Anyone that owns a camera has probably wondered what that f# means, and what it does. You see it on your camera, and you see it on your lens; but what does it really mean. I won't drive to far down into the details, but I wanted to provide people with a clear visual representation of what it does, and how it affects your photographs.There are 3 things that control the exposure of your image: Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO. These 3 settings on your camera are the 3 elements to the Exposure Triangle, and have a direct impact on how your image exposure, and how your image will appear. The f# is your aperture.
Simply put: Aperture is like a valve inside your lens that opens up and closes down to regulate the amount of light entering the sensor inside your camera. When the aperture is open really wide, your camera sensor is pulling in a lot of light, On the other hand, when the aperture is closed down the amount of light entering your camera sensor is greatly reduced. How does this relate to me taking a picture? Let's say for instance your taking a picture of a person late at night outside; and because it's late at night, there isn't a lot of light to work with. Opening the aperture on your lens will allow to capture as much available light as possible to get a properly exposed image. On the contrary, lets say your taking a picture of person midday on a bright and sunny day. Due to the fact that there is a large amount of available light to work with, you will not need a very wide aperture to obtain a properly exposed image.
Although it affects your exposure, aperture dictates more than just how light or how dark you photo is. Aperture is by far my favorite setting to manipulate, because it allows me to inject my artistic taste into my images by giving my control over Depth of Field. Depth of Field can be described as the area of your image that is in focus. As an artist, I sometimes choose to isolate my subject from its surroundings, and shoot with a very shallow depth of field which is achieved with a very wide aperture. There are also times when I'm presented with a vast landscape before me, and I want the viewers to see every little minute detail; A large depth of field is achieved by shooting with a very small aperture.
Little Numbers & Big Numbers
Comparing aperture is comparable to gauges of wire. The smaller the f#; the wider the aperture; and the more shallow the depth of field. The larger the f#: the smaller the aperture: and the greater the depth of field. For example: F1.8 is a very wide aperture, and f22 is a very small aperture.
Large Aperture vs Small Aperture
What Does Depth of Field Look Like?
The slideshow below shows what different apertures look like. I used my twin boys Darian and Donovan as subjects for this lesson, and both boys remained about 60 feet apart All of the images are focused on my son Darian on the left, and the The aperture was changed by 1 stop each time. Pay close attention to my son Donovan on the right; as the aperture gets smaller (larger f#), he begins to to come into focus.
Below I will show you some more examples of what shallow depth of field and large depth of field look like. As I said before, depth of field is dictated by your f#.
Shallow Depth of Field: Small f#
Large Depth of Field: Big f#
Aperture controls Exposure & Depth of Field
Landscapes and large scenes are often photographed with smaller apertures (large f#'s). Portraits of people are often photographed with larger apertures (larger f#'s), to separate them from the background and their surroundings. In my opinion, there is not right or wrong aperture to capture a photo with. I consider aperture my style button, and I use it to add flavor and taste. One must understand that it also controls your exposure, so the aperture you choose when photographing, may or may not be possible depending on environment that your shooting in. In any case. I love sharing my knowledge you, and look forward to sharing the other 2 elements of the exposure triangle within the next few weeks. Please stay tuned.
This past weekend I grabbed my camera and two of my boys and made a trip north to Frozen Ocean Motorsports Complex in Auburn, New York. This facility consists of 66 acres of racing real estate which includes a practice track, an outdoor motocross track, a night motocross track and a Go-Kart track. Having never attended a motocross event, I must say that I'm now a huge fan! My parents took to me to a few hill climbs when I was younger, but I don't really remember the experience. However, I will not be forgetting this recent experience anytime soon. From the smell of fuel to the sound of dirt bikes shifting gears, and the vibration in the soil to the sight of mud and dirt being flung by tires grasping for traction; the experience was powerful to say the least.
Freezing the Action at Frozen Ocean
I will let you all in on some helpful tips regarding motocross photography and sports photography in general. As with most sports, the action is fast paced and things tend to happen rather quickly. Racing is about seeing who can go the fastest ideally; and therefore, speed plays an extremely pivotal role. If you want to freeze the action of the riders, then you must use a very fast shutter speed.
What is a fast Shutter Speed?
I consider anything over 1/1000 of a second to be a fast shutter speed.
There are some important factors to consider here though. If your subject is moving 5 mph then you don't necessarily need a shutter speed of 1/1000, and you could probably freeze subject in motion with a shutter speed as low as 1/400 of second. On the other hand, if you subject is blazing the trails at 60 mph then a shutter speed of 1/1000 of second is a great starting point. At Frozen Ocean, I used shutters speeds as fast as 1/3000 of second in order to freeze the motion of the riders. Below are some examples of freezing motion.
Freezing motion is fun and appealing, because we get a chance to slow down what our eyes are actually seeing. It's really difficult for our eyes to keep up with fast paced action, but cameras have the ability to bring this action to a complete standstill. Freezing action is great, but there is another way to show showcase the rapid activity on the track.
Slow Your Roll Son!
Fast shutter speeds freeze action, and slower shutter speeds reveal movement. By using slower shutter speeds, you can introduce motion and blurring into your image and give the viewer a sense of movement. Below are some examples of using a slower shutter speed to blur parts of the image.
Some of you may be wondering why some parts of the images are blurry and some are not? There is photography technique called panning that allows a photographer to keep their subject sharp and in focus while leaving the background to fall soft and blurry.
Panning can be defined as using the cameras auto focus to track the continuous movement of you subject, and swinging your lens along the same plane as your subject while taking the picture. If the subject is moving from the right side of the frame to the left side of the frame then you'll be moving your camera and lens in the same manner. Your moving with the subject essentially. I won't lie, this technique is difficult and can be very frustrating at times, because the success rate can be rather low. However, once you've executed this technique correctly, the image results can be quite rewarding.
Here are a few tips on panning!
As I said before, it can be difficult to achieve good results with this technique, but stunning images are attainable. Even for experienced photographers, this technique can prove to be arduous. I've been know to shoot several hundred images using this technique, and only being satisfied with a hand full. Trial and error and a bit of practice, and you too can pull off the panning technique. I love using this style to give viewers a sense of what the riders might be feeling; that rush of chaos and adrenaline. By freezing motion the viewer could come to the conclusion that the dirt bike was sitting still; yet, introducing motion into your images with the panning technique gives the impression that the dirt bike was moving.
A Sport For All Ages
What fun is playing in the mud if he little ones can't play too? It was great to see the youth classes out there adventuring through the track. It is with these younger children that the foundation of racing is built and the future of racing lies. It's was great seeing parents, coaches, and other riders providing encouragement to these kids throughout their races. Some riders got stuck in the mud, fell off their bikes, stalled their bikes; but nonetheless, the track officials were there to assist them. My hat goes off these kids, as some of the jumps and inclines must have seemed like mountains, but they suited up for the challenge!
Some might assume that these boys and girls aren't actually athletes, because the bikes are doing the heavy lifting by doing most of the work. I'm here to tell you that is NOT true! Every corner these riders hit they are fighting to keep the bike in line. Every jump they hit their bodies are absorbing some of the impact. Their muscles are constantly fighting the bike and the track. Riding these mean machines aren't exactly a walk in the park. I witnessed a few wrecks, and one in which a person was removed from the track in an ambulance. This sport is tough, rugged, and requires a person to have a stronghold on their fears and whole lot of courage. These riders strap on their helmets and other riding gear like they're headed for battle!
The Love For Speed
If the sport is dangerous and contains many risks such as bodily harm then why do these people participate in the sport of motocross? I don't ride a dirt bike nor have I ever made the attempt, but I'm going to speculate as to why these men, women, boys, and girls compete in the sport of motocross. The lust for adrenaline, the rush of wind whipping against the body, the feeling of defying gravity, and the power of speeding like a bullet. I'm sure there are many more reasons why each individual rider commits to the sport and dedicates his or her time practicing and competing all while sacrificing their bodies to be crowned victor of races. Nonetheless, the sports is amazing, and I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing the beautiful chaos.
To view more images of the races on April 17th, 2016 at Frozen Ocean click HERE!!!
Where would we all be without our mother carrying us in their womb for about 9 months? Where would we be without the sacrifices that our mother's make for us throughout our lives? Everyone may have a different answer, but I personally wouldn't be anywhere in life without my Mamma! My Mother paved the way for me. She showed me the paths in life, and told me that it was up to me to walk them. Through her love, care, understanding and many other things that she provided me - I became a man. There are many others out there who share this same love and respect for their own mothers, and because of this, I want to help you give the moms in your life something special this upcoming Mother's Day!
What do most Mother's want? In my experience, I've learned that they want more time with their children. This Mother’s Day, give her just what she’s longing for, the opportunity to see your smiling face every day with a current picture. Between now and May 1st, Old Stage Photo is offering Mother's Day Mini Sessions!!!
Mother's Day Mini Session
Your session can be designed in several different ways: Mom with her children, Mom with her family, or even just mom's children. I love surprising my wife with a picture she's never seen or one I've created without her knowing. The look on their face speaks thousands of words, when they see that you've taken the time to show your appreciation.
Try something different this Mother's Day besides flowers or a restaurant meal.
Give them the gift of timeless imagery!
Adrian Mitchell --