TIPS - TECHNIQUES - ADVICE

Photography Tips – How To Use Ambient Light And The Right F-Stop

If taking photographs outside and there are some great opportunities to get creative shots, but it seems too bright outside, there are things to do to ameliorate the sun as a problem. The f/Stop on the camera controls two aspects of the scene being captured; how much ambient light comes through the lens and hits the camera’s sensor, and what the depth of field is. That is, how much light not provided by camera equipment is being added to the scene and exactly how much of the scene is in focus. The main point of this tip is to learn how to use the f/Stop and direct sunlight in tandem to get an extremely interesting photographic result.

If taking photographs outside and there are some great opportunities to get creative shots, but it seems too bright outside, there are things to do to ameliorate the sun as a problem.  The f/Stop on the camera controls two aspects of the scene being captured; how much ambient light comes through the lens and hits the camera’s sensor, and what the depth of field is.  That is, how much light not provided by camera equipment is being added to the scene and exactly how much of the scene is in focus.  The main point of this tip is to learn how to use the f/Stop and direct sunlight in tandem to get an extremely interesting photographic result.

Important Rule – Less F, More Light

What was first learned with f/Stop was the smaller the number, the more light the lens let in and vice bersa.  The “f” stands for fraction, so an f/Stop of 4 gives an aperture of ¼ the focal length of the lens being used.  This is why the smaller the number, the more ambient light is let in, because the number of the f/stop is the denominator of a fraction.  The f/stop and  other types of gadgets making cameras a bit less bulky to carry, as well as easier to use, came about so photographers would be able to choose from several different apertures and focal lengths without having to carry around a different lens for each one.  This made is a bit easier to get several different shots of the same subject in less time, lugging around less bukly equipment.

If the amount of ambient light needs to be reduced when the photograph is being taken in direct sunlight, the ambient light must be reduced as much as necessary to give the proper exposure and the desired effect on the subject.  In order to achieve this goal, change the f/Stop to a larger number, like 11, and take test shots each time the f/Stop increment is changed to the next number up.  These test shots will show what effect each number has on the shot.

If using a telephoto lens, a larger f/stop number will allow more of the photograph to be in focus, meaning that the subject of the photo as well as most of the environmental surroundings will be in focus, rather than if the smallest f/Stop number is used, letting in as much ambient light as possible.  Generally, this will make the subject in focus, while the environment surrounding the subject will be a bit fuzzy.  It all depends on the look that is wanted for the particular photograph being taken.

Play around with the f/Stop and test shot technique and all sorts of applications will be discovered for it.  Set the f/Stop at 22 and remove almost all of the ambient light, and then add a flash to make it appear the image was taken at night.  When doing this, the shutter speed might also have to bee tweaked to get everything dialed in just the way it is supposed to be.

…enjoy,

Ray Baker