Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Shooting wide open

I've heard from many many photographers that their preference is to shoot wide open. What does this mean you may ask? Well it simply means setting your lens to the lowest f/stop or the lowest aperture. It can be a little confusing at first because when you hear the term 'wide open' you normaly think big, bigger number. But in a lens case, they call it 'wide open' because the lower you set your aperture or f/stop, the wider the opening inside the lens gets, letting in more light.

There is a con to this though. The lower the f/stop, the more blur you get, which can be good for close up shots or if you want to focus on something small. I also think this works beautiful on eyes because the eyes can be tact sharp and the rest is blury, making the eyes really pop. I love the background blur you get as well from shooting wide open. However, if you are shooting from a distance, or a group of people for that matter, having your f/stop to the lowest is not your best bet, in my opinion. You will have some people sharp and others a bit blury because your focus point is only covering a smaller area.

There's also the plane of field to remember. This means that if everyone in your group are not sitting or standing in the same plane, some will be sharp and others, well, not so sharp. Here's an example to show you what I mean by that:

Shutter speed:1/500

ISO: 320

Aperture: f/2.0

Here is a photo, from left to right, of Chivonne, Chanel and Raquel. I shot this at 2.0 which you'd think everyone should be in focus, but as you can see, Raquel is slightly blurry. Why? Because she isn't really in the same plane of field as Chivonne and Chanel are. She is sitting slightly forward. You can also see that she isn't looking at the camera dead on like the other two are. Her position is slightly shifted to the right, therefore, her left eye is blurrier. If I shot this at a higher f stop, Raquel would have probably been in focus too.

Here's the pros and a really good example about the awesomeness of shooting wide open:

Shutter speed: 1/320
ISO: 400
Aperture: f/1.8

Dozer's eyes are in the same plane of field, therefore, they are both sharp! And look how everything else is beautifully blurred and soft. It really makes the eyes pop.

I love shooting wide open most of the time because it creates such a nice background blur, and I love that, but sometimes, I have to take it up a few f/stops to get everyone in the bunch looking sharp :) Remember, if you have people sitting in different planes of fields, you want to have a bigger f/stop number to get eveyone looking their best :) Well this is what I have come to learn and wanted to put it down in writing b/c my blog has a better memory than I do. I also hope this helps someone know a little bit more about aperture and plane of field.

Happy Tuesday!


moraima (mo-RYE-mah) said...

ohh and how i love my 1.8 :-D

Gustavo Ortega said...


I just wanted to say thanx for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. Keep up the great work ur doing!