Some people really have their crap together, ya know? Or at least they seem to. Or at least they seem to squeeze a whole lot of stuff into their lives and enjoy it. Right now, the person that I’m slyly alluding to is Kate at Twenty-Six to Life. She’s been reorganizing her blog, adding pages, and making it look easy (it’s not- that stuff takes lots of time).

Anyway, she inspired me by posting about a free 12-weeks-to-better-photos class. You can download PDFs of each lesson, and the thing that hooked me is that each lesson truly takes like ten minutes! But then if you want you can continue to fiddle around for quite a while experimenting and trial-and-erroring.

I recommend you read Kate’s overview of Lesson 1: Aperture and/or download the lesson here. Basically, a wider aperture (lower f-stop number) means that more light will go in and less of your photo will be in focus. A smaller aperture (higher f-stop number) means that less light will go in and more of your photo will be in focus.

Here are my examples. I shot these in Aperture Priority (AV) mode, meaning essentially that the camera is figuring out everything besides aperture for me.

f-stop 4.5, ISO 400

f-stop 8.0, ISO 400

f-stop 29, ISO 400

If they all look the same to you, look again. See how much of the background is in focus in the last photo with the highest f-stop (and therefore most closed aperture)? In the first photo, you can’t see the detail of the zucchini and tomato plants or the fence.

Neat huh?

Here’s another one:

f-stop 4.5, ISO 400

f-stop 8.0, ISO 400

f-stop 29, ISO 400

Again, in the first photo, the flower is the star. By the time I get to an f-stop of 29, details like cars, the cracked cement, and other plants are competing with the flower.

A couple other notes:

  • My lens’ lowest aperture setting is 4.5, which is fine- you can still see the difference
  • I didn’t know how to check shutter speed, which is why it’s not listed. (But I do now!)
  • I’m lucky that Stan the Man likes photography and has a nice expensive camera for me to mess around with
  • Stan the Man also already knows all this stuff and is therefore a very handy tutor to have on hand. But these lessons are a really good starting point for me, then I can grill him with my questions to fill in any gaps. But if I didn’t have a Stan the Man, there is a wealth of information on the interweb.
  • You can take these lessons even if you don’t have an SLR!

I’m excited for the next lesson! Kate is doing a link-up party, so feel free to join us and then link up!

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