How much light does your camera see? The aperture of your camera is its portal to the light in your scene (and without light, there are no pictures or video). Controlling the aperture is essential to getting the right amount of light on to your camera’s sensor to capture the best shots. There’s another side to aperture as well. As you open the aperture wider, you can narrow the depth of field in your shot, blurring more of the frame outside of your immediate focus area. This is often a hallmark of the “DSLR video” look. Mastering aperture is critical to high-quality video and photos.
This week we cover • What is aperture?
Learn why the aperture is critical to good exposure, and how to access it on your lens.
• A DP’s perspective on aperture
Catch up with director of photography Jim Ball and learn how he uses aperture when shooting in different situations.
• Adjusting the aperture
Learn how to make adjustments to the settings on your camera to get the best results.
• Real-world examples
We’ll evaluate several shots, breaking down what worked and what didn’t. Check out both the sample video above and this week’s complete episode on lynda.com. We’ll help you get the best exposure, and control the depth of field of your shots!
A key factor to keep in mind when shooting outdoors is the position of the sun. In this tutorial find out how to calculate the sun's position in order to plan for your shoot. Find out more about the app here for iTunes and here for Android. Interested in more?
Adorama Photography TV presents the Canon EOS-6D Digital SLR. Adorama TV host Rich Harrington gets his hands on a Canon 6D. He takes it out for a long day of shooting under different conditions in Las Vegas (including a bunch of lowlight shooting). A full review is coming shortly, but we wanted you do see what the Canon 6D can do.
AdoramaTV features talented hosts including: Mark Wallace, Gavin Hoey, Joe McNally, Joe DiMaggio, Tamara Lackey, Bryan Peterson, and Rich Harrington.
An essential concept in photography is the exposure triangle. Three settings in your camera affect how your camera exposes an image: ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. If you’re used to shooting in Automatic mode, you may have never adjusted these properties. However, if you’ve used Aperture or Shutter Priority mode, you’ve started to dabble with manual control. When shooting video, you’ll likely need to shoot entirely in Manual mode and take precise control over all three properties to get the exposure you need. Even if you think you’ve mastered exposure for your DSLR when shooting stills, keep reading. Getting the correct exposure for video is more complicated because of video’s limitations.
The first property you’ll set is the side of the triangle with the least flexibility. The shutter speed controls how long your camera stays open when you take a photo. It has a similar function in video because it greatly impacts how much light comes through. The shutter speed also controls the amount of motion blur in an image.
The camera was locked down on a tripod and properly exposed for this shot. When my son is moving quickly, the shutter speed emphasizes the motion blur; when he’s moving slowly or holding still, he’s much more in focus.
To simulate a filmic image, you need to use the optimum shutter angle to accompany the 24p frame rate in a DSLR. You can use this simple formula:
one second ÷ (frame rate x 2)
For example, when shooting 24 fps, you would set your light meter to a 1/48 second exposure time (you may only have 1/50 as a choice). At 30 fps, you would use 1/60 of a second. Following this guideline will help ensure that the motion blur created by the camera looks natural. Can this rule be broken? Of course. There are two instances in which you will break this rule:
If you want to take on a more stylized approach to your video, you can change the shutter speed. A long shutter speed creates more motion blur and streaking. A shorter speed creates more of a hyper-action look with staccato movements.
If all else fails and you can’t get the exposure you need, you can change the shutter speed to let more (or even less) light into the camera. However, this change should only be made after you’ve exhausted the available aperture and ISO options.
An easy way to think of aperture is as a window. The bigger the window, the more light you let into your camera. Easy enough, right? Of course, a lower number for the f-stop means a bigger opening (which can seem backwards at first).
The lower the f-stop, the wider the aperture. A wider opening lets more light into your camera. Image from Wikimedia Commons. Image by Cbuckley and Dicklyon. The advantage of having a lower f-stop means that you have more control over how much light gets into the camera. This sounds easy; just use the lowest number, right? Well, it’s not that simple. Here are a few details to consider:
The more you open the aperture, the shallower the depth of field. When shooting with an f/1.4 lens, you can literally have a person’s nose in focus while the ears are out of focus.
A lens with a lower f-stop is often more expensive. Most kit lenses have f-stops that range from f/4 to f/6. On the other hand, professional zooms can get as fast as f/2.8 and professional prime lenses (fixed focal length) can get even faster.
Cheaper zoom lenses change their f-stop as you move through the zoom. This can lead to an exposure change in the middle of a video shot if you attempt to use the zoom options.
Typically, I’ll use aperture as my first control for exposure. After I’ve locked in my ISO, I then adjust my aperture to achieve a proper exposure. Often, aperture can be used to control the depth of field in an image (how soon the image starts to go out of focus). For many, this shallow depth of field is a desirable aspect to shooting on a DSLR.
Your camera has an ISO setting that controls how sensitive its sensor is to light. The lower the number, the less sensitive the sensor is. For most cameras, an ISO setting of 100 is considered the base setting. This ISO works well when shooting under bright lights or sunny days. As lighting conditions change, you can bump up the ISO setting to 200 or 400 to deal with mixed lighting or overcast days. Higher ISO settings, like 800, 1250, and even 1600, can be used for nighttime and low-light shooting. Many newer DSLR cameras offer even higher ISO settings. However, it’s important to remember that cranking up the ISO is literally like turning up the volume. As the signal is amplified, the amount of visible noise increases. For still workflows, this noise can often be cleaned up with filters. For video, you’re out of luck. Too much noise will result in a grainy image with dancing pixels. Be sure to test your camera and determine how high of an ISO setting you’re comfortable using.
The noise becomes very visible in this low-light image. In this case, an ISO of 6400 was used; however, it produces an unusable image. Be careful not to boost your ISO too high when shooting in low light, or visible noise will ruin the shot.
presents the Nikon D600 Digital SLR. In this episode, I show you what Nikon's latest Digital SLR is all about.
Join Rich as he walks you through the many features and modes of this amazing camera. Watch as he explains all that it can do, such as shooting RAW and uncompressed HD video. Then, follow along as he takes you through the menu system for a closer look.
I have a tendency to carry a lot (and I mean A LOT) of memory cards on a shoot. Between shooting panoramic photos, time-lapse sequences, and HD video, I burn through memory cards faster than most. I find myself needing to be certain that I avoid accidentally erasing data. Here’s my strategy for safety:
Make sure that all memory cards are erased BEFORE going into the field. Don’t bring cards with data or you’ll sit there wondering if you transferred them already or if you’re about to wipe your only copy.
Have two card wallets. One full and one empty. Make sure they have the same number of slots.
Put the full wallet with all of the blank memory cards into your right pocket.
Put the empty wallet with no cards in it in your left pocket.
As you shoot cards, place them upside down in the card wallet in your left pocket.
Repeat this phrase ten times… The cards in the right pocket are the right cards to shoot with; the cards in my left pocket should be left alone.
I know it’s simplistic… but it’s saved me more than one time. Give it a shot.
If you have to shoot your panoramic images without a tripod, you’ll need to adjust your handheld shooting technique.
Try wrapping the camera strap around your elbow. This allows you to place tension on the strap so it is taut. The tension is a useful way to constrain the camera movement and make it more an extension of your body.
Hold the camera in front of your body so its strap hangs downward.
Slip your arm through the strap so it goes just past your elbow.
Wrap your hand around the outside edge of the strap and grab the camera body.
Press your elbow into the strap to increase tension on the strap and stabilize the camera.
To pan the camera smoothly, you’ll need to properly position your body.
Square your body up with your subject.
Spread your feet shoulder-width apart.
Rotate at the waist and twist body while keeping your shoulders and camera in close to your body.