Legal advice and aperture value

A reader e-mailed me asking how I blur some parts of the photos in my food blog. I responded by saying, “By setting the aperture value between f/1.8 to f/2.2, depending on how blurry I want the background.” Actually, when I have the luxury of time (which is rare), I take more than one photo of a subject, using different settings with each photo. Then, after downloading the photos to my computer, I choose in which setting the subject looks best and that’s what I post.

But the really interesting thing about the question is how good it made me feel. I was being asked about my phtography instead of the usual I want to leave my husband/wife, and I want an annulment, can you please advise me on how to go about it stuff. Often, the plea for advice is peppered with questions about how the properties will be divided and who gets what. After years of being a blogger and having announced to the world wide web that I am a lawyer, that’s the kind of stuff I often get. And I often respond with the stock answer that I’m retired but I can refer them to a lawyer if they want one.

The problem is most don’t want to hire a lawyer — they just want free legal advice. And I don’t want to do that for many reasons. One, I don’t have a lot of free time. Two, my time is valuable. Three, most people don’t tell you all the facts, just their version of the facts (where the one seeking advice is always the blameless and aggrieved party), and giving legal advice based on incomplete facts often leads to disastrous results where the lawyer usually gets blamed for giving the wrong advice.

People ought to know that a legal advice is only as good as the facts the lawyer has and the opportunity afforded him or her to study them. E-mails and blog comments just don’t provide that. That’s really one reason why I never reproduced the old blog entries — the 4000 something entries from sassylawyer.com. There’s just too much in them that makes people think they’re invitations to ask for free legal advice. Sorry, really, but dispensing legal advice is not something done casually. Not by me, anyway.

So, when I get questions about photography stuff, I feel like jumping for joy because it’s another step away from the free legal advice stuff on the web. Blurring backgrounds? Many factors can lead to blurred backgrounds. Except the unintentional blurring caused by camera shake, the way to control the amount of background blur (sometimes called washout) is to pay attention to the aperture value vis a vis the depth of field and shutter speed. It doesn’t matter if you’re not using a dSLR camera. The newer models of point-and-shoot cams have Manual and AV (Apreture Priority) settings. Where the aperture value can be set depends on what camera you use so I can’t help you with that. You need to familiarize yourself with your camera’s features and capabilities.

I have here a set of 18 photos of two refrigerator magnets (bought at Kultura Filipino in case you’re interested). All were taken with the Canon EOS 40D using a 50mm f/1.8 lens. The photos were taken with different aperture values which are indicated below each one.

casaveneracion.com Camera: Canon EOS 40D, Lens: 50mm f/1.8, Aperture value: f/1.8

The first one was taken with an aperture value of f/1.8. The focal point was on the right eye of the figure with the hat (his name is Totoy, if you must know). Now pay attention to the figure with the basket (Nene, her name is) in the succeeding photos) and watch the blur lessen without shifting the focal point but only by changing the aperture value.

casaveneracion.com Camera: Canon EOS 40D, Lens: 50mm f/1.8, Aperture value: f/2.0

Aperture value: f/2.0

casaveneracion.com Camera: Canon EOS 40D, Lens: 50mm f/1.8, Aperture value: f/2.2

Aperture value: f/2.2

casaveneracion.com Camera: Canon EOS 40D, Lens: 50mm f/1.8, Aperture value: f/2.5

Aperture value: f/2.5

casaveneracion.com Camera: Canon EOS 40D, Lens: 50mm f/1.8, Aperture value: f/2.8

Aperture value: f/2.8

casaveneracion.com Camera: Canon EOS 40D, Lens: 50mm f/1.8, Aperture value: f/3.2

Aperture value: f/3.2

casaveneracion.com Camera: Canon EOS 40D, Lens: 50mm f/1.8, Aperture value: f/3.5

Aperture value: f/3.5

casaveneracion.com Camera: Canon EOS 40D, Lens: 50mm f/1.8, Aperture value: f/4.0

Aperture value: f/4.0

casaveneracion.com Camera: Canon EOS 40D, Lens: 50mm f/1.8, Aperture value: f/4.5

Aperture value: f/4.5

casaveneracion.com Camera: Canon EOS 40D, Lens: 50mm f/1.8, Aperture value: f/5.0

Aperture value: f/5.0

casaveneracion.com Camera: Canon EOS 40D, Lens: 50mm f/1.8, Aperture value: f/5.6

Aperture value: f/5.6

casaveneracion.com Camera: Canon EOS 40D, Lens: 50mm f/1.8, Aperture value: f/6.3

Aperture value: f/6.3

casaveneracion.com Camera: Canon EOS 40D, Lens: 50mm f/1.8, Aperture value: f/7.1

Aperture value: f/7.1

casaveneracion.com Camera: Canon EOS 40D, Lens: 50mm f/1.8, Aperture value: f/8.0

Aperture value: f/8.0

casaveneracion.com Camera: Canon EOS 40D, Lens: 50mm f/1.8, Aperture value: f/9.0

Aperture value: f/9.0

casaveneracion.com Camera: Canon EOS 40D, Lens: 50mm f/1.8, Aperture value: f/10.0

Aperture value: f/10.0

casaveneracion.com Camera: Canon EOS 40D, Lens: 50mm f/1.8, Aperture value: f/11.0

Aperture value: f/11.00

casaveneracion.com Camera: Canon EOS 40D, Lens: 50mm f/1.8, Aperture value: f/12.0

Aperture value: f/12.0

Isn’t that better than delivering a litany about what aperture value means and making your head ache with technical terms? A picture is worth a thousand words; 18 pictures are worth 18,000. :) Now, perhaps, you may want to read about bokeh.

Comments

  1. says

    E sassy… how do I go about suing this person who… hehe Joke lang po!

    I haven’t fully read the manual of my canon powershot, liit lang. I bought it coz the reviews say it takes good macro. Being all gungho I thought it would a cinch to use & blur the background/foreground… I still haven’t gotten used to it. I know RTFML.

    Thanks for the visually-aided explanation on aperture. I’m very interested in photography but so lazy to learn more on my own. While reading your post I was going “ahhh yun pala yun” :-D

    • lemon says

      Re:The problem is most don’t want to hire a lawyer — they just want free legal advice. hahaha. hay, that is so true. As if free legal advice won’t require the lawyer to study.

      Re: leaving out facts–hehe.The lawyer is sometimes the last to know about the faults of her client.

      Someday, I hope to ask for photography advice from you, but not right now, when I don’t even know why my shots using the canon powershot always end up blurred. And I can’t find the manual now. sigh.

  2. elit says

    Hi Connie,

    wow! thanks for the tips! btw, where can I find kultura filipino? yan ba yung nasa SM? Salamat po!

    • says

      I don’t know if this would help but when I try to explain the blurriness of the background to show emphasis, I liken it to my eyes. Pag malaki ang mata ko and put a thing before it, kung ano yung focus ko, yun ang malinaw. Pag siningkitan ko ang mata ko, malinaw lahat. The same thing with the camera, the bigger the apperture, plus the right speed, makukuha ko yung effect. Then, I would switch the focus. Kunwari, yung A muna ang malinaw, tapos, sa susunod, babaguhin ko ang focus. Yung B naman, para yung A naman ang malinaw. Naituro ko pa ang foreground at background.

      • says

        Great post Ma’am Connie! Now I know what to adjust whenever I want to achieve that effect. Now if only I have a better camera with better aperture settings… :P

        • Ting says

          OMG, dito ko lang naintindihan ang apperture. Phew. Kuwento ka naman ng Time Value please. Why is it that even if I use ISO 800 in the dark, blurry pa rin ang outcome ng aking pix plus it takes a while na magclick, kahit forced na yung flash ko. Do it in 20 pictures please and explain it to me in layman’s term. Thanks.

          • says

            LOL The higher the ISO setting, the more grainy the photo. High ISO is good for moving subjects but in the dark ISO 200 AND A TRIPOD are the best combi. Will try to post samples.

      • says

        OK yan ah. Mas nag-click sa utak ko yung explanation ni Sassy… Teacher ka talaga Tito Rolly! Very effective. Sana naging teacher kita :-D

  3. Rosemarie Estaris-Martinez says

    Hi Ms. Connie, just want to ask kung yung aperture value depends on the lens kasi i’m trying to do the blurred background thing kaso yung aperture ng camera eh minimum F/3.5 lang. (lens 18mm to 105mm).

    Appreciate your help…newbie ako sa photography eh :)

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