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General photography questions and answers: Discuss Focal aperture...Hi all, as I said in my hello-post Im really really new to photography, so my questions will concern probably ...
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Old 19-10-2007, 13:29   #1 (permalink)
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Question Focal aperture

Hi all,
as I said in my hello-post Im really really new to photography, so my questions will concern probably the most basic things.
And I have to add that I dont know the technical terms, because our library has only german books on the topic, so I hope my title line meets what I am describing now.
I want to take photos with hazy fore- or backgrounds.
Im using a Fuji Finepix S5600
The manual says I have to fiddle with the aperture, which I did plenty. I lined up a row of bottles because I thought it would be smart to learn by doing. But the different settings had absolutely no influence on the photo. All bottles were more or less clearly defined
I so hope somebody can help me out.
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Old 19-10-2007, 14:01   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Focal aperture

You should try using Aperture Priority mode with your camera on a tripod, with the bottles lined up away from the lens in a line, to give some depth to your test.

Focus on one of the middle bottle tops and take several pics at various aperture settings.

Low f-numbers (large apertures) will give shorter depth of field - i.e. the bottles in front and behind should be out of focus. High f-numbers (small apertures) will give greater depth of field - i.e. everything's in focus.

The trouble is, the sensor size on your S5600 will be quite small, so you are at a slight disadvantage to start with, because your small sensor means you'll get quite a bit of depth of field even with large apertures, compared to cameras with bigger sensors.

The effect will be best when you focus on a foreground subject quite close to the camera and make sure there's plenty of distance between the subject and the background which you want to blur.

I took this closeup of a flower a few years ago with my Fuji 6900. Notice the background is blurred a bit but not very much - and that's using the maximum aperture for that camera of f/2.8 and the subject was very close to the lens.

It's worth noting that having a smaller sensor is sometimes an advantage. Shooting wide open with fast (large maximum aperture) lenses at close distances with larger sensors often results in a very short depth of field, which means focusing needs to be perfect. Here's an example of tiny DoF.

I hope some of that is useful. If you're still not seeing any difference using different aperture settings, please post some examples so we can try and help...
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Old 19-10-2007, 14:16   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Focal aperture

It was a good idea to line up the row of bottles

I'll try not to get too technical. The larger the apature (smallest f number) the more shallow the depth of field is. Depth of field (DoF) is the sharpest area of focus, and it varies with the apature selected, and the focal length of the lens. Wider angle lenses will have a greater DoF than telephotos.

You did not say how far apart the bottles were, but I would suggest that you not only line them up, but also offset them so you have a diagonal row. Say 12 bottles two feet apart, and each bottle also 2 feet to the left or right of the previous one. Or you can stand at an angle to the bottles.

It will be easiest if you use manual focus. Set the camera into apature priority mode and select the smallest f number, and set the focal length of the lens to the widest view. Stand about 10 feet in front of the nearest bottle and focus on it. Then move the camera so this bottle is on one side of the frame and the others are in the frame. Take a shot, then without moving your position, apature or zoom, focus on the third bottle and frame the shot to include all of the bottles. Repeat for the 6th, 9th and last bottle. Then from the same position do it all again but this time with the zoom set about halfway, and again with the zoom set at the maximum. As you zoom in, you will not be able to get all of the bottles in the frame, but you ought to be able to see some difference in the sharpness of the various bottles in front of and behind the one you are focussing on when you compare all of the shots, so it will give you an idea of how the DoF changes.

If you can find a long straight fence somewhere you can do a similar excercise but will see what happens to things that are much further in front of and behind the bit you are focussing on.
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Old 19-10-2007, 19:19   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Focal aperture

Big thanks, guys.
It already helps a lot to see the silly paragraphs of my manual broken down to clear, manageable sentences.
Ill give it a try tomorrow, and since I just figured out how to upload pictures, I will be able to give you examples.
Cross fingers
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Old 21-10-2007, 20:59   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Focal aperture

Hi,
yesterday I took my camera out for a nice walk, and I have to say Im quite pleased with the outcome, even though I didnt get any closer to blurring my backgrounds. Im sure Im missing something though. I must have been in the wrong program, because I could only change the shutter speed, which sort of took the aperture along.
But I got closer to getting the sky right.
I love dramatic skies, and so pointed my camera up there every so often. But the pictures I got were hopelessly overexposed(?), meaning the sky was just white.
I had asked my Fuji-salesperson, whom I mistook for an expert. But he had a look at my camera and instantly praised me for having the ISO-setting absolutely right at the highest figures.
Can I add here that I had a mild stroke recently, and things do elude me at times. I really hadnt thought about the high ISO number I had set when I took photos off my TV. So I thanked the Fuji man for his invaluable help, left the shop, and dialled the setting down to a more probable 800.
The very blue photos I uploaded now were taken with even only 200, and they really please my eye. Only I think the surroundings get rather black at that setting.
And I must say the clouds arent as vivid as I would like them. Im having a pair of sun glasses that give real plasticity to the sky. I took a shot through them to illustrate what I mean.(Its in my gallery now.) Im thinking that would be the issue of polariser, wouldnt it?
I asked the Fuji man about filters that can do things like my glasses, but do I really have to spell it out that it was to no avail? He had no idea what I was talking about, but promised me to search the internet.
Next week I think Im gonna take my camera to a photographer I know. (He took all my passport pictures all through my life, and always complained I wasnt smiling) But he went to the same Waldorfschool like I and my whole family did, and that is always good to ask for a favor, even if one hasnt seen each other in twenty years. I hope he can figure out the setting of the aperture.
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Old 21-10-2007, 23:44   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Focal aperture

hmmmmm i think you need to go right back to the beginning of the manual with the camera sitting in front of you have a read through it.

you will find many helpful threads here, but im nto sure why he said u had the iso at the right setting.
the lower the light the higher the iso should be so that you can get as much use of ambient light as possible....

i would set the iso down to 100 or 200 at the most unless you are shooting in really low light.
set the camera to A on the dial which on fuji's is Aperture priority and by keeping to a wide aperture ( low f number e.g. 2.8, 3.5 etc) you shouhld start to acheive a blurred back ground.
Remember you will never get as shallow a DoF ( depth of Field) which is a nice blur using the camera u have as you will using a DSLR, so dont be down heartened if you start to get the blur then compare it against many shot on here and wonder why its not as blurry.

Hope all that makes sense as i havent actually read it back ! lol

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Old 22-10-2007, 13:05   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Focal aperture

Gee, thanks so much, Fi
I tried that setting, and blurred the background, and foreground in one picture too.
I figure my camera needs greater distance than the ittybitty spaces they have in the examples in the manual.This time I was two meters away from my object, and the background might be another 6 meters away.
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Old 22-10-2007, 15:55   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Focal aperture

hey at least u are on the right road now with acheiving some blur, this like a lot of other parts of phtoography is trial and error, the trick is remember to enjoy all the trials and errors cos they will all help you to learn!

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Old 22-10-2007, 17:19   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Focal aperture

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daisies View Post
I figure my camera needs greater distance than the ittybitty spaces they have in the examples in the manual.This time I was two meters away from my object, and the background might be another 6 meters away.
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If your subject is very close, the background doesn't have to be too far away, but the bigger the ratio between distance-to-subject and distance-to-background, the more blur you'll see.
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