What does the title above mean to you….shooting wide open?
To me, it means photographs that are beautifully in focus around the subject I wanted to be in focus, and the rest of the photo being pleasantly blurred.
That’s just one of the advantages of shooting wide open as they say, meaning at one of your largest apertures. Next question is going to be “what’s a large aperture?”, so I’ll address that straight away!
Your camera has settings called apertures or f stops….if you select a small number on that ring around your camera lens, you’ve selected a large aperture or f stop. Conversely, if you select a large number, you will have selected a small aperture or f stop.
Some readers who are new to photography may ask, well, what exactly is an aperture? An aperture, as the word says, is exactly that, an aperture or gateway for light to travel through to your film or sensor in the camera youre using, digital or film.
The aperture is formed by a series of thin, concentric pieces of metal inside your camera, which, fold or open in response to the setting you choose when you turn that adjusting ring around the lens.
So to recap, today we’re talking about taking shots at aperture settings of f1.4, f2, f2.8 etc….all large apertures.
What shooting at these apertures does is to utilise the depth of field of your lens, which is a characteristic of all lenses, whereby subjects close by will show up in focus and others behind the subject, to its side or in front, out of focus.
That allows the person looking at your photo to concentrate on the subject rather than the background etc.
Shooting wide open can be used with portraits, street shots etc, but remember, with things like street shooting, you are taking your chances…..whatever you shoot may not contain subjects you wanted to be in focus!
With other subjects like portraits etc, you have plenty of time to think about what will be in focus so you can aim for that. Typically, a portrait shot in this way may for example have as its focus the person’s eyes, which will be pin-sharp, the rest of the face being blurred…fine if that’s what you wanted!
Another good subject is plants or flowers…shooting wide open will make your flower or bud show in perfect focus whilst the background will be pleasantly blurred. I find it particularly useful when shooting close up raindrops on blades of grass etc….the raindrop comes out pin-sharp with a nice, blurred green background.
Whatever, taking your shots wide open can result in superb photographs, but there are a few problems you need to be aware of.
One is that all lenses, no matter of high quality or not, will perform their worst at wide apertures. You will get vignetting, resolution fall-off, etc. Sometimes this can add value to your photo, sometimes not. A case of half-a-dozen-of-one, six-of-the-other, as they say!
There are plenty of other advantages and problems with this style of shooting….we’ll address those issues another day, but for today, this is enough to whet your appetites! Go shoot!