Friday, August 15, 2008

Creative Exposures and Depth of Field

Do you wish you could get the image to jump off the screen or print? Do you wish you could understand why some photographers images look so different than yours?

1. Take your camera out of auto or program mode. [They have a purpose but not for creative images.] If you want a ‘creative’ image, auto or program mode will let you down. To create an image that screams creative begin to experiment with manual mode.

When an image is exposed, many combinations of shutter speed and aperture will render an image ‘exposed’ properly. However, normally only one image will scream creative when the shutter ‘clicks’.

Using any lens, place the camera in manual mode. In the viewfinder you will notice your exposure meter. To obtain an exposed image typically the line is in the middle of the meter or on 0. Adjust your shutter or aperture to set a ‘properly’ exposed image. [We will discuss how to use creative exposures in future lessons.]

All of the following combinations of shutter speed and aperture render an ‘exposed’ image via the meter on my D200 with the ISO at 1250 using my 70-300vr @ 70mm. [I am doing this exercise in my basement office with only one overhead light on.] Which exposure is correct? According to technical terms, they all are appear to be ‘correct’ but only one combination will render an expressive or creative exposure. Keep in mind the larger the number on your aperture the greater the depth of field. E.g. The depth of field [or what is in focus] is much larger on f/10 than f/5.6. Therefore, the correct exposure is the exposure that creates the image YOU are attempting to create. If you want a large depth of field [landscape image] where a large portion of your image is in focus, then you would use f/10. However, if you want to create an image where the subject is in focus but the background is ‘blurred out’, then you would ‘open’ up your aperture as much as possible.

Shutter speed: 1/30

Aperture: f/5.6


Shutter speed: 1/25

Aperture: f/6.3


Shutter speed: 1/20

Aperture: f/7.1


Shutter speed: 1/15

Aperture: f/8


Shutter speed: 1/10

Aperture: f/10

The above image I shot at f/5.6 with a shutter speed of 1/250 second and the lens I used was the Nikkor 70-300vr @ 250mm. Notice how the background is blurred out. If I used an aperture with a greater depth of field [f/11], the background would not have blurred out and the singer would have been lost in a sea of background clutter.

Go out and try this experiment. Have fun and enjoy taking pictures of life!

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