I must be doing something right for a change, if you’re still here. Right-o then, lets’ get cracking!
We’ll be talking about the modes today – or one mode in particular. This mode is the staple diet of the photographer, so to speak.
To access the modes, your camera probably has a round dial on the top, that bears some alphabets and in all probability, some pictures as well. There would be a P, an A, an S and an M for sure. If there isn’t a dial, consult your camera manual – maybe you access these via the menu instead. (In that case, honestly, where did you get that camera from – it’s inconvenient to be fiddling with menus.) P stands for Program; A stands for Aperture; S stands for Shutter and M for Manual. These are the shooting modes you’ll be working with. The picture based ones are presets that can be used in certain situations without going through the hassle of fiddling with the settings yourself. Nope, you can’t change them, so don’t try. I’m skipping the program mode because honestly I’ve never used it – I have no clue what it does. I guess it is similar to the program mode on a point and shoot, where you can fiddle with a few settings and that would be that.
Let’s start with the least understood of all modes as far as a newbie is concerned – the Aperture mode. I say least understood because every online article I’ve come across bores on and on about f-stops and this and that – confusing the non-techie reader who’d rather have a simple explanation or like me, is rather impatient and wants the crux of the information in a fast, snappy and easy to understand (Read – Idiot-proof) manner. Here it goes, something like this.
The aperture or A mode is the default mode chosen by most photographers. Think of an aperture as a hole in the wall of a dark room, letting the light in. The bigger the hole, the more light you have in the room so that you can see what is inside. Besides yourself, that is. You adjust the size of the aperture and the camera takes care of the shutter speed and other variables. The A mode also functions as a Depth of Field creator. (Again, I’m trying to explain this to a non-photographer, so experienced ones bear with me – I know what y’all are thinking right now) What is a depth of field? For simplicity’s sake, we’ll call it the area of focus within the photo you took. Notice how cell phone cameras have all the areas of the photo in focus, while a similar photo taken by a DSLR will have the near and far areas blurred out with only the object in focus? That blurring out occurs due to depth of field effect, which is manipulated by your aperture settings. Simply put, the smaller the size of the aperture, the smaller the DOF effect and vice-versa.
Here’s a couple of photographs for understanding this. First is with aperture set to 3.5, the lowest setting on my kit lens.
The image below is with the aperture set to 22.
Got it? A little experimentation to work with, perhaps? Go ahead, try it out with your camera in a situation similar to the above examples.
Where to use aperture mode? Pretty much everywhere, if I’m honest. Why? Simply, we don’t have the time to fiddle around with other settings much especially in places like weddings and picnics – snap, move on. Set to aperture and control the DOF (Depth of Field) for some great photos!