January 22, 2018
When I first got a camera, I was so excited to use it. My husband bought me a Canon Rebel T6, which came with a kit lens. The problem was, I only knew how to use the camera in Auto mode, so I had no control over what I was shooting. I wanted that blurry background I saw in professional pictures, but I didn’t know how to get it.
Today I’m going to teach you how to shoot in Aperture Priority Mode instead of Auto.
Why? Because in Auto, your camera decides what you need based on the light available, and you have no say over what your pictures look like.
In this mode, you get to control how blurry you want your background to be. Aperture is an opening in your lens that lets light in. The lower your aperture can go, the more light is let in and the blurrier your background can be. This is measured in F stops, so an F5.6 lets in less light than an F1.8. My first camera only came with a kit lens and the lowest I could make my aperture was around 5.0, which is still ok if your subject is far away from its background (like a row of trees) but if you’re looking to invest in a better lens to get more of a professional look, I recommend the Canon 50 mm 1.8. This will give you a great professional look for a low cost. (Throughout this post, I’m going to refer to Canon, but if you have a different brand, research what is similar to the Canon resources I recommend and you should be able to easily find a match.)
Aperture Priority Mode lets you choose the ISO setting (we’ll discuss this in the next section) and the Aperture setting while choosing your Shutter Speed for you. Exposure works like a triangle where these three (Aperture, ISO, and Shutter Speed) work together to properly expose your photo. In Aperture Priority Mode, you’re mainly focused on how much of your scene is in focus and the brightness of the photo.
Depth of Field is the term for how much of your scene will be in focus. If you want a picture where everything is in focus, you would want that F stop to be high, but if you want only one person or thing to be in focus, you would want a low number. Below is a photo I took where the F stop was 1.4 and you can see that the only thing in focus is the “&” sign.
If you want to take a group shot, you would want a larger F stop, such as F4 or F5.
So to recap, a small F number means a blurrier background and a higher F number will make your background less blurry.
ISO is used to brighten your image, or to bring the brightness down. It’s how sensitive your camera is to light. In bright settings, keep your ISO around 100 or 200. If a setting is darker, bump your ISO up to increase the brightness. Try not to go past 1600 or your photo will get grainy.
1. Put your camera on Av mode.
2. Set your aperture. (You may have to read your instruction manual to figure out how to change your aperture, but for my camera, it’s by using the dial at the top of the camera).
3. Set the ISO. (Like I said, if it’s bright, set it on 100 or 200 and if it’s dark, try starting around 800 and adjust as necessary. Refer to your manual to see how to change this.)
4. Make sure your shutter speed doesn’t go under 100 or your picture may be blurry with any movement. You may have to adjust your aperture or ISO to get to a higher shutter speed. (Your shutter speed can usually be seen when you look through the viewfinder of your camera. It is usually the number all the way to the left of the meter.)
5. Take your picture!
I know this is a lot of information, but with practice, you’ll have pictures to be proud of that you can’t wait to frame! Take your pictures and share them on social media! I’d love to see them so tag me at @virginiagreenephotography on Instagram or @virginiagreene on Facebook !
Next week in my email list I’ll be sharing my favorite app for lightening up iPhone photos and my favorite software for editing images from my camera. You can sign up here to make sure you don’t miss out & to get a quick freebie on what to wear for pictures!