Photography Tip of the Day: Aperture/Speed Demo

Photography Tip of the Day: Aperture/Speed Demo

I’m so excited that I will begin teaching classes at the YMCA, and the Forks Community Center in the next few months. My biggest goal will be to teach my students to get out of AUTOMATIC and into MANUAL mode.

MANY different factors come into play when you are taking pictures in manual mode, but today we’re going to talk about two of the big dogs of photography 101  (of which is covered in much more detail in one of my which, the students will learn and perform these tasks themselves).
Aperture (f-stop) & Shutter Speed

PHOTOGRAPHY cheat sheet


I know this will look foreign to you…but hang in there……

Here we go! I set up my table with some colorful goodies (paper flowers, some straws, mason jars and shells).  For this demo, I am using my 50mm f/1.4 lens, and this will demonstrate how aperture and shutter speed work together.

I started with my aperture wide open….f/1.4 (my chart above doesn’t even go that low…it stops at 2.8, but that’s ok!).  That gives us a very shallow depth of field – you can see that only the blue flower in front and tiny part of the table are in focus, and the background is there, but a bit blurred out. That wide aperture (f/1.4)  also lets in a lot of light, so we need to have a very fast shutter speed or we’ll end up with an overexposed (too light) photo.

(aperture 1.4 ~ shutter speed 1/1000)

ap 1dot4 ss 1000

Moving on…at an aperture of 2.2, everything but the flower is still pretty blurry, (and the shell is starting to make an appearance).

Now, let’s start closing down the aperture (like closing the blinds), (remember that the bigger the number gets, the smaller the opening – 16 is a smaller opening than 2.8. (weird rule right??), which will let in less light than before, so to make up for the smaller aperture opening, you have to slow down the shutter speed, which will let in more light.  Hang in there….

(aperture 2.2 ~ shutter speed 1/500)

ap 2dot2 ss 500

Here at aperture 4.5 and speed of 1/125, the everything begins to take on life.

As the aperture keeps getting smaller, your shutter speed will begin to get slower and slower in order to let in enough light. When you hit a speed of 1/60…it’s time to use a tripod for these shots. As you get better, you may be able to go down to 1/40! But, remember the slower the speed, the more chance of blurriness!

(aperture 4.5 ~ shutter speed 1/125)

ap 4dot5 ss125

Doubling down now….keep closing (“shutting down”) the aperture.

(aperture 9.0 ~ shutter speed 1/30)

ap 16 ss 15

Wow, did you know that the grandfather’s clock was back there?! 🙂

Now, let’s see how my photo looks when my aperture is as small as it can go.

(aperture 22.0 ~ shutter speed 1/15)

ap 22 ss 15

Everything is crystal clear!
Look at the difference from f/1.4……….to………f/22!!
The ART you want to create is waiting for you!

 flowers aperture sample


Ok, so did you get that??? Don’t worry, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE until this jargon becomes your new language.
Here are a few more tips:

Remember your speed may be a little different than mine above (depending on the light in your room…my kitchen was not that bright today).

Get out your some fruit, crayons, or crafts and make them your models of the day. And start shooting!
If you do this, I’d love to see them!!

Comment below if this helps…and don’t forget to subscribe on the right. Follow along for more tips/tutorials.

Until next time…have fun!!

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