As I started my long and never ending story into photography I was more than happy to upgrade from a point and shot camera to a SLR one. That was surely the time to become a real photographer.
At last an instrument, which would produce all this nice and outstanding images, I ever dreamed of. The only thing I was afraid of where all this different knobs and gears I could turn and set. Best to let everything on the “p” mode like Professional. I went out and took a series of images in my surrounding. Guess what, there wasn’t a lot of difference to the images I took before.
Hmm, may be the camera wasn’t the right one. May be I should invest in a better model? Fortunately a friend in school was hanging out with a photographer who was willing to teach us some basic things about Aperture. Bingo!
I learned about depth of field. That’s what separated the real photographer from the crowd. It was so clear and easy to understand. There is one subject in your image, which is important, and this should be sharp, all other unimportant things around should be blurred. So easy to reduce the information you want to give to your audience to a single subject and to tell the story.
It was the Holy Grail!
And it seems to be the holy grail of thousands of photographers as well these days. It is a great tool and technique with little impetus to lead your viewer around by his nose, to force him, where you want him to look. As a tool, it can and is very useful but it can be and in my opinion is somehow overused in the last years.
But at the time I discovered it I wanted to get all Mr. Wizard on my viewers. This was the time when I said good bye to my professional “P” mode and discovered the “A” (Aperture) mode. I got out and nearly shot everything with this shallow depth of field mostly at f 2.8 or less.
There are a lot of reasons for using this approach. The most common is the compositional technique called selective focus. If there is a cluttered situation it is really easy making your intentional subject stand out. Another use is if your scene has small light sources in the background like traffic lights or holiday lights. The depth of field will turn these lights into beautiful glowing orbs. It can give your images a dream like quality.
Than think about getting the experience that the distance from your lens to your subject plays a great role as well. Now I was a photographer – cool images – my family was amazed how good I did. At every family party I was the main photographer. Out in the streets I could get all these great images and you could see immediately what I wanted to show.
I pitied all the other who didn’t understand the concept. Everything sharp from front to back – baaah, must be a photographer with a point and shoot.
Fortunately I was still open for some new techniques and did learn something else as well.
Here are some images shot wide open. I think the most taken images of this kind might be a cup of cappuccino – it seems nearly everyone is doing this.
So shooting wide open is a tool and sometimes a good reason there are plenty of other things to consider as well as you will read in the upcoming posts.