that has only been used in auto, and have a go with the aperture setting.  You will be surprised how easy it is and what an improvement it can make to your photos.

Happy snapping

Claire

Scene shot with a small aperture - as in a landscape, everything is as sharp as possible

Scene shot with a small aperture - as in a landscape, everything is as sharp as possible

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