It is by far the most popular webinar I offer, and the results are staggering.
Show Your Camera Who’s Boss is 100% free and will set you up for success with your camera for years to come (in a little over an hour’s time).
While I do have a host of paid online courses for further photography education, I recommend the free training first, for a few specific reasons:
1. My goal in this free class is to lay the groundwork for a firm understanding of your DSLR or mirrorless camera so you can start shooting confidently in manual mode!
2. The free training gives you the opportunity to decide if you like my teaching style before you dive into the courses! I like to break things down simply, use hands-on examples, and avoid complicated tech jargon so YOU can learn quickly and easily.
3. I may or may not offer attendees a special deal on my courses. You’ll be glad you showed up… 😉
To be extra clear, depth of field exists regardless of what the aperture is. The aperture doesn’t cause depth of field. The size of the aperture affects how large or shallow the depth of field will be.
Let’s recap the differences between aperture and depth of field before moving on:
Depth of Field
Every lens has an aperture.
Every photo has depth of field.
Aperture is measured IN f-stops.
Depth of field is determined BY f-stops.
Small vs Large
Deep/Large vs Shallow
Smaller sized hole = bigger f-stop #
Smaller sized hole = larger depth of field
Larger sized hole = smaller f-stop #
Larger sized hole = shallower depth of field
Understanding this relationship is paramount for taking photos in which your subjects truly POP.
I know you know what I’m talking about.
Here are two visual depth of field examples for you. You’ll see both shallow depths and great depths:
Whether your subject is your son playing with chalk on the sidewalk or a regal mountain in the distance, you can control your depth of field using aperture to make your subject(s) pop.
Now that you understand the relationship (and differences) between aperture and depth of field, I have a mini curveball for you that I hinted about earlier.
Aperture isn’t the only thing that controls depth of field…
Ready to learn TWO other factors that can help you achieve a blurred (or sharp) background?
3 Key Factors That Control Depth of Field:
We already talked about this, so I’ll recap.
A larger sized hole creates a shallower depth of field.
– How To: Lower your f-stop to get a larger hole, which will let more light in.
A smaller sized hole creates a larger depth of field.
– How To: Raise your f-stop to get a smaller hole, which will let less light in.
To learn more about how to control your aperture with f-stops (plus everything else you could possibly want to learn about aperture), check out this EPIC blog post.
2. Lens Zoom
The closer you are zoomed into your subject, the shallower your depth of field will become, regardless of your aperture/the f-stop number, etc.
Inversely, the further you are zoomed out from your subject, the larger your depth of field will become.
The closer you physically step toward your subject, the shallower your depth of field will become, regardless of your aperture/the f-stop number, etc.
Inversely, the further you are physically from your subject, the larger your depth of field will become.
Thanks for diving into the “depths” of these concepts with me. 😜
Your photography game will thank you!
YOUR TURN: Experiment with these 3 factors to capture different images with a shallow depth of field and a deep depth of field. Share your photos and which factors you used to achieve the look you got in the comments below!
You’ve heard the word.You know it’s important for some reason.You might even know what it means.But when it comes to your actual camera, you might be a bit lost.What is aperture on my camera? Where is it located and how does it work??I totally get it…Aperture is one of those photography terms that can seem confusing at first because it was poorly explained or not explained at all. (Which is precisely why I decided to write the most comprehensive, helpful article online on aperture – check it out.)Let’s clear the air.The first thing I need to tell you is: aperture is not actually inside of your camera.What?! It’s true.Instead, aperture is only inside of your lens.However!You control your aperture with your camera.(Except old lenses that are manually controlled. Most lenses these days are controlled from the camera.)Then your camera tells your lens what to do with the aperture.It’s like a mini game of telephone between you, your camera, and your lens. 😆3 Things You Need To Know1. Aperture is the physical size of the hole that is inside your lens.2. The size of this hole can be changed.3. The larger the size of the hole, the more light will come into your lens to expose your camera’s sensor, or “film” in the good ol’ days.
– Large Hole = More Light
– Small Hole = Less Light
Depending on the aperture size (measured in f-stops – I’ll explain these numbers more later) set in-camera, a specific amount of light will be allowed to come through the lens to hit your image sensor, which lives inside of your camera and operates like digital film to actually expose and capture your image.Cool, right?!
A Comparison Worth “Seeing”
If you’re having trouble grasping this, aperture works similarly to how our eyes works! Our pupils adjust based on the light in the room to allow more or less light through.You wake up in the middle of the night and need a midnight snack. Assuming you don’t turn on a light, your pupils become quite large so you can make your way out of the bedroom and into the kitchen. The moment you open the fridge, the refrigerator light floods your eyes and your pupils quickly grow smaller to let less light in.You’re driving on a bright, sunny day and don’t have sunglasses on. Your pupils will remain a bit smaller so you can see the road clearly, and your eyes are more protected from light damage. The moment you go through a tunnel, your pupils will widen to let more light in through the fairly dark stretch, until you re-enter the daylight!Our eyes are constantly adjusting automatically for us. How nice!If only our camera could do the same…Oh wait, it does! It’s called auto mode.But wait David, I thought you once said that auto was the devil.You’re a great listener. Auto IS the devil. Wanna know why?
Auto Vs Manual Mode
Every time you take a photo in automatic mode, your camera is making a bunch of decisions to get a balanced, or “correct” exposure based on what it thinks is “correct”.These decisions include:
ISO, aperture, and shutter speed make up the exposure triangle!If you don’t understand the exposure triangle, scroll down to chapter 2 of my post on everything you could possibly need to know about aperture. There’s even a video in there with yours truly!Okay, so the problem with allowing your camera to make all those decisions for you is…You’re a lot smarter than your camera.You’re also a lot more creative than your camera!A “correct” exposure is truly subjective, so it’s up to YOU to determine what settings you need to achieve the photos YOU want!In order to do this, you need to take manual control.Make sense?Auto is the devil because it robs you of your creativity and delivers average (or less than average) photos.You’re better than that, and I’m here to teach you how to Show Your Camera Who’s Boss!Okay, so I can’t leave all the decision-making to my camera because auto is the devil. How do I take manual control of my camera to adjust my aperture?
Changing Aperture On YOUR Camera
First things first.Aperture is measured in number increments called f-stops.Each f-stop or “f” number indicates how small or large the hole is.The trickiest part of this whole article is these aperture numbers are the exact opposite of what you would expect!
The higher the f-stop or “f” number, the smaller the hole.
The lower the f-stop or “f” number, the larger the hole.
I explain this a “hole” lot more in this article. Read the whole thing or head straight to Chapter 3.I know you’re itching to know how to adjust the aperture on your camera.Here is an example for each of the three major camera brands on the market today:
Canon EOS Rebel T6
Turn the dial on the top of your camera to manual mode (M).
Hold down the AV +/- button to the right of your camera display.
As you hold down that button, turn the control dial on the top of your camera to the right to get a higher f-stop/smaller hole, and to the left to get a lower f-stop/larger hole.
Turn the dial on the top of your camera to manual mode (M).
Hold down the +/- button on the top of your camera.
As you hold down that button, turn the command dial to the right to get a higher f-stop/smaller hole, and to the left to get a lower f-stop/larger hole.
Turn the dial on the top of your camera to manual mode (M).
Hold down the AEL (Auto-Exposure Lock) button to the right of your camera display.
As you hold down that button, turn the dial to the right to get a lower f-stop/larger hole, and to the left to get a higher f-stop/smaller hole.
Before we go, let’s recap:
Aperture is the actual size of the hole inside your lens,
which is controlled BY YOU (because auto is the devil), using your camera.
You do this by manually setting your F-stop.
– The higher the F-stop number, the smaller the hole, the less light comes in.
– The lower the F-stop number, the bigger the hole, the more light comes in.
You know, the ones where it looks like the light is shining down from heaven and gracing the subject of the photo with its brilliant presence?
Perhaps it’s highlighting the softly crashing waves at sunset, or the love between a newly engaged couple.
That magical light effect is actually photography trick called lens flare.
It’s a lot easier than most people think…
And can be accomplished with just your DSLR or mirrorless camera.
Sure, you can create the illusion of lens flare with fancy Photoshop skills, but wouldn’t it be cool to master this trick in-camera?
I thought so.
I’m going to break down lens flare for you, how it works and how to achieve it in your photos. I’ll also share some cool ideas to inspire you to try capturing lens flare on your next photo adventure or shoot!
Check out this video for the sundown – I mean rundown – on lens flare:
Lens Flare: What’s the Catch?
We’re definitely here to talk about your flare… 😉
In all seriousness, lens flare is the result of a bright light source entering your lens and refracting the light in a unique way.There are a variety of light sources you can play with to achieve this effect, depending on your situation and your budget.
Here are a few:
Good ol’ sunshine
This scattering of light can cause a variety of lighting effects, including:
Distracting or desirable?
Lens flare can create a realistic and artistic effect on your image, especially when intentional.It can even compliment your subject or highlight a focal point in your photo!
To understand how to control lens flare, we need to take a light swim in aperture‘s waters. Don’t worry – no sharks in these waters!
Aperture: The Key To Success
I can hear your first question a mile away!
What is aperture again?!
It is simply the size of the hole inside your lens.
Further, aperture is a term used by photographers to describe the opening and closing of the blades on the back of a lens. The number of diaphragm blades generally varies, but a good average is 6 to 9 blades, with some lenses having more and some having less.
A larger hole in your lens will allow more light in, while a smaller hole in your lens will allow less light in.
Additionally, aperture is measured in increments called f-stops.
When you have a great amount of light entering a smaller hole in your lens, the light will shine through those aperture blades to produce a starburst effect.Cool, right?!
While aperture is the primary factor to achieving lens flare, it doesn’t go it alone.We need to make sure we have a foundational understanding of the other elements that make up the exposure triangle as well.
The Exposure Triangle Is Your Friend
You heard me right – the exposure triangle is your dearest friend when it comes to photography.
Consider yourself BFFs. I’ll introduce you if this is your first meeting.
Exposure is the brightness of an image:
If the photo is too dark, the photo is considered “under” exposed.
If the photo is too bright, it is considered “over” exposed.
If the brightness of a photo is just right, we call it a “correct” exposure.
A “correct” exposure is subjective to the photographer.
The exposure triangle contains 3 elements:
As you can see in this graphic, aperture works with ISO and shutter speed to create a balanced exposure.
It’s important to realize that if you change your aperture by increasing or decreasing your f-stops, you’ll also need to adjust your shutter speed accordingly. You’ll see how this affects lens flare in the next section.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the exposure triangle, let’s get back to lens flare!
Gorgeous Lens Flare Is 3 Questions Away
I can feel it.
You’re ready to master this super cool trick!
First things first.If you have a lens hood on, you gotta take it off.
A lens hood is designed to shield your lens from harsh light.When seeking to capture lens flare, you don’t need or want this protection. It’s a big world out there, and you’ve got some light to catch!
Now grab your camera and answer these 3 questions:
1. Where is your subject located in relation to the light source?
– If it isn’t already, place your subject directly in front of the sun or other large light source.
– This means your subject (whether a human or a mountain) should be between you and said light source.
2. Do you want your flare to look like a starburst or a glowy blob?
– The higher the f-stop/the smaller the hole, the more intense the starburst look of your lens flare.
– The lower the f-stop/the larger the hole, the less defined your lens flare will be, resulting in glowy blob(s) of light. Nothing wrong with this – it just depends on what look you are going for!
Here is an real life example from each end of the spectrum:
3. Do you know how to adjust your shutter speed?
– To get a balanced exposure, you will need to adjust your shutter speed accordingly (unless you’re shooting in Aperture Priority Mode).
– If shooting with a higher f-stop/smaller hole for a sharper starburst look, you’ll need to compensate for the lack of light coming through the lens. You can do this by decreasing your shutter speed to allow more time for light to enter the lens.
Smaller aperture = longer shutter speed
– If shooting with a lower f-stop/larger hole for a bigger, glowy circle of light, you’ll need to compensate for the extra light coming through the lens. You can do this by increasing your shutter speed to allow less time for light to enter the lens.
Larger aperture = shorter shutter speed
Bonus: Flashlight Hack
If you want to capture lens flare using a flashlight as your light source, simply shine your flashlight at your camera lens as you shoot.
You can do this one of two ways:
Set your camera up on a tripod or stable surface. Shine the flashlight at your lens as you capture your subject.
Hold your camera and have someone shine the flashlight at the lens while you shoot.
Play around with this – experimenting is the best part!
10 Lens Flare Inspirations
Excited to try this out, but feeling a little dry on photo inspiration?
I’ve got a fun top 10 list to get you started…
5. Sunset (or Sunrise)
8. Street Photography
The time has come to catch some light!
All you need to remember are these 3 easy steps:
1. Place your subject between you and your light source.
2. Adjust your aperture according to the look you want.
– For starbursts, go for a higher f-stop.
– For glowy circles of light, go for a lower f-stop.
3. Adjust your shutter speed as necessary to keep a balanced exposure.
Bottom line: be creative and have fun!
I want YOU to follow these 3 easy steps to capture some sweet lens flare. Share your photos and what you learned in the comments below!
New to this whole photography scene or wanting to brush up on your skills? I have a FREE online training called Show Your Camera Who’s Boss and would love to see you there!
Imagine you are taking pictures of your daughter outside. There are trees behind her and she’s wearing a bright yellow dress. You want to capture her beauty in a way that makes her infectious joy POP.
Since she is your subject in this scenario, you are likely going to focus on her bright eyes before taking the shot. Of course, you could choose to focus specifically on her nose instead, or a flower in her hand, or her shoes if you wanted!
Depth of field is how much of the foreground and background are in focus around her eyes (or whatever point you are focused).
You can have a very large depth of field, or a very shallow depth of field.
If all the trees behind your daughter look crisp and in focus in addition to her face, you have a deep or large depth of field. There is a greater amount of space around her in focus.
If the trees behind her look blurred, creamy, and out of focus, but her smiling face is sharp, you have a achieved a shallow depth of field. There is a smaller, more limited amount of space around her in focus.
Both of these image scenarios are accomplished in camera, but because this article is geared toward getting that perfectly blurry background, we’re going to “focus” (pun always intended) on achieving a shallow depth of field today.
(Shhh – if you want a sharp background, you can do the exact opposite of what I explain below to achieve a larger depth of field… 😉)
Stay tuned for the 3 key factors to getting a blurry background…
Bokeh is the photography term attributed to the texture or aesthetic quality of the blurriness of a photo’s background.
It’s that creamy dreamy background blur that everyone’s after, especially when shooting portraits.
Determining this aesthetic quality of the out of focus parts of an image is fairly subjective to the photographer.
The shallower the image, the “smoother” the bokeh. It all comes back to a shallow depth of field, and I’ve got 3 key factors to share with you!
Let’s recap first:
A sharp background is actually referencing a deep/large depth of field.
– When you take a portrait in which the background of the subject is as clear and in focus as the subject’s face and eyes, you have a large depth of field.
A blurred background is actually referencing a shallow depth of field.
– When you have a portrait in which the subject’s face and eyes look crisp and in focus but the background is blurry or creamy, you have a shallow depth of field.
– The quality of this shallow depth of field can also be called bokeh!
Ready to learn the tricks of this in camera effect so you can shoot like the pros?
3 Key Factors to Creating a Blurry Background:
– Understanding and adjusting the aperture is the easiest way to control whether the background of your image is blurry (or sharp).
Very simply put, aperture is the size of the hole inside your lens.
Aperture is a photography term that describes the opening and closing of the diaphragm blades on the back of a lens.
A Quick Word History
According to Merriam-Webster’s definition, aperture is:
1 : an opening or open space : hole entered the cave through a narrow aperture
2a : the opening in a photographic lens that admits the light
b : the diameter of the stop in an optical system that determines the diameter of the bundle of rays traversing the instrument
c : the diameter of the objective lens or mirror of a telescope
The term aperture comes from Middle English and actually goes all the way back to the 15th century, meaning “an opening or open space : hole.” This comes from the Latinapertūra “an opening,” from apertus, past participle of aperire “to open, uncover.”
Over time, this term has grown to describe the size of certain holes in:
While the basic principles are the same, we’re not talking about optics or telescopes…
We’re talking about photography. Surprise!
More specifically, we’re talking about finally knowing your camera like you know an old friend.
Let’s dive in.
My goal here is to always keep it simple. No complicated technical jargon!
History lessons aside, the size of this hole inside your lens can be adjusted to let MORE light in or LESS light in.
If you’re a photographer, I imagine you’re probably pretty visual (like me). Let’s take a look at what this actually looks like on a camera lens.
A large hole in your lens lets more light in, and a small hole in your lens lets less light in.
David is a celebrity, music and advertising photographer, the author of iPhone Only Photography, husband, believer, and new daddy. His work has been seen on over 28 million Pepsi and Mountain Dew cans, in People Magazine, on American Idol, and in The New York Times.