Photography Tips for Paper Crafters - Aperture and Bokeh

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Let's talk about the terms "aperture, shutter speed and ISO."

All three of these camera settings are interconnected and play a major role in determining the final appearance of your photo. This article will focus on how aperture affects bokeh (or "background blur").

What is Bokeh?

In photography, bokeh is the blur,or the aesthetic quality of the blur, in out-of-focus areas of an image. (source: Wikipedia). The image above features the tea pot from our Tea For You and Me SVG Kit and was taken using various aperture values. As you can see, the lower the aperture value, the more blur. How much blur is best? That is completely up to you and your artistic vision. :)

Bokeh Tips and Tricks

  • If you are not comfortable shooting in manual mode and want to try this right away, turn your camera's dial to Aperture Priority (Av on Canon and A on Nikon) and set your aperture to the lowest value possible (1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6). Aperture priority forces your camera to take a photograph using the aperture you specify. The camera will then automatically adjust the shutter speed and ISO in order to properly expose the photo. (Hey, you are two steps away from shooting in manual mode!)
  • Remember, lower aperture values equal more blur! Note: It's possible to have too much blur, especially when shooting small objects. Take your shot and see if you like the level of blur. If it's too out-of-focus, increase the aperture value and shoot again!
  • If you have your aperture value set as low as it goes and you're still not happy with the blur, create more space between the background and your subject (by physically moving the subject away from the background) and shoot again.

Some recommended affordable lenses

  • Nikon 50mm f/1.8D
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.8G
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8

Keep in mind that some lenses don't go as low as 1.4 or even 2.8. Low aperture values are normally found in more expensive lenses. You'll rarely find these lenses bundled with cameras because of the cost involved in producing them. When you buy a camera with a bundled lens, don't expect that lens to be amazing. Most experienced photographers would recommend buying ONLY a camera body and purchasing a lens separately.

18 Responses to “Photography Tips for Paper Crafters - Aperture and Bokeh”

  1. Klaher May 22, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    Awesome tut! It is soo hard to remember all these aperature tricks. I keep a small notepad with my camera bag with tips. I’m adding this one! I’m creative behind the lens BUT I don’t know how to get what I want. I really just get lucky mostly!

  2. Lisa J May 22, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    Another great one Leo! I’m learning so much! Maybe I can change my hate/hate relationship with my Nikon into at least a love/hate! 

  3. Rebecca Morefield-Wagner May 22, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    I lucked out and found a Canon 50mm f/1.8 at Best Buy for just a hair over $100.  It has a plastic housing but since I just really use it for pictures for my craft blog it’s fine.  I, like you, prefer the f/2.8 or f/3.2.  Gives just the right amount of blur for  my projects.

    Thanks for sharing your photography experience!  You break it down nicely.

  4. Suzy-Sunshine May 23, 2012 at 3:12 am #

    A nicely succinct and informative post… thanks a ton. I am looking to improve my handling of different light situations and I’d love some help on that too pretty please? Maybe some comments when you cover the lenses? Also in the process of looking to either add new lenses or switch system entirely even, and I am very nervous about this investment!

    @c379141b9985f74226320c281b9318a3:disqus I tend to be an “experiential learner” too LOL. If you have a photo editing or organizing software, try looking at the file specifications. Your digital camera will add lots of really good info onto the file of your photo that you can use to learn what went right or wrong. I use Picasa for file organizing and it allows you to see this easily and you can tag them with notes too. :) It is free throught Google BTW

  5. MichelleMyBelle May 23, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    great post Leo!

  6. Amy (Aimitup) May 23, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    Great tutorial Leo ~ love how you showed the visual of the different apertures for us “visual” people. Well done on the explanation and tips!

  7. Scrappinvt May 24, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Leo you are doing a fantastic job with these tuts! The amazing thing is I actually understand what you are saying. Can’t wait for the next installment.

  8. Lisa J May 25, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    Now to pull out da book and see how to go into “manual” mode! LOL

  9. Scraps2treasure - Monica June 21, 2012 at 5:52 am #

    Awesome article I have an Olympus Evolt-500 does this work roughly the same way for my camera.  I

  10. Shellye June 25, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    Ah-Ha!  Love the rotation of photos;  very helpful to see it this way.  Wonderful tutorial, Leo…thanks!

  11. Photography June 27, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

    This is a best photography tips for paper crafters. Those all result of camera really wonderful.  The amazing thing is I actually understand what you are saying.  I also can not wait for the next installment.

  12. Theresa August 23, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Love that you post these forums Leo as always you guys are top notch!

  13. Kate September 4, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    Thanks for the easy to understand info, it was a Great lesson! I can’t wait for more.

  14. Mary Jo October 5, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    Awesome instructions, I cannot wait to learn more! Marv got us a D3200 Nikon and we are having all sorts of fun with it. The soccer photos were awesome this fall. Thanks for all you do to help all of us! mj

  15. Ava G October 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    thanks for the photo tip
    ava g

  16. Paula Gale January 7, 2013 at 8:02 am #

    Hi Leo

    this is a great tutorial – everything you have said in this one post has put what my dad always tried to teach me, into perspective (no pun intended). He had a completely manual ISO camera way before the digital versions came out – and I now understand what he was trying to tell me – but to be fair – he wouldn’t have been able to show me the difference without having to wait days to have a 35mm film developed…

    I absolutely LOVE SVG cuts because the amount of detail you guys give us has got to make this site the most value for money place to purchase our cut files. No one gives us the amount of help you give – you cover all bases and for all learning styles. Thank you so very very much for that – this is why I purchase what I can from you.

    Paula. (England)

  17. Dee January 22, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

    Good tutorial – I guess I too have been lucky doing this without really understanding what I was doing. Looking forward to the next installments.

  18. Taylor February 27, 2014 at 8:55 am #

    These tips are AWESOME!!! Super helpful for sure…I am absolutely looking forward to your next installment. You made this very easy to understand. I have invested in a good camera recently, so all your tips and tricks are especially appreciated, because I will learn to use all the FAB features that it has and take FAB photos too. Thank you sooo much!!! Taylor