It's week 32 of my personal photography project and the subject is "Wide Open", not spaces, although that's a great Dixie Chicks song, but rather wide open aperture. Aperture is one third of the exposure triangle, the other two points being ISO and Shutter Speed; the three points of the triangle are the photographer's tools with which they make creative decisions in the making of an image. All three points control light reaching the camera sensor, but in different ways.
Aperture literally means a hole, gap or opening. In photography, Photographylife.com does a great job of explaining it this way; "aperture is a hole within a lens, through which light travels into the camera body. It is an easy concept to understand if you just think about how your eyes work. As you move between bright and dark environments, the iris in your eyes either expands or shrinks, controlling the size of your pupil. In photography, the “pupil” of your lens is called your aperture. You can shrink or enlarge the size of the aperture to allow more or less light to reach your camera sensor."
Aperture is not just an element that controls the amount of light that reaches the sensor, it also controls depth of field or "DOF". DOF is the vertical "slice", or plane, in the image that will be in focus. Here's where things get tricky; large apertures (openings) have the small numbers and vice versa. This one usually throws new photographers for a loop. Apertures are expressed in numbers with an "f" in front of them, also known as "f-stops"; for example f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6 and so on.
Small apertures have large numbers such as f/16 or f/22. Much more of the image will be in focus in images captured with small aperture openings because the "slide of focus" is much thicker.
I could go on (and on, and on) about aperture, but I think one of the things about it that people are the MOST interested in is how it can isolate a subject from the background and create bokeh, those soft bulbs of light, in an image - more on that at the bottom of the post.
I decided to give Ginger a break this week and feature our cat, Jiffy, in the post. These images were photographed with natural window light facing him so the large aperture (and low number of f/1.8) allowed sufficient light in to expose at 1/250 second shutter speed (which is good for a hand-held image - i.e. no tripod - and a wiggling cat) and ISO 400 to keep the noise low in the image given the rather dark background.
This large aperture did a good job of blurring and blending the sofa, dog and my husband in the background (you didn't know that was all back there did you?)! But notice that at this large aperture, the "slice of focus" is thin indeed, while his face is in focus, his paw, which was only a couple of inches further back from his eyes, is blurred. That's fine with because the subject of the image isn't Jiffy's paw, it's his beautiful green eyes!
Our dog Gracie decided to get in on the action and Jiffy took the opportunity to give her a little "love swat" as she walked by. This image too was photographed at f/1.8, it's not just the background that will be blurred with a large aperture, both the foreground and the background outside of the "slice of focus" will be blurred because I kept the focus point on Jiffy's eye. I'll have to feature Gracie and our other dog Dingo in a future post; they're a bit more camera shy than Ginger, so that should be interesting!
And here's an example of bokeh that I mentioned above; Bokeh is a Japanese term for the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Functionally it's the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light. It's those soft, blurry blobs in the background. The effect helps separate the subject from the background and most viewers find it very appealing.
This is Jack, he was available for adoption from Cane Rosso Rescue when I took this picture, but he was adopted shortly after his portraits were posted! Yeah for photography helping pups in need!
Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography is a Certified Professional Photographer with the organization Professional Photographers of America; a designation held by fewer than 2,500 photographers nationwide and a hallmark of consistency, technical skill, artistry and professionalism. Penny Whistle specializes in both natural light and studio photography providing pet, couple and engagement, family and high school senior portraits as well as corporate headshots and commercial photography in her studio located in old town Carrollton as well as out on location in Coppell and surrounding communities in Dallas – Fort Worth, Texas.