Thursday, August 18, 2011

Beyond the Green Box--Moving Past the Auto Mode

Earlier this month I attended the BlogHer conference in San Diego.  It was a fantastic experience and I met a lot of amazing women and bloggers.   One evening while attending a cocktail party, I was asked to take a picture of two women.   I gladly obliged and after snapping the picture handed back her SLR camera.  When she looked at the photo she said, "Wow, you must be a professional."  I smiled and said that I  had a photography business.

We then started to chat about my favorite subject--photography.  As it turned out, both women who had very nice Canon XTi cameras, had never moved beyond the green box and always took photos in auto mode.  My enthusiasm got the best of me and I quickly launched into a mini tutorial on using AV (the aperture priority setting).  This is the setting that determines how much of your photo is in focus.  It is what can create that creamy, blurred background effect.  

Well, my new found friends were amazed at how easy it was to enhance their photos by making this simple adjustment.   Soon we were snapping photos of the table arrangements, each other, and the harbor and the photos went from good to wow.  We were laughing and chanting, "Aperture Priority is Your Friend."

Here is a quick overview on aperture priority:

In a nutshell,  when you are in AV mode the camera selects the shutter speed in accordance to the aperture setting that you select.   The aperture is indicated by the F number--a higher number will result in photos with more of the photo in focus (great for landscapes), a lower number will create a photo with the foreground in focus and the background blurred (perfect for portraits, flowers, etc.).   We just love that creamy blurred effect!  For example:

My agapanthus taken at F.11  (flower and leaves in focus)

Agapanthus taken at F 2.8 (flower in focus, leaves blurred)

The best way to understand aperture priority is to move beyond the green box and give it a try.  It really is a simple adjustment that can make a huge impact on your photos.  To read more about AV mode, check out this article.    And don't forget to post links to your photos below or post examples on our Facebook wall.

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