A PHOTO SERIES: UNDERSTANDING APERTURE

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

OK y'all, today is the FIRST day of a photo series. Are y'all excited yet? I am! Like I said in the first post I am no professional, but I do want to share what I have learned with all of you because I think that any information either it be from a professional or amateur helps a great deal.

Today, we are going to start off talking about APERTURE (F-stop) It is a VERY important part of photography and goes hand in hand with ISO and Shutter Speed, which we will talk about later on. 

What is Aperture? Well, since y'all asked I guess I will tell. Aperture gives pictures those blurry backgrounds everybody loves...YES! I know I love me a nice fuzzy background. Aperture can bring everything in focus or add more dimension by focusing only on your subject. Think about it like a human eye. Our eyes dilate or shrink depending on the amount of light that passes through them. Aperture does the same thing! In photography it is represented by f-numbers (i.e. f/1.8, f/4.0, f/11) or f-stops. This is a way of telling us how large or small the aperture opening is. Unlike our normal value of numbers, though, a lower f-stop has a wider aperture (more light coming in ) and a higher f-stop has a smaller aperture (less light coming in). So, f/1.8 is larger than f/10 when talking about aperture.  Confused yet? I hope not. Just stay with me. To help visualize this a little better I put together a chart for reference. 


What is depth of field? Depth of field is the term used to describe which objects in your photograph are in focus. It is directly related with the size of your aperture (f-stop). A small f-stop number such as f/3.2 will focus more on your subject while making the background blurry (small depth of field) and a large f-stop number such as f/22 will bring your subject and the background all into focus (increased depth of field). Again, refer to the chart above!

NOW for an even more visualized idea of what I am talking about I employed the help of a few of my kiddos toys and some pretty fall foliage to show aperture in action.


SIDE NOTE: your aperture (f-stop) size will also vary by lens. For example, some lenses have a lower f-stop than others. My 50mm f/1.8 has and f-stop of 1.8, but if you look at a kit lens you will notice that the f-stop is only 3.5. Make sure to keep this in mind when purchasing a new lens.

Want some homework? Turn the dial on your DSLR to AV or A mode to practice using aperture. This setting allows you to only control the aperture with the ISO and Shutter Speed being automatic. So, go make some backgrounds blurry!

That pretty much rounds up day 1 of a photo series. What did you think? Did I explain everything in terms you could relate to? PLEASE, if you have any additional tips or information please leave them in the comment section below so we can all HELP each other. xo-ginny



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