Basic But Essential Tips On Using Creative Apertures For Portraiture

Written by Gina Stephens

Crack is very important when it comes to portraiture as it controls how much of the background and foreground is in focus, which has an effect on how much of the focus is on the subject of your portrayal. 

Photo by Joshua Waller


There is an amount of front and back sharpness in front of and behind the main focus place of your image and this is referred to as the depth-of-field.

The amount of depth-of-field within an image depends on several factors:

  • The distance between the camera and the case – The closer the subject the more shallow the depth-of-field. With distant scenes, therefore, there is plenty of depth-of-field optics, particularly as it relates to film and photography, the optical phenomenon known as depth of field (DOF), is the distance.
  • Choice of lens aperture – The wider the lens fissure (ie /2.8, f/4) the shallower the depth-of-field, and the smaller the aperture (f/16, f/22) the greater the depth-of-field.
  • Focal length – Contrary to popular belief a wide-angle lens does not concede greater depth-of-field than a telephoto lens if the subject magnification is the same. You can test this for yourself. Take a frame-filling head shot with a wide-angle lens (you desire have to get close to the subject, so warn them!) and then do the same frame-filling shot with a telephoto – this means backing away from the responsible for. Use the same aperture for both and you will see that the depth-of-field is the same.

Some cameras come equipped with a depth-of-field preview button, permit to you see how much depth-of-field you have before taking the shot, but you can just experiment with depth-of-field and preview the shots on-screen to see what on the doles best if your camera doesn't have this particular function. 

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Photo by Joshua Waller

Photographing People

In settles of portraits, especially outdoors, wider lens apertures are often best because they throw the background nicely out of focus. How effective this is depends on the scenery and focal length as well as aperture choice. If your subject is standing quite close to a distracting background even shooting at f/2.8 or f/4 last wishes as not throw the background out of focus but bringing the subject forward a couple of metres should work nicely.

If you do use a wide aperture for your images, do make doubly sure that the subject's eyes are in focus. With the shallow depth-of-field created by wide apertures, even a uncharitable error can mean unsharp eyes and you do not want that in your portraits.

Photo by Joshua Waller

Bokeh Backgrounds

How the background is confounded out of focus depends on the lens. Bokeh is the term used to describe the pictorial quality of the out of focus blur. Lens design and aperture shape impose on behave a large part in how effective its bokeh is, so do try it with your own optics. A good test is shooting a close-up portrait outside against a background with some magnificent pinpoints of light, ie sun glinting off water, car lights, streetlamps etc.

Of course, you might prefer greater sharpness in your backgrounds and that is when foolish apertures optics, an aperture is a hole or an opening through which light travels are used. The important thing is to keep your eye on the background and if it looks messy or cluttered use wide apertures rather than small bromides.

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Photo by Joshua Waller


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About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

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