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This week, my schedule and the weather did not play well together. But I was determined not to miss this week’s assignment. So I punted and shot “on location” today in my back yard. (And I’m technically still posting on Sunday, with 19 minutes to spare. Yeah, it’s been that kind of week, preceded by that kind of month. Oh well, that’s life.) So, here we go…

Aperture Priority Mode – playing with depth of field:

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As you can see, when the aperture is large (small f-stop number) only a small portion of the photo (just the center of the flower) is in sharp focus. When the aperture is small (large f-stop number) the whole scene is in focus. (Remember the aperture diddy from last week? “The bigger the f-stop number, the smaller the hole. The smaller the hole, the larger the depth of field.” Everyone sing it with me now! ;-D) Notice how the larger aperture separates the subject (the part in focus) from the background (everything else) by making the background blurry? A handy trick when the background for your subject is ugly or distracting.

Shutter Priority Mode – freezing motion

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It took a little hunting to find something that would move (at least somewhat) consistently while I did this experiment. I finally settled on a pinwheel – or as my son says “spinwheel” (which makes more sense, actually) with the help of a fan (that you can see in the background).

Manual Mode – changing exposure with shutter speed

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This one is a bit subtle — keeping the aperture the same (f10), the shutter speed starts at 1/125, then decrease to 1/100 (longer time, more exposure) and then increased to 1/160 (shorter time, less exposure). I should have increased/decreased the shutter more than one stop so you could see the effects more dramatically. (I’ll remember that for next time…)

How did it go for you? Even if you prefer to stay in Program mode, I highly recommend learning what settings your camera allows you to change in that mode (ISO? Aperture?), so you know what control you have creating your photo. If it doesn’t give you the control you want, venture out into both Aperture and Shutter Priority modes. Even the pros use these modes sometimes when they need to work quickly and, due to the action of the subject or the changing light conditions, manual mode might not be as successful. Remember, at the end of the day – getting the shot matters more than how you got it. But most of all — have fun doing it!

And now week 5’s assignment: We get to delve into motion more this time. Ready?

1. Practice “panning” using shutter priority mode. Experiment with different shutter speeds and focal lengths.

2. Create a sense of motion – without panning – by keeping the camera still and adjusting the shutter speed until there’s a blurred effect that conveys a sense of motion. (As opposed to just looking blurry.)

Both of these techniques take a bit of practice — so have fun! And feel free to share your results. Plus… you get an extra week to practice, because looking at my calendar for the upcoming week, I know I’ll be needing two weeks for this assignment. (But I’ll post something fun for you to look at next Sunday – don’t worry.)

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