Behind the Scenes | "Getting Creative With Your Photographs" | Photos and Article by Stephen Fisher

A lot of photographers love to use the Automatic Mode setting on their camera. And why not? It’s easy…it’s fast…and for most of the time it produces great photos. Today’s cameras are so smart they usually make the right choices for us. But what if…

What if you want to start getting a bit more creative with your photography? You could always move that dial over to manual mode. Then you can control everything. Hmmm…maybe you’re really not feeling THAT creative!

Let me suggest trying something that’s not quite as extreme. Why not try moving the dial to Aperture Priority Mode? The aperture is the opening in the lens that controls Depth of Field (DOF). In it’s most basic definition, DOF is the amount of your photo that is in focus. You control DOF by changing the f-stop of the lens. Here’s an example:

As you can see in this photograph of some text, only a small portion in the center is in focus. Some of the foreground and background are out of focus. Having the ability to control the DOF will give you a LOT of creativity in your photos.

Sometimes you want a very shallow DOF in a photograph. Here are a couple of Great Egrets mates building a nest. I wanted these beautiful birds to be the “stars” in this image! I certainly didn’t want any distracting elements in the background to ruin this tender moment. To accomplish this, I used an f-stop of f/5.6. That f-stop allowed me to have both birds in focus without a busy background. (See image above)

The same scenario exited in this photograph of this egret coming back to its nest. All I wanted was this handsome bird to be in focus. I used an f-stop of f/4 to do this. It left me with a tack sharp bird and a nice creamy water background.  Just what I was looking for! (See image at the top)

Other times, you’ll want your entire photograph to be in focus. This is particularly true for landscapes. As you can see in this photograph of one of the bridges at the Rockport Beach Park, I wanted everything for the foreground to the horizon to be in focus. I used an f-stop of f/14 to do this.

Here’s another example of my wanting everything in focus. It was important to me that Aransas Bay and the clouds all are as sharp as possible. I used an f-stop of f/16 in this photograph.

Using Aperture Priority mode is easy and fun. It will give you a powerful tool to add more creativity to you photography. With a little practice working with the f-stop settings on your camera, you can really take your photography to the next level.

I would love to hear your comments and also answer your questions on this topic. Good shooting...

Stephen Fisher and his wife Sharon have lived in Rockport for almost 5 years. Stephen Is a full time nature photographer with gallery representations here in Rockport and in Corpus Christi. Their favorite question is “What took us so long to get here to Rockport?”

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