Here is the fourth in a series of blog posts focused on photography for fiber artists. Material posted here goes along with the info covered in my workshops. If you’d like the eBook version with the whole series PLUS a bonus section I will have it available for download soon.
Depth of Field (Av Mode or Manually Setting Aperture)
Many digital cameras on the market today offer some sort of ability to modify your focus point and/or set your aperture value. If you are photographing people for portraits I would say that most of the time your goal is probably to focus on the eyes. If the eyes are in focus then your mind will usually interpret most of the face as being in focus even if its perhaps not quite. When photographing other objects such as fiber, yarn, & projects you have the ability to use artistic vision to emphasize certain areas of the image. The rule of thirds (described in another section) you use your camera’s focus point to define where you are focusing. To go further, know that for SLR cameras in particular, if you use zoom you will also be able to get more of that “blurred background” (depth of field.) On other cameras you may be able to achieve the same thing by physically moving closer to the object (if you don’t have zoom or are using a camera that will only allow you to focus on a whole scene.)
Describing more specifically dSLR cameras, I urge you to move away from the fully automatic mode and play around with other settings. Partial automatic modes on most cameras where you can set your own aperture is usually labeled as Av on a dial or button on the camera. By setting this yourself, the camera will figure out the shutter speed for you. Because the yarn or fiber is stationary (we HOPE!) the shutter speed is not really as vital in one regard because you don’t have to worry about camera blur unless you are working in very low light or have shaky hands. By setting your Av value to a smaller number, the camera lens will open up wider when the shot is taken and the point that has the focus will be sharper with the background more blurred (combine a lower aperture value with zoom for even more blur.) Below are examples of manually adjusting the aperture value along with using zoom and my viewfinder’s focal grid to focus on different areas of the image to emphasize specific parts of the image.