All but the most basic digital cameras these days give the photographer the ability to have some artistic control over their camera settings, something that is currently only found on more advanced film cameras.Â However, because of previous experience using "point and shoot" film cameras, most digital camera owners donâ€™t ever stray from the full "Auto" setting.Â Many digital cameras offer preset shooting modes for portraits, landscapes and fill flash shooting, which is better than nothing, but the computer chip still makes all of the setting decisions taking much of the creativity out of the equation.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Shooting in Aperture Priority (AV on most cameras) is an easy way to exercise some of your own vision in how a photo should look.Â Without getting too technical, the aperture setting determines how far the cameraâ€™s shutter will open when a photo is taken.Â Most basically, a large opening will let in more light while a small opening will let in less light.Â On auto the camera always chooses the aperture that lets in enough light to ensure a sharp photo.Â However, the aperture setting has a second function as well.Â A large opening decreases the "depth of field" or amount of the image that can be in focus at one time, while a small opening increases the "depth of field".
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Say you want to get a nice portrait shot where the person's face is in focus, but the background is pleasingly blurred.Â Set the camera for a large aperture, focus on the subject's eyes and viola, you get professional looking portraits.Â Next you want to shoot a landscape with flowers in the foreground and nice mountains in the distance and you want everything to be in razor sharp focus.Â Set the camera for a small aperture and the depth of field will be wide enough to keep everything nice and crispy.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â That's all there is to it.Â Well, actually not.Â There are a couple of tricky bits to keep in mind.Â First of all, the aperture settings are counterintuitive.Â The smaller the aperture setting (or f-stop) the larger the openning and vice versa.Â This means that if you want a large opening to get a shallow depth of field you need an f-stop of f/5.6 or lower.Â If you want a small opening for maximum depth of field you need a large f-stop.Â Many smaller digital cameras top out with an f-stop of f/8, but SLRs can go up to f/22 and higher depending on the lens being used.Â The second tricky bit is that as you decrease the size of the opening (by increasing the f-stop number) you reduce the amount of light coming in which makes the camera use a slower shutter speed.Â In low light or with very small apertures (like f/22) the shutter speed will be slow enough to require a tripod in order to get a picture that isnâ€™t blurry.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â So, get off the Auto mode once in a while and nurture your creative nature with a little aperture control.