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Open aperture


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Open aperture

6 Apr 2020 8:33AM   Views : 253 Unique : 132


In the Critique Gallery, we often warn people about the problems with shooting with the lens wide open: focus is critical (and easily lost if you don’t shoot immediately, as you sway slightly), and the lens may well deliver the worst performance of any aperture it has.

On the positive side, you have the option of strong differential focus, especially if you are using a slightly telephoto prime lens, as the picture of Arabella and Alicia K above shows – Samyang 85mm f/1.4 at full aperture. You can start to get near to this with a 50mm f/1.8, but you’ll be much more limited with an 18-55 at the long end, and a maximum aperture of f/5.6.

Any way round, I encourage you to try a shot at maximum aperture today, and post it on Ephotozine – and put a link in below this article so we can all come and look. It sometimes doesn't matter if the image isn't really sharp anywhere, providing it's really blurred in other areas, as in this shot of Alicia Black, photographed with the picturesquely named SLR Magic Hyperprime 50mm f/0.95 lens.


Of course, we’ve (almost) all got cameras that are perpetually shooting with the lens wide open, and a complete absence of differential focus. It’s in your mobile camera, and the very short focal length (it’s 3.5mm on my cheap Vodafone model) gives great depth of field. Going back a couple of days, it wasn’t uncommon for the standard lenses of 8mm movie cameras to be fixed focus: a focal length of 12 or 15mm allowed decent sharpness from three feet or so to infinity.

That’s why mobile processing apps tend to offer softening of part of the image, to simulate the differential focus that a longer lens gives. Unless you use and grade the effect carefully, it’s pretty easy to spot the difference, as processing softens areas that would come out sharp with differential focus, and fails to blur parts of the image that would be very soft.

Don’t get me wrong – mobiles can offer decent quality for many purposes, though I’m not rushing out to spend more on a ‘phone than any of my lenses cost. But they are singularly unsuited to portraits, as most have wideangle lenses, and give a degree of distortion.

Which leads on to a subsidiary ‘O is for…’ – and that’s OnlyFans. Anyone who’s clocked up a few studio sessions with models is likely to have seen the term on a model’s internet profile, or she may have asked if she can use an image on the site. It’s a sort of Facebook for paying customers: models earn money by posting pictures of themselves, and fans pay to see them. Why might anyone join a page on the site? Most seem to promise either a glimpse into the behind the scenes life of a model, or naughtier pictures than they generally publish.

I’ve never felt the desire to see the pictures models shoot of themselves, but in a spirit of enquiry I signed up for a month with two models I’ve met, quite a while back – no names, no pack drill. In one case, the pictures were slightly more explicit than you’ll find elsewhere: in the other case, much ruder. Not a single image in either set made me worry that the models were going to make photographers redundant, or think the better of the results that you can get from a mobile.

So here's an insight into my life , sitting at my computer. The front camera is often far lower quailty than that on the rear of a mobile.


Leading to a third ‘O’ (you’ve got value today!) – ‘Oh dear…’

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