Now that you have had some time to experience the Program (P) mode on your camera let’s try something new. Click the dial over one more spot to the Aperture (Av-if you use a superior Canon camera, A if you use a capable but lesser Nikon camera) mode. Aperture mode allows you to have control of ISO and whether or not you want your flash to fire. Shutter speed will be determined by the camera.
The top left aperture diagram would illustrate a aperture that had been “stopped down”. For example-that setting might be something like f/22. The bottom right aperture in this diagram would be something like f/2.8. Referencing these examples shows what a difference aperture settings can make in relation to how much light passes through the lens into the camera.
Let’s back up one step and discuss what Av mode is going to allow us to do. Controlling aperture is going to control how much light we allow to enter the camera and how well it is focused through the lens. Changing the aperture setting opens or closes a diaphragm inside the lens. A wide open aperture will allow more light to enter the camera, but in a less organized way. A narrow aperture will let less light in, but in a more organized way. Controlling light in this manner will give great creative control of what we can capture and what we want to be in focus or out of focus.
Aperture readings are essentially fractions-but are not displayed as such in our camera settings. An f 2.8 aperture is technically 1/2.8. A f/16 aperture is 1/16. If you can remember this nuance it will make more sense that f /2.8 actually means the diaphragm in the lens is more open than f /16.
- Control what is in focus-or not in focus. This is also referred to as depth of field. For instance-shooting a person or group of people at f /2.8 would allow blurring of the background and drawing focus to the main subject. When shooting a landscape more of the image would generally need to be in focus. Shooting at f /16 or a closed down aperture would be preferred.
- Low light conditions would lead us to use a more open aperture to allow more light to reach the sensor. Conversely shooting in conditions with excess light might lead us to closing down the aperture to let less light to the sensor.
- Closing down the aperture can give neat effects i.e. lens flare, and sun burst effects.
Be sure to turn the trusty camera dial over to Aperture priority mode and give it some practice. Here at Shutterhogs we are obviously big proponents of learning to use the Manual mode-but that does not negate the usefulness of other modes. Aperture mode is good for those situations where you know for certain what effect you want to achieve with aperture but may not have time to work out the shutter speed. Some shooting situations may change too rapidly to allow you to modify settings. Aperture priority mode with the ISO setting set to Auto can help you in those situations.