Sunday, September 16, 2007

Wild Roses, and Depth of Field

I took a ton of flower pictures this summer, because I love flowers, and because there were so many. Northeast New Mexico has been in a drought for a long time, at least as long as I can remember. This past year, however, was really wet, and some of the old-timers think this is going to keep up for at least the next few years. *crosses fingers* That would be excellent, if true. Enough water means so many good things for the region, including great flowers! We had more wildflowers this summer than I've seen in ten years of going to Philmont, and luckily I had my sweet new camera to capture them.

Over the course of this blog, you'll probably see most of the good ones (or you can go check them out on Flickr...see the sidebar badge), but for now, here are two pictures of the same flower, a wild rose, and a mini-photography lesson.

Disclaimer: I know very very little about photography. But I am capable of reading (thank goodness) and am teaching myself, little by little. To learn more, click here and here.

Ok. Back to the photos:

Do you see the difference? In the top photo, the petals are in focus. In the bottom one, the stamens are. I like the bottom one better, because...well, I don't really know why, I just do. This is one of the things I really like about my D40, is that I have control over where to focus. I also have control over depth of field.

Now, up until about three days ago, I didn't really understand depth of field or aperture settings or how they are connected. I always got shutter speed, because that makes sense to me. (The faster the speed, the less light comes in, the darker the pictures. And vice versa.) I shot on S a lot, and let the camera control aperture. I had a vague idea that aperture had to do with how wide the lens opened to let in light, but didn't really understand how that made a difference. I decided that I should probably learn. I found these two great articles (one and two) and they made a ton of sense. I also liked the Wikipedia article on aperture because it explains the math. (Yay math!)

Which got me thinking about the flower pics. I reckoned that the aperture must have been set very wide (which corresponds to a low number...) to get such a shallow depth of field that I could have either the petals or the stamens in focus, but not both. So I zipped over to Flickr and checked out the Exif data (for some reason I prefer to look at it on Flickr instead of on my computer...don't ask me why...), and sure enough, the aperture for both was f/5.3, which is close to the max for my lens at that zoom level. This means the lens opened really wide to let in a lot of light, and, as I suspected, made the depth of field very shallow. Cool!

I hope you enjoyed this mini-lesson, and that it made sense. Please feel free to comment and let me know other cool things about aperture, depth of field, wild roses, etc. (Also, please let me know (kindly!) if I have said anything incorrect.) Ooh, and if you know how to blog multiple Flickr photos into one post (I can only figure out how to get one photo in the post using 'blog this'), please please let me know!

Thanks y'all! Have a great week! =)
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