This tutorial will focus on the Manual Mode Aperture Priority. Aperture (also called F-stop) controls two things. One thing is how much light gets recorded onto your film or digital sensor (depending on the kind of camera you have; film or digital). The best way I have learned to understand this concept is to think about your eye. The iris controls how much light is passing through your eye. The iris will open more when there is little light or close more when there is a lot of light all while copying the image to your brain (the digital sensor). The second thing Aperture controls is what is in focus in the picture. This is known as your Depth of Field. Do you want one or two people in focus? Or do you want everyone in focus?
The Aperture is displayed through a number system. New cameras should have the apertures (f-stops) listed within the camera and within the manual. The aperture could generally be as low as 1 or as high as 90. This really depends on your lens though. Different lenses will have different available apertures. If the number is on the lower end, then that means your Depth of Field is shallow. A specific thing or area will be clear, but everything else will be blurry (or blurred to an extent). If the number is higher, then you have deep Depth of field. Everything or most things will be clearly in view and little to no blur. Now comes the whammy. Are you ready? The smaller the number, the more light you will be letting into your camera. This is called a High Aperture. The larger the number, the less light will be coming into your camera. This is called a Low Aperture. Yes, it’s backwards. Yes, it can be confusing. But just go back to my eye illustration and try to see if it makes since.
Aperture Priority Mode allows the user to pick the aperture that they want while the camera chooses the other camera settings to balance out the picture. This is very helpful, but sometimes the image can be a little dark. Give and take right? There are ways to counteract this, but that is for another day. Something to be aware of is that not every camera has the same capabilities. Depending on your lens or your camera itself, you will have a certain range of apertures that you may use. Just make sure that your ISO is set to auto when in AV mode.
Now on to the fun part. Remember to read your owner’s manual first and figure out what is what on your camera. Every camera is different and each company usually has its own little twist on how they call or label something.
• Camera with Manual Modes
• Nice subject to work with
• Tripod (Optional but helpful)
Step 1: Find Something to Photograph
*To get a good feel of how aperture affects your photo, put a couple feet between you and your objects so you can see the big picture. Try not to zoom in right away. In the picture above, do you notice the yellow flowers? They are blurry while the pink flowers stand out.
Step 2: Set to Aperture Priority Mode
Step 3: Select the Aperture Menu/Options Button
Step 4: Select an Aperture (fstop)
Low Aperture (1-6) – Select this option for something specific or part of something specific you want in focus.
Medium Aperture (7-15) - Select this option for a small group of things or multiple things that you would like to be in focus.
High Aperture (16 and up) – Select this option for many things or everything to be in focus.
*The numbers given are not set in stone. If you have an aperture capability of 64, more things will be in focus than even a 22 aperture which is still higher. It is all relative (bummer) so this is something to get used to.