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Aperture Does What?

Posted by on April 29, 2012

How many of you out there know what Aperture means when it comes to photography?  How many of you know that you have a function on your camera where you have the ability to control the aperture setting?

Aperture for those that don’t know in the simplest terms possible means the size of the opening of the lens when a picture is taken.  (www.digital-photography-school.com).

This excerpt taken from www.digital-photography-school.com/aperture: When you hit the shutter release button of your camera a hole opens up that allows your cameras image sensor to catch a glimpse of the scene you’re wanting to capture. The aperture that you set impacts the size of that hole. The larger the hole the more light that gets in – the smaller the hole the less light.

If you have heard the term of f-stops, this is in relation to aperture.  The lower the f-stop number means the larger the aperture in the photo is.  It also means larger the aperture the more light that is coming in.  And vice versa.  The higher the f-stop number means the less light that is coming through to the image.

Depth of Field: In the world of photography you may often hear the term of Depth of Field.  Wikipedia defines it as:  the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image.  The larger depth of field there is the more focus your entire shot will be.  The smaller the depth of field is means only a small part of your shot will be in focus.

The aperture has a big effect on depth of field.  Large aperture (the smaller the f-stop) decreases the depth of field in photos, and small aperture (larger f-stops) will give you a larger depth of field, and helps keeping your entire picture in focus.

Below you will find some examples that can help show you what changing your aperture can do:

This is an example of utilizing a larger aperture (f 2.8).  As you notice the focus of the flower is perfectly focus, but the background is blurred.  With this large of an aperture, even if another flower showed up behind this yellow one, that second flower wouldn’t be nearly as in focus as the yellow flower because of the small depth of field.

Whereas, in this photo:

The aperture is set at f 4.5.  Yes, the background is still a bit blurred, but you can make out the features of the background whereas the picture above you can really just see the colors.

I know this may come out to be pretty confusing, but it really is a lot of fun to go out and play with aperture.  A good time to use a large aperture (f 2.8, 4.5, etc) is with the use of portrait photography.  You put the person in the forefront where they come into focus nicely, and then the background gets blurred out.  It can make for some really great photos!

Also, if there’s ever a fine detail you want your camera to truly focus upon, it’d be a good idea to play around with the aperture to see what you can come up with.

Playing around with the aperture can make for some pretty great photos, and allows the use of creativity by bringing it to an entirely new level.

I hope you enjoyed this segment on aperture.  No worries, it can be a bit confusing, but I hope this helped in explaining more in detail what aperture is and what it can do for your photos!

22 Responses to Aperture Does What?

  1. Daniel Wheaton

    Another great bit of technical advice written with very easy-to-understand language.

    • Jamie

      Thanks Daniel, I appreciate that =) My goal is to try to make it in the simplest terms possible, however, I felt this one was difficult ;) heheh

  2. Dale Anne Potter

    Once again a very timely blog post Marie! THANK YOU!

  3. Martha Giffen

    OK, learn something new every day. This was all new for me today. I’m not really a camera buff and just expect it to do it’s job! Now I know what aperture means! Thanks!

  4. Marie Leslie

    Great explanation. So many photographic tutorials are written in technical language that is offputting to new photographers and so they don’t learn the basics that could make their photographs so much better. Thanks.

    • Jamie

      Thanks Marie! Your comment means a lot to me =)

      My true goal is to teach the basics in the simplest terms possible!

  5. Jeanne @JollyTomato

    Thanks, Jamie! This is very timely for me because I am preparing to buy a new camera – my first SLR! I am mostly focused on food photography so I am really looking at what I can do with small depths of field. Thanks for the handy tips!

    • Jamie

      Jeanne, you will have a blast playing with the aperture for your food photography posts. A key consideration is your background in your shots. Play with colors to see what you can come up with =)

      Looking forward to your future food shots!

  6. Erin

    You will have to take Mary & I out for a photography lesson! lol So we can try some of this stuff out! lol

    • Jamie

      I’m totally up for making a day trip/photography day where we can practice different functions on the camera. I’d even bring my old camera with so you two could utilize it =) and learn the different camera functions.

  7. Holly

    Wow, you learn something new every day, and I could even follow this post and understand what you were talking about, which definitely does not happen often when I venture to photographer’s blogs.

    • Jamie

      This makes me so happy to hear Holly =) This was completely my goal for someone that doesn’t know a whole lot about photography to take something away from the post =) Thank you!

  8. Jennifer

    I practice with this all the time. My problem is trying to find the balance between getting the right amount of light and the right amount of focus.

  9. Lisa D.B. Taylor

    Interesting stuff! Reaffirms I *really* need to get back into using my camera properly. Not just “pointing and clicking” as I’ve been doing of late!

  10. Alexis Grace

    The aperture is one of my favorite things to play with! Great lesson!

  11. Dr. G

    I went to a lecture on photography last week, but this made a lot more sense. Thank you!

  12. Trianna

    I know nothing about photography but I like the way you explained everything, showed examples and really made me feel comfortable enough to try this on my own! Thanks Jamie!

  13. Sarah @ East9thStreet

    Hey Minnesota Girl! Thanks for explaining this in easy to understand terms. I so need to improve my camera and my food photography yet when I go to various cites, I get caught up in all the technical terms!

    • Jamie

      There is so much to know when it comes to photography. What’s good is to focus in on one area until you feel you understand it fully before going onto the next challenge =) I try to talk photography, but in the simplest terms possible so anyone can follow it =)

      There’s a photographer in all of us!!

  14. Kat

    Hi there- stopping over from the SITS link up. I love how simple this explanation is! thank you for sharing.

  15. Chelsea @ Someday I'll Learn

    Oooh, I love that flower photo with the large aperture!

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