Good Morning Everybody
Our bags are packed and we're ready to go, off to Vegas for the WPPI show.... - sung to the tune of "Leaving On A Jet Plane". That's right gang, LaDawn and I are ready to head west over the weekend. If you are planning to attend this GREAT Convention, plan to look me up 8:00 a.m. Monday morning in rooms 319-320. I'll be the one with the BIG cup of coffee. Hope to see you there.
Well, I'm out of camera equipment in the gear bag. I still have lighting equipment to explain, but I'm holding off for a week or two. Today I thought I'd talk F-Stops - when to use them and why. And today's F-Stop is......
Hi, I'm F-4.0 And I'm Happy To Meet You
F4.0 and I have been friends for quite a while. When I was shooting film, I dated F4.0's cousin F5.6, but since going digital I had to let the old girl go and see if I had a chance with F4.0. As luck would have it, F4.0 was perfect on my DSLR. In fact F4.0 was just as good as F5.6 was on my ol' 150mm Sonnar on my Hassey! OK, is this making any sense to anybody yet? Here is the deal.
Hit the "Read More..." link below for the rest of the story and images.
Back in my medium format days when shooting portraits, I always used my 150mm Sonnar lens. The maximum aperture was F4.0 and I NEVER wanted to use the maximum aperture of F4.0. I was a "focus freak" and thought shooting wide open would compromise the sharpness of the final print. Anyway, F5.6 gave me a really nice result with nice separation of the subject from the background - assuming, of course, the background was far enough behind the subject. All was well with the world till I switched to "digital" the later part of 2000.
Now what do I do to get the same visual effect as I was getting with my trusty 150mm Sonnar? The easy answer was - get a slightly longer lens and shoot it wider open - like at F4.0. After doing some testing, I found the "Magic Bullet" of a beautiful outdoor portrait was about 125mm to 200mm lens at F4.0 on my DSLR - I was back in business. I once again had great background separation of the subject from the background. That focal length/F-stop combo are now my default settings when ever I shoot a portrait outdoors.
There is the occasional exception, but that usually has to do with shooting in a brighter ambient light situation where I need to stop the lens to F5.6 - Yes, you can tell the difference, it's simply not as pretty.
Remember too, I'm using an off-camera flash to create my direction of light. You know, life is just easier when you add your own light. That's why I do it. But back to my friend, F4.0. F4.0 or at least within 1/2 stop either way - F3.5 to F5.0 at about 150mm is the magic recipe creating a beautiful result. You know, if you stop down too much, the background comes into sharper focus pulling the viewers attention from the subjects. Look at the images accompanying this post. This is exactly the separation I want - the wider aperture forces the viewers attention right to the sharply focused subject with the soft background receding gently in the scene.
Too many photographers are afraid to shoot at the wider aperture causing the background to come into sharper focus which then competes for attention with the subject. Back in my early film days, I had to practice focusing at the wider apertures to be sure I was sharp on the subjects. Today, there is nothing to it with the auto focus cameras we have available.
So my advice, don't be afraid to shoot at a wider aperture. Give F4.0 a try. I promise, you will love the result.
Hey gang, that's it for me today - bags to pack and planes to catch - See ya' in Las Vegas next week. And just remember while you're in Vegas , keep your pixels away from the slot machines and you'll have more fun at the trade show;~) See ya' there, -David