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So You Wanna Take Better Pictures Part 2: What is aperture?

5 Jul

For the first How To in this series see So You Wanna Take Better Pictures.

What is aperture?

Aperture: a circular opening that limits the amount of light that can enter and expose the film/sensor.

The aperture size determines the amount of light that is allowed to reach the sensor. We know aperture in F-stops. The smaller the F-stop number then the larger the lens opening (aperture). So an aperture f/2.8 allows more light to reach the sensor than f/5.6 and f/5.6 allows more light than f/22. This can be a little confusing as the bigger the number equals less the light.

Quiz time!

Say that you have a lens and the aperture range is f/1.4 to f/16.

What is the maximum aperture size?
What is the minimum aperture size?

If you answered that f/1.4 is the maximum size and f/16 is the minimum then you score a gazillion gold stars! Why you ask? Because f/1.4 allows the most light (large aperture) and f/16 allows less light (small aperture).

You want to take a picture of Timmy so that he is the only thing in focus and the background is blurred. You can accomplish this with a large aperture. The smaller the number then the larger the aperture size. So an aperture of f/2 will give you that blurry background while Timmy is in focus.

Jane and Rover are playing on a hill and you want all of the picture to be in focus. What aperture size will produce this outcome? A small aperture you say? Another gold star! You select f/16 and grab a clear shot of the bushes, Jane, Rover and the beautiful trees behind them.

Below is an example of an f/3.5 aperture and an f/22 aperture as well as the same picture taken with each. Do you see the differences?





Next we’ll discuss Depth of Field which is directly related to the aperture size.

Got it? Let’s try it and let me know if you have questions or need a little assistance!

traci-marie Rogers
traci-marie Photography

Try It Exercise:
1) Set your camera to Aperture Priority Mode. You will be able to select the aperture to use and the camera will select the shutter speed
2) Find a stationary well lit object that you want to photograph (something near a window or under shade)
3) Set your aperture to f/2 (large aperture) and snap a picture (if you do not have this aperture then select f/3.5)
4) Set your aperture to f/8 (medium aperture) and snap the same picture
5) Set your aperture to f/22 (small aperture) and snap the same picture
6) Look through each image to view the difference between each. Notice what is in focus between each.

What did you find?

Glossary for this lesson:

Aperture: an opening, such as a hole or slit; in a camera, a circular opening that limits the amount of light that can enter and expose the film.

Depth of Field: the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image.

Shutter Speed: the rate at which the aperture of a camera opens and closes to let in light and expose the film.

Photographing Fireworks

4 Jul

Today is July 4th and with that comes fireworks – lots and lots of fireworks.  Are you interested in photographing fireworks?  There are a few things that you need to know.

  1. Use a tripod.  You need this to hold your camera steady because you will be using a long shutter speed to catch the burst and the tails.
  2. Remote shutter release. You have to press the button on your camera to take the picture but you just press a button with a shutter release and this will help keep your camera still.  You may also use the timer but this is harder to time shots and frame your pictures.

    Photo by

  3. Frame your picture.  Don’t just point the camera at the sky and shoot away.  Capture the sea of people watching the fireworks, the lake the fireworks reflect in or the beautiful mountains scaping the scene.  If you do not have any of these then look around and there will be something interesting.  There always is.
  4. Aperture. What aperture?  Begin with an aperture of f/8 to f/16  but if the shots are too dark then go to f/5.6 and open up from there.  But before you do that – bump up your ISO.
  5. ISO. What ISO?  Begin shooting at ISO 100 but if that doesn’t work for you then begin to increase your ISO.  Be careful when increasing ISO as the higher the ISO the more grain will be visible in your pictures.
  6. Shutter Speed. What Shutter Speed?  Set your camera to M for Manual.  Then use your ISO scroll to select Bulb or B.  This is bulb mode.  This mode is great for long exposures in the dark.  The shutter stays open as long as you press the shutter release button.  This is where your shutter release comes in.  It’s near impossible to hold a camera for a long length of time with the shutter release open without camera shake.
  7. Check your pictures after a few shots.  You may be missing a few explosions but checking your progress will ensure that if you make a mistake then you can correct it.
  8. Practice makes perfect!  The more you do something then the better you get at it.
  9. HAVE FUN!!!!

I would love to see what you capture!  So link in the comments or post on my Facebook page.

So you wanna take better pictures?

30 Nov

DSC_4726You want to take better images of Timmy, Jane or Rover but how do you do it?

You have your eye on that snazzy DSLR that is on sale but how do you use it?

I know you want to whip your camera around and take a crazy rapid burst of shutter clicks but refrain from picking up your camera and read this series first. Trust me – I know it’s difficult because your index finger is itching to snap away but trust me – this will be beneficial in the end! You can thank me later.

Understanding photography is not easy and it can be confusing. You will need to read this over and over to truly grasp how each of these work and then play with your camera settings to get a solid understanding of it. If you think you will learn photography in a day, a week, a month then I’m here to tell you that is not going to happen. Have patience, you will get better but you are not going to be shooting like Jerry Ghionis in 30 days.

Do you wonder what makes a great photo of Timmy? How that background gets blurred while cute Jane stays in focus. Why is Rover off center? We will tackle these questions but we’re going to do it in segments to let this information soak in and allow you to practice what we learn.

What are we going to discuss? We’re going to discuss each of the items listed below and how they relate to each other to capture those stunning images so we can spam everyone on Facebook, Tweet to the world and share Timmy, Jane and Rover with Great Aunt Thelma once removed.
Once we have the basics down. We’re going to learn to shoot the fun stuff like Christmas lights, Christmas trees and holiday shenanigans. But first things first – what is ISO????

Most consumer cameras have an ISO range of 200 – 1600. What does this mean? ISO stands for International Standards Organization which is a scale for measuring sensitivity to light. A 200 ISO setting will be less sensitive than a 1600 setting.

If you are outside in sunlight then you will most likely want to use a 200 ISO setting. If you are indoors then you increase your ISO setting to allow more light to enter the camera.

There is a tradeoff for increasing your ISO. A higher ISO means the more grain that will be visible in your image.

Higher ISO will benefit you when you need a fast shutter speed but your aperture is wide open. What does this mean? This statement will make more sense as we go along but high level – shutter speed controls how quickly the shutter opens and closes. Aperture controls how much light the camera lets in. So a higher ISO (more sensitive to light) allows you to take a picture in low light when your aperture is wide open and you need a fast shutter speed (stops movement, eliminates blur).

Got it? Let’s try it and let me know if you have questions or need a little assistance!

traci-marie Rogers
traci-marie Photography

Try It Exercise:
1) Find a stationary well lit object that you want to photograph (something near a window or under shade)
2) Set your camera to Automatic
3) Set your ISO to 200 then take your picture
4) Set your ISO to 1600 then take your picture
5) Compare the pictures
6) What did you find?

Glossary for this lesson:

Aperture: an opening, such as a hole or slit; in a camera, a circular opening that limits the amount of light that can enter and expose the film.

DSLR: digital single-lens reflex camera

ISO: International Standards Organization which is a scale for measuring sensitivity to light.

Patience: the ability to endure waiting, delay, or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset, or to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties.

Shutter Speed: the rate at which the aperture of a camera opens and closes to let in light and expose the ‘film’.

Bring Back the Memories!

14 Jul

Photos are a great way to share your travels with family and friends! Before you start snapping away, take a moment to read the below tips.

Night image of rescue boats from suite balcony on a cruise ship

An interesting night shot of rescue boats taken from the balcony suite of a cruise ship

Tip #1: Plan ahead! Make sure your camera is in good working order before you go, and pack plenty of batteries! You’re going to want to be able to take pictures of everything interesting or beautiful you see, so remember to bring plenty of film/memory cards. And most importantly, plan to have your camera easily accessible! A water and shock resistant case is recommended, but a padded, insulated lunch container works wonderfully as well, and is much less likely to be stolen than a fancy camera bag!

Tip #2: Get in Close! When taking pictures of people, don’t make the mistake of standing too far away. Get close so you can see the expressions on your subjects faces! Zoom in on individuals or capture them from the waist up (also called a 3/4 shot). When photographing individuals against a grand landscape, take some pictures from far away and some up close as well!

Tip #3: Capture the Essence! Everyone loves panoramic scenes and major landmarks, so you’ll definitely want plenty of those. But try to capture the simplicity of the location as well. Try snapping a photo of a brightly colored flower box hanging from the shuttered window of an old Colonial, or the old mailbox at the end of a long, dusty driveway. Chances are it will be more compelling than if you shot the complete scene, like the entire house, lawn, driveway, etc. Focus on the details and you’ll capture the true essence of the location!

Tip #4: Tell a story! Let your pictures tell a story by creating a visual diary of your trip. Include street scenes, interesting signs, menus, and people you see along the way. Don’t be afraid to use an interesting angle rather than simply head-on shots only. Pictures are often more interesting when you can catch people in candid, un-posed moments, so keep your camera handy and let the camera tell your story!

Have a great trip… and don’t forget to make extra copies of your great pictures to share!

Moms Can Shoot Photography Classes

29 May

Mom, most of the images of your child are taken by you.  You want to look back at your photos and remember the fun, the laughs, the love you felt that day instead of wishing your composition looked better, your exposure was cleaner and remembering the frustration of trying to capture the shot.  Or worse – you missed the shot because the image is blurry or over exposed.

A Mom’s Can Shoot private individual or group class will help you capture the images you will be proud to display at your baby’s Senior Graduation party!  Schedule a class with a group of friends for a mom’s night out at a friend’s house or a day of learning while the kids are at school.

We’ll cover:
-10 Tips for Taking Better Pictures of Your Kids
-Introduction to Exposure
-Shutter Speed
-Training Wheels
-Using your Camera’s Basic Settings
-Lens Overview

The group class is $100 per person with a minimum of three participants.  The class lasts for 3 hours for 3-5 moms, and can be extended to 4 hours for 6-8 moms (to allot for extra time to answer questions that may come up for a larger group size).

Each mom receives a handout, print supplier information and a list of fun and interesting locations to shoot in the Houston area.

This class can be modified to appeal to dads, teens and children.

traci-marie Photography is also available to speak at mom group meetings.

Contact me for additional details.  I look forward to hearing from all of you moms and Happy Shooting!

Don’t Get Burned!!

28 May

Don’t Get Burned this Summer!

Summer is a time of travel, beach outings and backyard barbecues! If you’re going to photograph your adventures, you are going to need to keep your camera equipment safe from summer threats, the most common being: heat, water, sand, and other people!

Heat:  While you are drinking plenty of water and keeping yourself cool and hydrated, your film (if you use it) and camera should also be kept at an even temperature. Exposing your equipment to direct sunlight and strong heat will cause them to malfunction and can also cause irreversible damage. Keep your camera and camera equipment out of the heat!

Water and Sand:  Water and sand can be fun to play in, but it will wreak havoc on your camera! If water or sand gets in your camera or lenses, stop using them immediately and get them professionally cleaned. And remember, you don’t have to be ON sand or IN water to be a victim of it. Wind can blow it on your camera. For this reason, when around water and sand, its best to have and use a good camera bag!

Other People:  Thieves will watch, follow, and then steal unattended camera gear if the opportunity presents itself. Do not fall victim to thieves! If you must leave your camera in your car, keep it out of site by putting it in the trunk, or in an inexpensive or beaten up cooler or duffel. When flying, carry on as much photo gear as the airlines will allow!

Photos are a very personal and important part of your life… and you can’t be too cautious when it comes to keeping your camera equipment safe! Whether on vacation or just having fun in your own backyard, taking small steps to insure the safety of your investment will truly pay off!

Father’s Day Photography Gift: Gift of Memories

13 May
Father’s Day is just around the corner!

Mom, surprise him this Father’s Day with a Daddy & Me portrait session at traci-marie Photography.  Let us chronicle the joy of fatherhood and create memories Dad will love to look back on.

Father’s Day is June 20th, 2010!

Call 281-221-2245 or email today to schedule a session.

traci-marie Photography