Location and subject
For our shoot we visited Cotswold Wildlife Park in Oxfordshire. Wildlife portraits are great for demonstrating how the aperture affects depth of ﬁeld; you’ll generally want a wide aperture, somewhere between f/2.8 and f/5.6, in order to capture a shallow depth of ﬁeld that makes subjects stand out from surroundings that are often ‘busy’ and similar in colour.
Aperture Priority mode
To get to grips with aperture without having to worry about the shutter speed, set your D-SLR to Aperture Priority mode – Av on your camera’s mode dial. The great thing about Aperture Priority mode is that you can take full control of the aperture setting, and the camera will set an appropriate shutter speed to deliver a well-exposed image.
Aperture and depth of ﬁeld
To understand how aperture affects depth of ﬁeld, start by selecting the widest aperture available (the smallest f number). Take a shot, stop down to a medium aperture such as f/8 or f/11 and take another shot, then dial in a narrow setting such as f/22 and take another – you’ll see a big difference between the shots in terms of how much of the scene is in focus.
Shutter speed and ISO
For optimum image quality set the ISO to 100. The camera will set the shutter speed, but if you’re shooting handheld you’ll need to keep an eye on the shutter speed to ensure it’s fast enough to avoid camera shake and capture sharp shots. If your shots are coming out blurry, you can increase the ISO to get a faster shutter speed at a given aperture setting.
Clone out distractions
Duplicate the ‘Background’ layer. The foliage in front of the red panda’s face is distracting, so take the Spot Healing Brush tool and zoom in on this area. Tick Content Aware, and set the brush size to around 70 pixels. To clone out a long stalk, click at one end of it, then hold down Shift and click at the other end to clone out the whole stalk in one go.
Open the start image in ACR. On the Basic panel set Temperature to 4650 to warm up the image, and set Exposure to +0.55 to brighten it. Set Shadows to +54 and Blacks to +43 to lighten the shadowed areas, and set Contrast to +9, Clarity to +23 and Vibrance to +38 to boost the contrast and colour. Click Open to open the image in Elements’ main editor.