Aperture | Summer Photo Challenge08.20.12

This week I am going to start into the all important technical equation that accounts for most of the light that you capture in an image.  The next three posts will be Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.  These three factors must work together to ensure that you have enough light hitting the sensor to create an image.  When you are working in manual mode each of these three factors will need to be considered in relation to each other.  So this whole equation will not really come together for a couple of weeks.  If you are uncertain how to work these factors together and this seems too much for this week…break it down by shooting in Aperture mode.  This way you will be able to adjust the aperture to see the various results and the camera will adjust the other variables to produce an image.

What is aperture?

It is the size of the opening on the lens that allows light in.  It will also be called the f-stop.  The smaller the f-stop (number) the larger the hole and in turn the more light that is getting in.  The aperture (f-stop) will also affect how much of the picture is in focus.  This is called the depth of field.  This means that the smaller the f-stop the narrower the plane that is in focus.  The larger the f-stop number the deeper the field of focus.  You do have to remember though that as more of the image is in focus, the less light that is hitting the sensor as this hole is getting smaller (can be likened to squinting).  This would be where the other two factors would have to come into play to compensate for less light or extra light.  The following (handwritten and iPhone pic- sorry:) diagram will depict how the size of the hole corresponds to the numbers.


Here are some examples with a larger f-stop (smaller opening).  You will want to have a higher number (larger f stop) for group pictures as well as for landscapes so that you have a large part of the image in focus.  The following shots have been done at f7.1 and f11 respectively.

calgary family photo1calgary family photo2

You would want to use a small f-stop (or shoot wide open) if you wanted to focus the viewers eye on a certain area of the photo.  The shallower depth of field will blur out a distracting background.  It is a nice effect to soften an image as well.  The following have been shot at 2.2, 2.0, 2.8, 5.6 and 3.5 respectively.  You can see here that focal length and distance from a subject will also come into play but I want to keep this fairly simple.  I hope that does note get too confusing.  It is best to begin playing with your camera and your lens starting with varying apertures and then you can start to see how other factors come in (like moving closer to the subject or zooming in and then later adding the other variables to the equation).


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Have fun shooting this week and I look forward to seeing your images!

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