digital photography tips with Digital Photo Mentor Darlene Hildebrandt

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Shoot Wide Opened – September Photography Challenge

Shooting wide opened, or with a large aperture, can be challenging at times. So this month I want to get you practicing that, and really make sure you nail your focus – not just literally on the subject, but make sure you have a clear subject as well.

pink roses
Shot with the Fuji 18-135mm kit lens at 122mm at f.5/6. You don't need an expensive lens or one with a 1.2 aperture to do this!

Shoot wide opened – new monthly challenge

So what is involved with shooting wide opened? Well, one simple setting on your exposure triangle – set the aperture on your lens to the biggest one you've got. If you aren't sure what that is, look at the image below. There are numbers on the barrel of your lens, usually right after the focal length in mm, that show the maximum aperture for your lens.


Notice the lens on the left shows 1:1.8. What that means is the maximum (or largest) aperture this lens can produce is f/1.8. That's a nice large aperture capable of some great bokeh and background blur. Now look at the one on the right, see how it shows 1:2.8-4, a range. That means this lens has a range of maximum apertures from f/2.8 to f/4. HUH? Did I just lose you?

Let me explain. Many zoom lenses do not have one maximum aperture across their entire zoom range. Only the really high-end expensive ones (Canon's L-series with the coveted red line, or Nikon's gold line) have a constant aperture, but they come with a hefty price tag. So most mid-range and kit lenses have a maximum aperture that varies as you zoom in. This lens is a 17-35mm and at 17mm (the widest) it can go to f/2.8, but if you zoom in to 35mm, the best it can do at that focal length is f/4.

What lens and setting to pick?

So what does all that mean? Just know that to use the largest aperture you need the smallest f-number. Read: How to use Depth of Field for more info on understanding aperture. So to do this challenge I recommend:

  • Select a lens that has f/2.8 or f/4 as the maximum aperture if you have one. If you have a 35mm or 50mm f/1.8, even better, use it!
  • Alternately if you don't have one that goes that large for the aperture, use a lens that zooms longer. So if you have an 18-135mm kit lens that goes from f/3.5-5.6 use that, but at the longer end (closer to the 135mm) not the wider (18mm) end. It is harder to get shallow depth of field using a wide lens. So for this exercise pick a longer than normal (50 or greater) lens.
  • Set your camera to aperture priority (and auto ISO if you have it).
  • Set your aperture to the biggest one you've got (smallest number).
  • Get shooting.
Shot with the Canon 50mm f/1.8 – this is a $125 lens, you can do this and not break the bank! (if you are Nikon make sure you get the AF one).

Need a lens? Here are some options for you if you feel you need to buy one (but you really don't):

Shot with a 135mm lens at f/5.6. The background is blurry due to the great distance between it and the subjects.
Shot with a 135mm lens at f/5.6. The background is blurry due to the great distance between it and the subjects. You can do this with a kit lens!

What to shoot?

I tend to shoot wide opened a lot so pretty much anything goes for this challenge. Here are some subjects that work well with a shallow depth of field (and some examples for you):

  • Still life (non-alive) objects and details
  • Macro subjects (read: The Ultimate Guide Macro Photography for help with that)
  • Pets
  • People or portraits
  • Nature
  • Bokeh backgrounds

Here are some more photography ideas for things to shoot.

Still life and details – my faves!

This is something I do a lot and a way to take ordinary things and make them look interesting and appealing.

This is a menu at a restaurant – 50mm lens, f/1.8
When you have a subject that is busy, shooting wide opened like this helps the viewer see the subject better. 50mm lens f/1.8
105mm lens f/4.0
A simple little figurine with the 50mm f/1.8 (seeing a trend here?)
85mm lens f/1.8 (this lens is another good choice for a good prime with a large aperture in the under $400 price range).
50mm f/1.8 again! Was tricky to get my own hand in the shot and hold the camera.
Contrasty midtone lift CV preset applied
105mm at f/4


If you can get them to stand still try this with your pet. Make sure you focus on their eye! If one is closer to the camera than the other, always focus on the nearer one.

Canon 50mm f/1.8 (on full frame)
Fuji 35mm at f/1.4 (cropped sensor – similar to the 50mm on full frame!)

People and portraits

The highly coveted blurry background for portraits is something you can practice for this challenge if you like photographing people. To do so make sure you do all three of these things:

  1. Use a slightly long lens (50mm or long on cropped sensor, 85mm or longer on full frame)
  2. Get the subject as far away from the background as possible. The more distance there is between them, the easier it will be to blur the background.
  3. Use a large aperture. You may want to use f/1.8 if you have it but be very careful of your focus (see notes below). Usually, for a single person, I choose f/2.8. Gets more of them in sharp focus while still throwing the background out of focus.
My lovely 95 year old grandmother with the Canon 50mm lens at f/1.8.
My lovely 95-year-old grandmother with the Canon 50mm lens at f/1.8.
This was shot with the Canon 85mm f/1.2 lens at f/1.2. This is a big expensive lens which I borrowed for this workshop. Even I do not own this one.
This was shot with the Canon 85mm f/1.2 lens at f/1.2. This is a big expensive lens which I borrowed for this workshop. Even I do not own this one. If you have the 1.8 you can do just about the same.
This is the f/1.2 lens in action. Notice how very shallow the depth of field is? In the first shot on the left her nose and lips are sharp but her eye is not. In the second I focused on her eye but her lashes are sharp and her eye itself is not. In the final image on the right, I got the focus I wanted on her eye nearest to the camera.

To help you with nailing your focus, read this: 6 Tips for Finding Focus and Getting Sharp Images


When most photographers think of nature they head directly to the wide sweeping grand vistas. While those are great, I tend to get closer and focus in on little bits of the scene. Look for details in nature to photograph too.

85mm lens at f/1.8
105mm lens at f/5.0
70mm lens at f/4
85mm at f/5.6

Bokeh background

This is a fun thing to play around with. You do need a lens with a really big aperture to make it work the best, but your 50mm f/1.8 will work great, so never fear! Find or place an interesting subject some distance away from the background. Ideally, if you can find or create a background that has little lights it will make the effect that much more spectacular. Christmas tree lights (at that time of year), street lights, sparkling lights, anything with lots of light sources you can put way in the background will do the job.

These were all shot with my Canon 85mm f/1.8 lens at f/1.8. The shape of the bokeh (or blobs of light) will vary depending on your lens, how many aperture blades it has, etc.




Low light photography

Another good time to shoot wide opened is when you are in a low light situation. If you're in a dark room it's always the best idea to open the aperture fully, unless you have a tripod and all non-moving subjects, of course. Read: Tips for Low Light Photography for more information on that subject.

One more tip – get close

One thing you may or may not notice in a lot of these example images is that I am quite close to the subject in most cases. The closer you are to the subject, the shallower the depth of field will be, so the more pronounced the effect will be as well. So if you aren't getting the look you want – take a few steps (or inches in some cases) forward. Also – shoot from an angle as opposed to straight on to the subject.

Look at this example. The first image is shot more straight on the board of numbered tags and a bit farther away than the second. See what a difference those two small adjustments make to the image? So remember to move your feet too!

Shot with the 50mm at f/1.8
Shot with the 50mm at f/1.8
Shot with the 50mm at f/1.8
Shot with the 50mm at f/1.8
Shot with the 50mm at f/1.8 at about the closest distance this lens will focus without using an extension tube.
Shot with the 50mm at f/1.8 at about the closest distance this lens will focus without using an extension tube.

Winners of last month's challenge

Last month I gave you some of my images to play with in the get processing challenge. I have to say I was really pleasantly surprised (and impressed) by all the drastically different interpretations of them. We got everything from black and white conversions, turning day into night, and even combining two or more of them to make an entirely new image.

Jon Lipinski turned this daytime shot into nighttime.
Jon Lipinski turned this daytime shot into nighttime.

You also learned a lot too based on some of your comments. Here are just a few people that took away some good lessons and were inspired:

  • Craig Boehman: I think the lesson learned here is to leave well-enough alone! Everything else as far as dramatic post-production should serve a specific purpose, I believe. The purpose here being one of experimentation for experimentation's sake. The takeaway for me is that challenges like this really makes me think about how critical small changes are to the overall image – and how dramatic changes risk the chance of going too far.
  • Stewart Gibbs: My biggest learning is to document that changes I made so that they are repeatable.
  • Amy Mitchell: I've been using Lightroom since last September and am still learning every time I process an image. I think what I learned here is just how much information can be in there that can be pulled out with the right tools. I would never have guessed when I started what the finished product would look like, had no plan to make this look like a late evening sunset type of sky. This was very much trial and error. “Let's try this and see what happens.” It helps to know that I can't wreck anything. Yes, this felt very creative. I love processing images almost as much as taking them. It's always fascinating to see what the final image turns out to be.
  • Alison Trimbee:  (several of her comments combined) I really enjoyed this. I realized it’s the first time I have sat down and thought about how I want my image to look once finished. It has taught me to consider the story I want to tell and how I might want to tell it. So my learning here was to practice b&w using LR tools; to follow one of the tutorials I have on my list to watch and to use a blend of filters in Nik that I haven't used yet to create the dramatic, vintage look I was after. I certainly thought about what I was doing and felt creative in the process. I have now created an action list of tutorials to watch and edits to practice, going forward following the end of this month. The whole concept has motivated me to want to have a go, so for that alone I say a huge thank you!

    Alison Trimbee made this gritty black and white version by trying a new technique.
    Alison Trimbee made this gritty black and white version by trying a new technique.
  • Rebecca Cullimore: This was a lot of fun and it taught me that there is so much that you can do with a photo. There is also so much information within a photo that you can tweak levels of color to get a dramatic effect. I read once that editing is used to change the picture to remind you of the feeling you had when you took it. Often just a little editing can bring that feeling of wow back that caused you to take the picture in the first place. Thank you for the reminder on how powerful a little editing is and how much it can change a photo.
  • Jim Furey: I believe that image processing is fundamental to the “art” of photography. The objectives are either to make the image look like what I saw with my eye when I made the exposure (the main case) or to use an image as a starting point to create something artistic (the case I’m trying to learn).

And the winners are. . .

Selected totally randomly from all eligible entries, the winners are:

  • Jesper Jørgensen – won a set of my Lightroom presets. He said:  I used PS CC to processing this image. I normally don't use PS, so this was great learning.
  • Jim Ruse – won the complete Creative Kit from Macphun (thanks to them for sponsoring that prize). He said:  I recently bought a plug-in created by Jimmy McIntyre called Raya Pro. This is the first image I have used Raya Pro for processing. I learned a lot about some of its features. I also learned some new techniques from a couple of other sources I have been studying. This was GREAT fun and I learned a lot about being creative with post-processing.

Congratulations guys, I've emailed you on how to collect your prizes.

How to participate in this month's challenge

In order to participate in this challenge and be eligible for this prize you need to:

  1. Upload your wide aperture, shoot wide opened image in the comments section below
  2. Tell us how you shot it (what lens and settings).
  3. Tell us about your experience and what you learned by doing this challenge?  If you usually shoot at f/8 or smaller, how was this for you? What did you learn in the process of shooting? Tell us about that.
  4. Upload your photo, shooting info and what you learned by the cut-off date of October 14th, 2016 (11:59 pm EST or UTC-5). NOTE: please do NOT save your images as TIF (they will be too big to add in the comments, must be under 2mg) and please do NOT email your images to me for critique. I cannot give personal critiques by email, leave your images below and I will comment there.

Please note: if you do NOT fulfill all the steps above your entry will not be valid. Just adding the photo will NOT be counted as an entry. I want to hear about it too, please. The point of these challenges is to help you learn something new – tell me about that.

You may post more than one photo, and do this as many times as you like over the month (you can comment as many times as you like, and share as many photos as you want – but it will be counted as one entry per person). The more you practice the better you’ll get at it, like anything – so share away. I also encourage you to share the link to this challenge with a friend, so you can do it together!

The Prize

The prize this month will be a $50 Amazon gift card that you can use towards anything you like, perhaps even a new lens! We'll randomly choose one winner from all the eligible entries.

Now get shooting and let's see what you come up with!



You are here: Photography Challenges » Shoot Wide Opened – September Photography Challenge

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  • Ed

    This was done with a 2.8 40mm 1/200 @ f10 done in Feb at 2:00 bright sun. Shows me you do not need to use an expensive lens to get a decent shot. Ed V

    • I can’t see your image Ed, and f/10 isn’t a large “wide opened” aperture that’s a very small one.

      • Ed

        Sorry, not great with this.. aperture is 2.8 this is the photo Hope you get it. f stop shows to be 10 not sure looking at info info from LR. Hope this helps, or I can submit another…


        • Ed there seems to be confusion. The aperture IS the f-stop, they are the same thing. So if it’s 2.8 it can’t also be 10. I’m not sure what the 10 is that you see in LR then. Can you show me a screenshot?

          • Ed

            Yes, you are correct, I am new to LR and some of the basic terminology. After looking at LR more carefully I see where it tells me my “Lens” (40 mm f/2.8) then in another area it shows “Exposure” (1/200 @ f/10). Obviously I need to learn more of the basics.


          • Right okay so the f/2.8 is the maximum aperture of the lens. But you shot at f/10 on that image.

          • Ed

            Thanks, I realized that after you pointed out what was going on. I had let the camera settings pick the aperture, when I should have set it manually…

          • Ed

            FYI for the other shots I submitted, I ignored the “Len” area.

  • Nitish

    Portraiture of a little beautiful and cute girl.

    Shooting data : Camera – canon 700D, Shutter speed – 1/250 sec, Aperture – f/5, ISO – 2000 and lens – canon 55-250 mm IS II

    I set the ISO in auto mode and it takes value of 2000, little high for daytime in my opinion. SO, now onward I decide to set each time for better control. I also crop this image to more stand out and appealing the subject.

    • waynewerner

      Did you apply a lot of noise reduction? Her face looks like it was heavily retouched.

      • Nitish

        Yes! I reduced little bit of luminance noise and soften the skin

        • waynewerner

          It might just be personal preference, but I like to see skin that looks naturally like skin 🙂 It gives the subject character.

          Also if you look at her neck you can see the non-uniformity that’s present in human skin, but you’ve removed a lot of that in her face, which makes it look jarring.

          • 100God

            agree with you. I also felt the skin if extra soft, also some colors looked highly saturated. though the expressions captured are perfect for a story telling pic 🙂

    • what focal length was the lens at? Perhaps the camera was trying to help you avoid camera shake. If you shot at 250mm you need that shutter speed 1/250th. So you also need that ISO or to open the lens aperture more if that’s possible.

      • Nitish

        Focal length of lens at that time was 55mm

  • waynewerner

    I have a Canon 40mm f/2.8 and I’ve been in love with the creamy bokeh it produces since I got it. Recently I picked up some extension tubes, which even further reduces my depth of field. Especially if I use the full stack of tubes.

    Canon T5 with Canon 40mm f/2.8 and 31mm extension tube. 1/250s ISO100, converted to B&W in Darktable and minor brightness/contrast adjustments.

    The thing that I’ve mostly learned with these new extension tubes is that wide open apertures create a *paper thin* depth of field, way way more than my 40mm alone. It’s gotten so shooting in live view is almost entirely necessary if I want to have any hope of getting the right thing in focus. Sometimes I just take several shots, moving back and forth slightly, with the hope that one of my pictures will actually be in focus.

    • yes that’s all true good notices – if you do use Live View switch to manual focus and zoom in on the display on the back. It should give you up to a 5x or 10x enlargement so you can focus precisely. Then turn off live view to shoot.

  • Debbie

    This photo was taken during my lunch hour at work. I used the EPM2 and Olympus 17mm 2.8. The photo was taken at F/2.8, ISO 200, 1/2500 sec in Aperture priority. I love to shoot shallow depth of field so that wasn’t new to me but what I did learn is that I can shoot shallow depth of field on a shoestring budget with a lens that is not well respected. Camera and lens were both purchased used for inder $500.

  • Dennis Mortlock

    This shot was recently taken at Yosemite National Park; new moon at about 9:30 PM. I used the Nikkor 14mm, f2.8 lens, on my Nikon D750. Tripod mounted, 25 seconds at ISO 6400,f 3.5. Processed in Lightroom to make the Milky Way stand out more and bring out more contrast, I used noise reduction plus masking in the detail panel was to better isolate the stars.
    I learned that contrary to what I thought(a small aperture setting needed to get sharp stars), that shooting wide open at the proper settings can produce tack sharp stars. Lesson learned; with the proper setting I can still get tack sharp stars with a wide open setting, as long as the focus is spot on!

    • Yes you need to shoot wide opened to get stars otherwise the exposure goes too long and you get them arching. You need no depth of field as pretty much everything is at infinity. IF you have something in the near foreground most photographers take two shots – 1 focused on the stars or infinity and a second focused on the foreground object. Then they blend them together in PS.

  • drgator

    Canon 100-400@400mm, f5.6, ISO 1250, 1/250 sec. Jacksonville Zoo. Early morning in the shade. Alligator was under a wooden bridge. Worst fear was falling in having to lean so far over the railing to capture the head.

    • Cool shot – yes please always safety first! This one is an example where you don’t need a lot of depth of field though because everything is pretty equidistant from you.

  • A vanHeerden

    With Canon 35-80mm MkIII with front elements removed

  • Dr.Syed

    Superman in action.
    I was trying to gain more hold on my wide angle lens, was practicing at my dining table. The table has a transparent plastic cover over the wood.I used a torch light from a little distance beside camera, a bit indirectly. camera was placed on the table.did not used any remote or tripod.
    gears were– Nikon D5200 camera, Tokina 11-16 lens, shot at f/2.8, at 1/20 shutter. ISO 100, full manual, focal length–15mm, white balance at Auto at matrix metering.
    I first focused on the toy, using live view screen ,zoomed it to 100% and focused using auto focus, then zoomed out and came out of auto focus. camera was at the level of toy on the table and was clicked.
    I was trying to get a good reflection of the toy and was looking at a proper angle to get impressive action, I tried different poses, this looked little better.
    what I learned here is we can get what we try to achieve , only thing needed is patience and practice. For wide angle we have to be closer to the subject to get it in a proper focus and before shooting we should look at the subject from different angles.
    processing— little– cropping to get the symmetry and place it according to rule of third, then bit editing with burn tool on the toy and its shadow, little spot healing under the toy and also High pass sharpening.
    I have a doubt , may be sharpening is proper, lighting is not directed properly and highlights are bit more.

    • Dr Syed

      You mentioned: “I first focused on the toy, using live view screen ,zoomed it to 100% and focused using auto focus, then zoomed out and came out of auto focus.”

      When you “zoomed” in did you do that with the lens or the + (magnifier) button to just magnify the screen view only? If you zoom in, focus, and zoom out with the lens – yes it will NOT keep focus.

      Unless you are using backbutton focus, or you focused zoomed in, then turned off the autofocus.

      • Dr.Syed

        Hi Darlene,
        Thanks for the reply.
        I zoomed in using magnifier button and focused, then zoomed out, turned off the auto focus and clicked.

        • That should work unless you turned the focus ring as you zoomed by accident

  • Arch Boothe

    This picture was taken at a local high school football game at half time. It was shot with a Nikon D810, using a Sigma Pro 120-300 mm at a focal length of 300mm at: F3.2 with a shutter speed of 250 and an ISO of 3200. No flash. I knew about shooting wide open, put sometimes you forget about all the things that you have in your arsenal, so this taught me that I need to be experiencing more with what I know.

  • drgator

    More depth of field. Canon 100-400@100mm, f/8, ISO 100, 1/100 sec

  • Ed

    Here we go again, this time with a f/2.8; 1/250; 40 mm lens, ISO 100; Camera; Canon EOS T5i It seems you do not need an expensive lens or camera to get a decent closeup, not great but decent.

  • Ed

    Here’s one for the kids… with a f/2.8; 1/250; 40 mm lens, ISO 100

  • Ed

    Looks like no depth of field with kit lens??? ISO 6400; f/3.5; 1/3200; 18-55 mm kit lens. Full daylight

    • sir_quasar

      Quite the opposite…looks like plenty of depth of field to me. Yeah, kit lenses generally suck at bokehhh, but it seems to me you may be using the wide side of the 18-55. Try using the 55mm end to get the best possible effect. You’ll also notice that most photos in this thread are close to their subjects like Darlene suggests. Another thing is ISO 6400 and full daylight are a contradiction in terms! The high ISO is why there are blown out areas in the photo even at 1/3200. Food for thought from another Ed.

      • Yes all valid points! You don’t need either ISO 6400 or 1/3200th. ISO 400 at 1/200th would be fine here.

  • Nitish

    Jungle Babbler sitting on a concrete rock!
    Shooting with Canon 55-250mm kt lens at F/5.6, 1/200 sec and ISO 200 while focal length held at 250mm.

    Dear Darlene!

    Please critique my image so that I came to know where I stand?

    • Thistle

      I am no expert, but I like the image.

      The most striking feature is how in focus the eye seems to be. I would try cropping in a way that cuts out what you don’t like.

    • You may always get some color fringing that can mimic chromatic aberration but isn’t. When you have a subject that’s out of focus like his tail, color can start to bleed in around it – I think you’re just seeing the green behind him blurring and blending in with his tail. I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

  • C E

    Canon 100mm macro lens used; F2.8 – 1/1000 – ISO 100 – partial metering mode; no flash; no exposure compensation; auto white balance; al servo. The lady bugs were out in full force so I grabbed my macro lens and set the aperture wide open. I used aperture priority and auto ISO. If I was to get the shot I wanted with such a narrow depth of field I needed to find one in the light. I was unable to find one sitting still, so getting the shot required me to move and shoot as fast as it was moving. I had to get down to it’s level since I wanted the shot to be straight on as it started crawling towards me – wow, what a challenge! These little fellas/ladies are quick! I had to keep backing up since it was getting too close to the len’s focus zone. Good thing my battery was fully charged and my card was clean and ready for lots of shots. Lots of failed shots, but captured a few that I were in focus with the angle I liked.

  • Mandy Baldwin

    Hello Darlene.
    Fuji XT1. ISO 5000, F/3.5mm, 1/125 18mm lens.
    Day was quite overcast and it was quite dark amongst the trees.
    I had in mind Black and white conversion. I wanted to highlight how straight the trees were and how tall!
    I like shooting with a wide aperture and do so most of the time… I need to use larger aperture more often, in these types of situations.

    • Great job, love it in B/W. You said something I want to make sure you’re clear on:

      “I like shooting with a wide aperture and do so most of the time… I need to use larger aperture more often, in these types of situations.”

      So a wide aperture and a large one are the same things. Did you mean you usually shoot with a smaller aperture, like f/8 or f/11?

      • Mandy Baldwin

        Darlene, I just need to get my jargon right when I talk aperture! I usually shoot f/5.6 to f1.4…sorry on the confusion.

        • Okay so f/1.4 is a really big aperture, as in a large opening. Is that part the part that’s confusing? Think of it like a fraction. Which is bigger 1/2 or 1/8 of a pie? 1/2 right. So f/2 is bigger than f/8. Does that help?

  • Peter

    Hello Darlene,
    This was shot with a Nikon D7000, AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.8 @ F1.8 I’m a fan of shooting wide open and try to do it as much as I can. Your post was very helpful in reminding me of how a small change can make a difference in increasing the DOF, already I see what a difference it makes in some other photos I shot today.

    As far as this image goes, I shot it at a local market and really liked the way the different colours of fruit faded into the background. Didn’t do very much in post as I was fairly happy with the initial image. I really appreciate all the tips you share and look forward to any feedback you or anyone else can provide.

    • waynewerner

      One thing that I would have liked to see – that spotty fruit on the right is just *slightly* out of focus, but the imperfections kind of call it out as the subject of this photo. However, it looks like you were just *slightly* forward (millimeters or less), so it’s not quite sharp. If you focused on that with a single point focus, I think that would do wonders to this shot. Maybe another trip to the market is in order 😉

    • Wayne makes a really good point. Having a focal point and something for us to look at really helps. I too love how the fruit and colors fade off away from us.

  • KP Karunakaran

    Navy officer shot on a veterans remembrance day in Sydney Australia. Sony A7R with 55mm 1.8 Sony Zeiss lens. Shot at 2.8 (wide enough to blur background) but small enough to keep features sharp, I think I focused on her eyes. Since both my camera (mirrorless) and lens are small, I could move close to her without the intimidation factor. I introduced myself after taking the picture, got her email ID and mailed her both my colour and monochrome version – I liked this version as a portrait, there were no colour distractions. 55mm kept things at the right size without exaggeration. KP

    • waynewerner

      Love the B&W – I don’t think there’s any way that color would enhance this, though it might be interesting to see with just her colorized.

    • Thistle

      This is a really great photo on several levels.

    • Hi KP, and how did she like the photos? It is really nicely done.

  • Cesar P Caetano Ferreira

    Flowers in the garden, Shot at 4.5; 1/60 sec; ISO 100; Pentax K 3; Pentax DA 18-55mm at 35 mm .
    The focus on the purple flower in order to take a blur on the back.

    • Nicely done. If you want the background even more blurry, use your lens at the 55mm end or a longer one if you have one.

  • Cesar P Caetano Ferreira

    Another flower, shot at f/2;1/4000 sec; ISO 100; Pentax K 3; Pentax M 50 mm .
    This manual focus lacks clarity due to hard position I had to be.The bokeh is better in this aperture.

  • Jim

    On the River Thames at Oxford.
    Both photographs were taken on an old f2.8 90mm macro iso100 @1/250s which will only photograph at f2.8 so the speed is variable.
    When I noticed the shots on preview I knew that they would be keepers.
    I balanced the contrast to improve the background.

  • DKH

    Backyard small flowers and buds shot with Canon 100mm macro lens, ISO 100, f 2.8, 1/350th. Lots of learnings. Very hard to hand shoot a macro shot when there is a breeze. Focus point is key. f2.8 is very narrow in-focus range so must select the subject carefully or it just doesn’t work … but love the separation when it does work. Thanks for the inspiration! DKH

    • Arch Boothe

      very pretty, I like this. Nice shallow depth of field

    • Ewenique

      I agree. A very pretty shot!

    • All good learning points! I think you nailed it.

  • Leroy Javois

    I shot this at a county fair. My camera and settings are: Sony NEX 7, with the Zeiss 24mm 1.8 prime lens. Settings, 24mm, F3.2, 1/4000 second shutter speed, and ISO 800. The soaps were displayed in a very dimly lit area. I chose to use an aperture of 3.2, to give myself a little room. I was able to achieve similar results using apertures 1.8. and 2.8, but I chose to go with the 3.2 settings image, as I was most pleased with the outcome of the image. I chose to use a lavender/purple tone for post-processing, to incorporate the Lavender within the description of the soap. Before bringing the camera up to my eye, I envisioned the end result in my mind. I enjoy most genres of photography, with portraits, landscapes, cityscapes being more of a focus (pun intended). With portraits, and landscapes, my aperture is normally in the F8-F11 as my starting point. When shooting portraits outside of a studio setting, (depending on the scene/background and lighting) I’ll use a wider aperture for creative purposes, and/or to blur a busy background. I am pleased with the result of this image, and enjoyed participating. Wishing you all good luck, and great light!


  • 5.6 is “wide open” at 300 mm on the 55-300 nikkor zoom lens I used with my Nikon D5100 for this shot of the morning sun just touching a bunch of trumpet creeper flowers in my back yard. Speed was 1/200, ISO 800. I saw this from the kitchen window while packing my lunch before leaving for work, and had only a few minutes to set up the shot. Needed the long lens to get it from the back porch, and so had to keep the speed high enough to hand hold It, as I didn’t have time to run upstairs for the tripod & set it up. That meant raising the ISO and opening the aperture as wide as it would go. I was happy to have the background blurred – beyond the trees is an alley with cars and industrial buildings. I came down off the porch and walked up close to the flowers, but that required me to shoot upwards from the ground, and changed the background to bright blue sky, which was not as effective as the dark green shadowy leaves.

    • great job trying things and the light here is stunning! You might want to make sure you get to 1/300th on that lens (1 over the focal length) as your minimum shutter speed hand held at 300mm. Does the lens have VR? If so that does help a little but you still want to go a bit higher. So ISO 1600 and 1/400th is a better option. Nice image, well done

  • 100God

    Hi Darlene… this is Saurav Dhyani here… (just changed my display name for some other reasons) im visiting your page after almost more than 6 months.. have been keeping busy with something or other… but now promise to stay connected and updated..
    I just read through your article and loved the challenge you’ve thrown. Since I am a Macro photography fan, here is my submission of a flower I recently clicked.. Exif details :
    Camera – Nikon D90
    Lens – Tamron Macro 90mm F2.4 (non-VC)
    Aperture – 4
    ISO – 160
    Shutter Speed – 1/250
    I like this pic, because I wanted to capture the petals to look a bit soft than their actual feel and a very soft focus as well on petals so that the viewers go dreaming about this pic.. I just love my work on this pic 🙂
    waiting to hear your thoughts as well… Thanks in advance

  • Saeed

    Dear Darlene.
    This is one of my favourite portraits. It was taken last year on a visit to our old friends in Ottawa. I’m not sure if it qualifies for the challenge as it was taken previously however I would still like to share it.
    I took it with my Nikon Df and my 50mm f 1.4 manual focus. I bought this lens second hand about 20 years ago and it is manufactured in the 60s I believe. This lens has more than paid for itself.
    I used the soft natural light from the window. F2 to make sure I get enough depth of field to have more than just one eye in focus.
    Nikon Df, 50mm f1.4, ISO 1000, 1/100 sec at f2

  • Saeed

    Moroccan lamp.
    Nikon D700. 55mm f 2.8. Shot at 1/1600 sec f 2.8.

  • Saeed

    Hi Darlene.
    I have posted two photos but none is showing here> Am I doing something wrong or are the photos awaiting your approval?

    • Ed

      I had the same problem, make sure that they are under 2MB, you can always check by clicking on the properties.

      • Saeed

        Thanks Ed,
        they are up now.

  • Sally Jane

    Canon 70D, f/1.8, ISO – A, shutter speed – 100. Blurred background helped I think because Bold Bella was a way from the background.

    • what lens did you use Sally Jane? It looks fairly long which would throw the background out like that.

  • Ed

    Was not expecting the (Bokeh)? blurry background. ISO 100, 1/500, 40 mm, f/2.8

  • Ed

    Tried a little HDR, too much??? ISO 60, 1/80, 40 mm, f/2.8

    • Now sure what you mean by HDR. As in processing? Or you bracketed the exposures?

  • Pete Mueller I’ve got this really great group of subjects (meaning: friends and victims) at a winery I play at. With free run of their vineyards and facilities I often go for a tasting, and while doing that I’ll walk around and think about the shot(s) I might want to set up for. This last weekend they had just finished a major crush, so the barrel cellar was packed full. I set up with three strobes; the key light a 24×24 soft-box, fill with an on-flash diffuser/soft-box, and finally backlighting with a gelled strobe. Found a small step-ladder and set it up in front of a barrel at ground level as the “x marks the spot” spot.
    I find Stephen (my subject in this shot) incredibly photogenic in a rugged yet not overly macho way, and got exactly the image I was imagining. I set-up the shot with a stand-in dummy, and when I had the lighting dialed in I called Stephen into the studio (the barrel cellar) and took exactly three snaps. Third one was the money shot. Total time imposed on him was less than five minutes… he was able to get back to the winery guests without them even knowing he’d left them!
    Canon EOS REBEL T3i
    (Lens) TAMRON 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD B016
    (Focal Length) 87.0 mm
    (Aperture) f/5.7
    Exposure mode – manual
    Subject distance 2.3m
    ISO 100
    Shutter speed 1/200.

    • Hi Pete – I see another light source. Did the popup flash on the camera fire also? What is making the catchlights in his eyes? They’re very bright white and just a pin point. So a small light source.

      Be sure to get light into his eyes from the main light also. It’s a bit high here so his eyes are not getting light from the softbox. Just lower it a bit and bingo. If you really want to take it to the next level (you’ve already done great here) move your camera around a bit to get his head in the middle between barrels. See the empty spot just above his head to the left in the image? Put his head there and you’ll get more barrels showing too.

      • Pete Mueller

        Good points… esp. the framing (head between barrels). Right, the brim of his cap cut the light from the 24×24 soft-box. I should have caught that. The answer to the first question is; not pop-up… camera mounted speedlight fill with diffuser/soft-box (Vello Medium, 6.25 x 8.5″)

        • Ah okay. That’s still a pretty small light source. If you can bounce off a wall behind you that might give nicer soft fil.

  • Redhorse89 Although this is the month’s challenge, I’m somewhat used to shooting wide open, and have only recently gone the other way and learned to shoot with smaller apertures. Living on the lake lends itself to the kind of shooting I’m used to doing. I took this shot the other morning, as one seagull prepared to feast on a dead walleye, while another waited patiently and respectfully in the distance. The sandbars lent themselves to showing distance and depth, and fits this challenge, I think. Shot with an Olympus E-30, 50-200mm f/2.8 lens with EC-14 teleconverter, in Aperture priority, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO 200, focal length 143.

    • Just a couple questions for you. So why f/5.6? Is that as wide as it goes with the teleconverter on? If your lens is f/2.8 all the way through why shoot at 5.6?

      And why the converter? You haven’t exceeded the 200mm focal length of the lens why add a converter? It just takes up light and you usually lose a stop.

      • Redhorse89

        I didn’t see your post until now. To answer your questions: I have been experimenting with shooting modes other than shutter mode, a habit I got into when photographing horse events. It simply was the mode I wanted to shoot in on this day to see what results I got. On this particular lens, because we have a lot of eagles and small raptors around, I keep the converter on so that on the off chance one is within decent range, I may just get a good sharp closeup as opposed to a little blip on the viewfinder.

        • Okay. But that doesn’t explain or answer why you chose f/5.6? I am assuming you mean you used aperture priority mode instead of shutter priority. So then my question is – for a challenge called “shoot wide opened” why did you pick f/5.6? Are you clear what “wide opened” means?

          Or as I said, is that the largest it can go with the converter is being used?

  • Redhorse89 I’m used to photographing horses, and took this a few years ago. The soft yellow leaves complemented Commander’s color nicely. Shutter priority, f/3.4, 1/2500, 182mm focal length, Olympus E-500, 50-200mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 160.

  • Alison Trimbee

    Thanks for the feature in the feedback of last month’s challenge. I certainly learned a lot. I took this photo last month at Kew Gardens, London. The Gardens are open in Summer from 8am for members so it’s lovely and quiet before the crowds arrive and the light is at its best too. I shoot with an Olympus OMD EM5ii and was experimenting with my 75-300mm lens, f4.8-6.7. Therefore, at 300mm, it is wide open at f6.7. I have started to challenge myself with a single lens to think creatively about the type of shots I want to get. I took several pictures of just the bench from a distance at the max focal length with the lens wide opened. I didn’t actually take many like this until the end of my visit and really liked how the background and foreground blurred quite heavily and the bench stayed sharp. Then a cyclist passed ahead of me on his way to work. He was too quick for me to change my focus point but I like the blur. At least for this one I didn’t have to worry about panning, something else I need to practise!

  • Jim Furey

    This is a small “errant” leaf growing up out of a carefully trimmed hedge.
    I shot this with a Nikon D300 and a small prime lens – 35mm, f/1.8, ISO 200 and 1/4000s.
    It’s amazing – when you fix the aperture and ISO, the shutter gets VERY fast.

    • Yes IF you have a large aperture like 1.8 and lots of light. This is lovely.

  • Jim Furey

    I took your advice and got up close – as close as my lens would allow.
    I like the crooked web, which is why I have so much “negative” space in this one.
    Nikon D300 and a small prime lens – 35mm, f/1.8, ISO 200 and 1/4000s.

  • Jim Furey

    I like the forbidding sky in the background. I was just ahead of a Vancouver rain shower.
    I shot this with a Nikon D300, 35mm, f/1.8, ISO 200 and 1/4000s.

  • Jim Furey

    I don’t know why they call this the “Common Coleus”. I think they’re beautiful. And symmetrical!
    I shot this with a Nikon D300 at 35mm, f/1.8, ISO 200 and 1/250s.

  • Nitish

    Indian Lizard!

    Photographed @ f/5.6, 1/200 sec and ISO100 at focal length of 250 mm with Canon 55-250mm kit lense.
    Since there is not enough light and I’m handheld so, I decided to on the built in flash. I generally avoid to use flash because of its harsh shadows. But, here I’m satisfied with my result.

  • thatangela

    Sigma 28-70 @ 55mm, f3.5, 1/1500, ISO 4oo

    I’ve been doing a lot of landscape lately, so I’m living at f8-16. I shot this and remembered how much fun playing with DoF can be.

    • thatangela

      BTW, it’s been pointed out by a friend that my settings are way out of whack. It was a dreary day so I was shooting at a higher ISO on one site and then forgot to switch it back. I got pretty lucky that it turned out as well as it did but I tend to rely on my histogram a lot anyway.

      • by the way I don’t see anything out of whack with your settings! ISO 400 is perfectly acceptable. I don’t see the issue. Why does your friend thing that?

  • Rebecca Cullimore

    I shot this with my tamron 24-70. Even though this lens can go as wide as 2.8, I found that at that open you didn’t have enough in focus to truly tell the story. I took this at 5.0, 1/100 sec, ISO 200 at 40mm. The thing that this taught me is that I need to be careful with what story I am trying to tell and I can loose the story if I try to just go for shallow depth of field.

    • sometimes yes, not always true – but it’s certainly good to be aware of it as you were here!

  • Magnus Binnerstam
    Shot taken with Minolta 50mm F/2.8 Macro lens at F/5.6.
    This was a new experience, made the same shot at f/2.8 but found it too blurry, looked best (my opinion) at f/5.6
    Too shallow Depth of field made the primary flower to blur at some edges.
    Wanted just one flower razor sharp and all others blurry but still not completely out of focus.

  • Magnus Binnerstam
    Shot taken with a Minolta 50mm 2.8 Macro Lens at f/4.5.
    This was a new experience, made the same shot at f/2.8 but the primary flower became blurry at the edges.
    Wanted one flower razor sharp and all others out of focus but not too blurry. Had to step down aperture to f/4.5
    where i think it looks best. (My opinion)

    • Ewenique

      So pretty!

  • Alison Trimbee
    A friend told me about some baby mushrooms growing in our local park so I headed over straight after work to practise shooting wide opened before the last light. For the first picture, I used my Olympus 60mm f2.8 prime/macro lens and shot at the widest setting. Due to poor light, the ISO had to go up quite high to 1600 to compensate. my speed was 1/125. I wanted the row that I had selected to really stand out so this was my compromise.

    I also had a go with my Olympus 17mm f1.8 lens, 1/60 at ISO 500. I’m pleased with results and have been smiling to myself all day because I am finally beginning to “get” photography. I still have a lot to learn but I really love this effect. I have always worried about lack of clarity so don’t usually shoot less than f5.6 unless light is an issue. I’m starting to notice it more in magazines and online. I’ll certainly be taking photos with this aperture more often from now on.

  • sir_quasar

    Here’s a shot of a young boy who’s really enjoying his food as he has much of it still stuck around his mouth! Photo was taken on a Nikon D750 with the 80-200 2.8 lens wide open at 200mm. It was rather dark where he was so the ISO shot up to 1600, but it was manageable. I was surprised to see that the eye on camera right seemed sharper that the one on the left. I’m sure this was a depth of field issue since his head is tilted away from the front plane of the camera lens. DOF is certainly something that needs extra attention whenever shooting in this fashion!
    Ed Stewart

    • I don’t see one eye less sharp as a big problem. Just make sure the closer eye is always the sharper one.

  • Μάκης

    Hi Darlene,

    I shot this with my nikon D5300 and the Sigma Art 18-35mm f/1.8 in manual mode. The settings were 20mm, f/1.8, 1/200sec ISO100. It’s not the first time shooting wide open as that’s one of the reasons I loved photography. Picture was taken in Germany while in a Business tree. I like the bokeh depicted in the background caused by the natural daylight in between the trees.

  • Makis Chatzovoulos

    Hi Darlene,

    I shot this with my nikon D5300 and the Sigma Art 18-35mm f/1.8 in manual mode. The settings were 20mm, f/1.8, 1/200sec ISO100. It’s not the first time i shot wide open as that’s one of the reasons I loved photography. Picture was taken in Germany while in a business trip. I like the bokeh depicted in the background caused by the natural daylight among the trees.

  • Sonja Harkema

    Photographed with Canon 760D, 50mm lens @2,5f

    Interesting that you can change the image so much by moving your camera back and forth!

    • Ewenique


  • Shawn Valentine
    I took this with my Nikon (55-200 at 200mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/1000) while out for a hike with my family.

  • Michelle Moore

    This picture was taken on the island of St. John on September 18, 2016. ISO 100, F4.5, 1/60 sec. Lens 18mm using my Canon 18-55 kit lens. We were driving around and saw the donkeys and stopped to take some photographs. When I rolled down my window they came right over because they are accustomed to people feeding them. Unfortunately, I had no food with me, but did get this awesome shot.

  • Thomas Milliken

    This was shot with a Canon 50mm 1.8 lens, 1/1600 sec @1.8 iSO 100. I like to shoot with shallow depth of field if the subject calls for it. I feel it tends to give more focus to the subject and a feeling of dimension to the photograph.

  • kerry

    Shot was frustration over bee attempt on a very windy day. Lens was Sigma 105-2.4 Macro at 640, Canon 6D .Although I had been trying Manual focus I gave up for this shot and shot AF and managed to isolate the flowers and create a bit of bokeh with the background.

  • Johanne Tobin

    Shot with 45mm prime lens f1.8 ISO 200 1/2000

    This photo shows how difficult this can be to obtain clarity across the entire subject when shooting wide open and how it was necessary to shoot just before sunset so that I could increase shutter speed to freeze movement due of the flowers in the breeze.

    • I don’t think you need focus all over and this is lovely. Great light and colors.

  • Heather

    This was shot with my Fuji X-T1 with a 56mm f/1.2 lens at ISO 200, f/2.2, 1/250 sec. I chose f/2.2 instead of f/1.2 to get the entire padlock in focus as well as to make the other padlocks a little more recognizable. Although I frequently shoot at the wider end of things, the 56mm lens is a little new to me and through this exercise I learned just how shallow the DOF is at f/1.2 (shallow!), how close I could focus with this lens, and how the field of view changed as compared to my 23mm lens.

  • Gustavo Del Castillo N. Rivera

    “An old Roamer I”
    Canon 6D – Canon 50mm f/1.4 1/80sec
    De saturated it to B&W, adjusted highlights (-10), whites (+20), clarity (+10) and vignette (-23).

  • Ewenique
    I enjoy shooting wide open in Aperature mode because I like the blurred effect. I do this often when photographing my handmade soap. This was taken with a mirrorless Sony A5100 and a 50mm prime lens, f1.8, 1/160 sec, auto ISO. Getting the focus just right is sometimes tricky because I use the center focus setting and usually have to recompose the shot. (I’ve not figured out how to use all the focus area settings on the camera yet!)

  • Ewenique
    Close up of Beautyberry berries. Sony a5100, 50mm prime lens, f1.8, 1/800 sec, auto ISO

  • Terry Titmarsh

    What a great challenge. I’ve never shot so many photos with the widest aperture available on my lenses. I had an accident with my camera and dropped it on the roadway, wrecking my 50mm f1.8 prime lens, and my EOS 40D camera. Fortunately I had a spare body and was loaned a replacement 50mm lens by a friend. Hopefully my new Canon EOS 70D and 50mm lens will arrive soon. In the meantime I shot lots of photos using the largest aperture( f1.8 ) on my borrowed 50mm Canon lens and several with a macro lens at f1.4. I selected 5 photos which demonstrated to me the wonderful results which can be achieved. I used the Live View / Zoom technique you introduced me to not so long ago and a tripod. All were shot using aperture priority AV setting and manual focussing.
    1. 9805 Lime behind Kiwi Fruit. 50mm lens at f1.8 / shutter 1/125 / ISO 200 (LR crop and a little tweaking of exposure, contrast and clarity)
    2. 9819 Knights on chess board. 50mm lens at f1.8 / shutter 1/30 / ISO 200 (LR crop)
    3. 9820 Knights on iPad soft box. 50mm lens at f1.8 / shutter 1/50 / ISO 300 (LR crop)
    4. 9911 Walking Iris. 35mm macro lens at f1.4 / shutter 1/60 / ISO 400 (LR crop and tweaking clarity, vibrance, saturation, sharpening)
    5. 9999 Butcher Bird. 50mm lens at f1.8 / shutter 1/6400 / ISO 400 (LR crop, tweaked with graduated filter)
    In each photo I selected a feature I focussed on and using the live view/zoom technique managed to get some quite clear elements that caught my eye, and hopefully other viewers.
    I’ll keep practising this technique and will expect to get some printable photos I can mount on our house wall gallery.
    Thanks again for this challenge.

  • jon lipinski

    Hi there, my first shot is of some autumn (or fall where you are) leaves shot in my back garden. Taken with a Nikon D3200 with the kit lens (18-55 mm) with ISO of 100, f/5.3, 1/250th sec. focal distance: 45 mm. AS I have been doing a lot of landscape photos of late (beautiful sunny weather) I have been shooting at my smallest aperture to get maximum depth of field, but now that autumn is here the sun is so low and it creates some great images through the turning leaves. One lesson -> don’t accidentally catch the sun in your viewfinder!!!

  • jon lipinski

    This shot was made with my 35 mm prime lens that I bought second-hand from eBay and it’s really super to use with the aperture going up to f/1.8. This was ISO: 140, f/1.8, 1/60 th sec. focal distance 35 mm. As the depth of field is so narrow, I have learned is that a tripod is a MUST! That’s a cup of delicious tea and a copy of The Times ….

  • jon lipinski

    My last photo is of four forks from the cutlery drawer …. I rested them on the glass top of my cooker hob (black and reflective) stood the camera (on it’s very-much-needed) tripod. What I learned here was that even if it’s raining and you’ve seen the inside of your house sooooo many times, there’s always something, somewhere that will make a photo. Another thing is: always check your settings FIRST! This was shot at -1.7 EV (left over from a sunny day shoot) so I had to bring it back up in Lighroom!
    ISO: 100, f/1.8, 1/160 th sec. focal distance: 35 mm.

  • Thomas Milliken

    This image was shot with a Canon 60D with a 50mm Canon 1.8 lens, 1/1600 sec @1.8 ISO 100. I love shooting with a shallow DOF and thought these navel oranges splitting open were an interesting subject. I think using a shallow DOF is an interesting way to bring a greater focus to a subject.

  • jon lipinski

    This was taken last year at my home. The snowman is a wine bottle stopper and there is a string of fairy lights in the background. My camera is a Nikon D3200, the aperture is f/1.8, the ISO is 450 and the shutter speed was 1/60th sec. This was my experimental period and I was trying out the wide aperture settings to see the results. There is always so much to learn. What I have also found is that when moving on to experiment with other settings, it’s difficult to remember what you learnt before! eg. this photo was taken about 10 months ago so I will have to go on another learning curve to remind myself of what works best!!

  • M Daniels

    Local tractor photographed in Savignac de Nontron, France. I took this photograph whilst testing a Samyang 800 mm f/8 catadioptric (mirror) lens which I intended to use for astro-photography. I know that not everyone likes the annular bokeh produced by this type of lens, but I thought it worked quite well. The photograph was taken handheld with a Nikon D3200 in full manual mode, including of course, focus. Shooting data: 800mm, f/8, 1/125s, ISO 400, This may not sound like wide aperture, but at 800 mm focal length, there is almost zero depth of field even with the tractor a few hundred metres down the road from the camera.

  • Magnus Binnerstam
    In this foto i wanted only the edge of the death cap to be in focus.
    Shot taken with a Sony A77M2 and the 16-50 SSM lens
    50mm 1/80 – f/2.8 ISO 3200 (Handheld)
    Had to crank up the ISO to get a decent shutter speed due to very poor lighting conditions in the forest.
    I Like the contrast in colors.

  • Magnus Binnerstam
    Kind of liked this wide open shooting, sharing one more image that came out decent.
    This one is taken at 50mm – 1/250sek – f/2.8 – ISO200
    Wanted a nice crisp view of the center flowers and then gradually blurring out.
    Nice with the morning dew on the petals, shot taken at 7:30AM

  • M Daniels

    I took this photograph of a local tractor in Savignac de Nontron, France from outside our house. I shot handheld, wide open at f/8 with an 800 mm catadioptric (mirror) lens, bought for astro-photography, simply because it was what I had on the camera and did not want to miss the opportunity. f/8 might not seem wide, but at this focal length the depth of field is almost non-existent, even at a few hundred metres. I know some will not like the annular bokeh that this lens produces, but I think it makes a very nice background for the tractor. The camera settings were 1/125, f/8, 800 mm, ISO 400 on a Nikon D3200 with UV filter. I have sharpened the tractor slightly in Gimp as the focus for a cat is very soft, but have left the background alone. I learnt just how shallow the depth of field is for this lens and how it blurs almost anything that is not contained in a single plane parallel to the lens. I also discovered how to hold such a long lens steady, without support and to allow a moving object to enter the focal region rather than trying to focus on it as it moves.

  • M Daniels

    I’ve posted a photo twice, now and each time it has showed up along with my comment. But, after reloading the page it has disappeared. Does anyone have any ideas what is going on?

  • M Daniels

    I took this photograph of a local tractor in Savignac de Nontron, France from outside our house. I shot handheld, wide open at f/8 with an 800 mm catadioptric (mirror) lens, bought for astro-photography, simply because it was what I had on the camera and did not want to miss the opportunity. f/8 might not seem wide, but at this focal length the depth of field is almost non-existent, even at a few hundred metres. I know some
    will not like the annular bokeh that this lens produces, but I think it makes a very nice background for the tractor. The camera settings were 1/125, f/8, 800 mm, ISO 400 on a Nikon D3200 with UV filter. I have sharpened the tractor slightly in Gimp as the focus for a cat is very soft, but have left the background alone. I learnt just how
    shallow the depth of field is for this lens and how it blurs almost anything that is not contained in a single plane parallel to the lens. I also discovered how to hold such a long lens steady, without support and to allow a moving object to enter the focal region rather than trying to focus on it as it moves. The image was acquired at 14:38 local time on 15 November 2015.

    • I think that bokeh makes it looks like a painting

      • M Daniels

        Thank you. It always reminds me of Monet.

  • Karen Boggs

    Again, I had some fun with this challenge. I learned A LOT! I love to shoot macro but just using the widest aperture and moving the camera to see different effects was fun. Also, Darlene I read up on your article about focus and for the first time I had my camera in aperture mode. I normally shoot just straight manual. I also have been using the autofocus and learned your technique using the “button on the back”. I really do think that my shots have gotten better. I use a Pentax K-3. This shot was done with 100mm lens, 2s, ISO 100 and f2.8

  • Karen Boggs
  • Karen Boggs

    My final upload was shot with a 50mm lens, ISO 125, 1/50s and f1.8. I was wanting to do more experimenting before posting any but a little storm by the name of Matthew got in my way.

    • Oh no, hope all is well there?

      • Karen Boggs

        Very well, thanks. It was just uncomfortable and inconvenient mostly. A lot of debris clean up.

      • Karen Boggs

        Very well, thanks. It was just uncomfortable and inconvenient mostly. A lot of debris clean up.

  • jon lipinski

    This was taken last year at my home. The snowman is a wine bottle stopper and there is a string of fairy lights in the background. My camera is a Nikon D3200, the aperture is f/1.8, the ISO is 450 and the shutter speed was 1/60th sec. This was my experimental period and I was trying out the wide aperture settings to see the results. There is always so much to learn. What I have also found is that when moving on to experiment with other settings, it’s difficult to remember what you learnt before! eg. this photo was taken about 10 months ago so I will have to go on another learning curve to remind myself of what works best!!

  • Gerald Dantin

    This is the first time that I have enter a photo challenge. I will submit 4 photos just to show what I have learned. Quick history, just got back in doing photography, when I started in 2005 and stopped in 2009 I was more of a point and shoot with my DSLR. I did not take the time to learn my camera nor did I take the time to learn photography, what a mistake. These last three months I got to know my camera, learned more about photography and learned post processing. One thing that I’ve learned, that it is a never ending learning process. I’m glad to be back at doing photography for I forgot how much I enjoy doing it. So here we go. I went on a backyard safari and found this snail on a tree right after an early morning rain. The weather condition was a gloomy day, rain clouds still in the sky. The camera that I am using is a Canon EOS 50D, the lens that I used was a Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro. Shot this image on Aperture Priority at f/2.5, ISO 100, @ 1/160 sec. Learned that with this 50mm fixed lens it all about moving yourself. Wanted to change the aperture to get more in focus but stuck with the wide open but still wanted to go to a small open to get that DoF. I shot at many different angles and settled with this one. One thing that I learned is that it takes a lot of patient to get a shot. Still need to learn more about lighting.

  • Gerald Dantin

    Shot this still life with my Canon EOS 50D with the Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro. My setting was on Aperture Priority, Auto ISO (shot at 640), @ f/2.5, @ 1/60 sec. Took this photo in a soft box, the rocks were from our garden, the blue background was from my iPad using a photo app, the darker blue is the reflection from the rocks giving that mountain look in the back, and the little white for the clouds came from a reflection of a white plastic shopping bag. Used Live View on my camera but I also used Live View on my laptop. This was my first time using Live View. Using Live View, I was able to set up my composition better. Got better at not wanting to change my aperture setting. Played around with different angles, different lighting, pretty much working the scene. It was a different way to look at a still life, again lot of patient playing around with the scene.

  • Gerald Dantin

    Took this photo with my Canon EOS 50D, with the Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro lens. Camera was set on Aperture Priority, ISO 400, @ f/2.5, @ 1/15 sec. I had the ISO set to Auto but it was going to 3200 which I decided not to use. Used Live View on the camera and my lap top. Used a dark background, the subject was an appetizer fork and the lighting below was my iPad using a photo app. Used many position of the fork and liked the illusion the fork gave from the reflection of the iPad. Never done this type of photography before but I had fun doing it. I will continue to play around with this type of photography and learn more. I was going to use four photos for the Wide Open Photo Challenge but decided to go with three (which I know only one counts) I did over 800 shots and kept about 50. What did I learn? Had to pay attention to my settings, walk around the subject, try different angles, look at the light and how it played on my subject. Enjoyed doing this challenge, got a lot of practice, and I had fun.

  • PA

    Here’s one from the gas shortage in the southeastern U.S. in Sept. (due to a broken pipeline). Many gas stations were dry for several days and there was some panic as some wondered how long it would go on, and if they would be able to get to work.

    This was taken with a 14mm lens at f/4. I love shooting wide and was literally inches away from the sign (my fingers were braced against the pump for stability). I took this at night and tried several different angles and tilts before I got one I liked. I processed it in black and white, and jacked up the contrast, adjusted the tonal curve and added grain and vignette to give it a gritty look.

    While I often shoot wide I am usually not this close. I guess I learned that one way to emphasize the subject is to get right on top of it.

  • Rita Heinrichs

    I took many photos for this challenge. The camera kit I bought came with a 40mm lens, for which I could not determine a useful purpose. But as I worked on this challenge I discovered it to be very useful. Thanks to this challenge I now know what the numbers mean on the lens and I have a clearer understanding of the effects of a wide open aperture on an image. The 40mm lens, in manual setting allowed an aperture of 2.8 and ISO was set to auto. I noticed that although focus was set on evaluative, the area of clear focus was best for parts of the image closest to the camera. I plan to practice shooting wide open more often, I like the results. setting for cherries-1/200 shutter speed, f 2.8, 40mm, ISO 800; Alero – 1/1000 shutter speed, f 2.8, 40mm, ISO 100.

    • Cool! What did you mean here Rita, ” I noticed that although focus was set on evaluative, the area of clear focus was best for parts of the image closest to the camera.”

      Evaluative is a metering mode. Do you mean when you let the camera pick the focus spot?

      • Rita Heinrichs

        Hi Darlene, as I was working on this challenge, I noticed that the area of focus was very small – I thought it should be larger. It seems evaluative mode is effective for most situations, but for this challenge, either because of the lens I was using, or the wide aperture, or a combination of the two, the area of focus remained small, as in the image of the word “Alero” where only the letter L is clear. Perhaps I lack a clear understanding of focusing modes or the effects created by the use of various lenses. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

        • Ah okay! No, you are confusing the terms.

          “evaluative” is usually a metering mode which is how the camera measures light.

          The focus being so small like that is what is called shallow depth of field. That is created by using the large aperture. That is what we were trying to do with this exercise. That’s why many photographers use the large aperture lenses to get just this effect.

          Does that help?

          • Rita Heinrichs

            Hi Darlene – ok – yes that definitely helps. So then, if the camera is set to spot metering, it is measuring the light for that particular spot? If that is correct, some of my questions have been answered.

          • YES exactly! Which is why I tell my students NOT to use Spot Metering unless they are experts. If you do that you have to constantly adjust for the tone of the subject. A black subject will tell your camera it needs more light – and make it grey. A white subject will tell the camera it needs less light and make it grey.

          • Rita Heinrichs

            Thank you so much-this has been a valuable lesson!

          • You’re welcome

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