A is for Aperture

33 posts / 0 new
Last post
A is for Aperture

When I started teaching myself photography, I quickly learned that controlling the Aperture was what was going to give me that "emotional" element to my pictures that I wanted, either that blurry dreamy background or sharp and crisp.

A big aperture -- or a big opening (which confusingly is a low f-stop number, like f.2) makes for a shallow depth of field (dof) or blurry background --great for portraits.

And a small aperture (high f-stop number, f.22) makes for a clear and crisp background, better for those landscape shots usually.

If you are starting out trying to learn the basics of photography, I would start with aperture and get really comfortable with that concept and how to control that on your camera. The other thing I would do is read your camera manual about 1000 times so you will know how to set that without having to stop and think about where the button is and which way to turn the dial.

Here's a link to a great tutorial which explains aperture: DPS Explains Aperture

And this is a cool simulator which visually explains aperture: Aperture Simulator

Here's a photo my Dad took of me when I was small, the low f-stop adding to my far-off gaze.

love love love that shot - the kind of pic every parent wants of their kiddo!

Can you even remember what you were pondering over

@Marisa: I can tell it is a radio flyer red wagon... I use to put my arm through the hand pull the same way as you are in the photo.... BUT not because I was pondering, it was so my brothers couldn't grab it and start pulling me around the yard real fast and flip me out of it. LoL

@Tina: absolutely love that aperture simulator site. This would have come in so handy for learning how the dof was affected by the f-stop when I first started to learn on my camera, I was so confused. And that was back when we shot everything in 35mm (no digital cameras) We couldn't see the end result until we developed our film. I used slide film a lot too so I could totally get the effect of coloring, too... because a lot of labs (like Walmart, etc) do their own auto color correcting when printing photos. smiley

I am still trying to figure out my digital camera. This sight really helps. Thanks.

Great explanation Tina!!

I used to think of aperture in this aspect: if the lens is your eyeball, the aperture behaves like your pupil... the darker it is in the room, the larger your pupil gets (its fun to watch this happen while looking in a mirror and turning the lights on and off!!). In order to get more light into the camera, the aperture needs to be wider (more open, higher, small f-stop #, whatever you wanna call it). If the room is already lit well enough, the aperture doesn't need to be as wide (less open, lower, large f-stop #).

And yet ALL of this is directly related to shutter speed and ISO (or film speed if you're using film)... so what should your lens aperture be set at? Depends on what your shutter speed and ISO is set at...

Thank you so much for the explanation! I think now I understand this.

Here is one I took last month. I've had my Olympus for two months now and love that I can now do shots like this!

@Emily - I love that shot.

I definitely have to learn so much about photography. Hope I will find some more useful hints here smiley. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

One Shot I love so much (I do a lot of stuff without any knowledge...just "hey...this looks great...shot!" smiley :

@Isa - love how the yellow flower pops out of the purple background. nicely done. i am a big fan of the "oh hey, this looks great" approach. smiley

Great photos! Thanks for sharing.

@Isa that looks great! I am the same way, shoot until you see what you like!

My favorite lens for creating a narrow depth of field is the canon 50 mm 1.8.

@Larisa I have the Nikor version of that lens and I love it too. It's super fast. Although sometimes I get the DOF too shallow and I get the nose in super sharp focus but the eyes and everything beyond is blurry -- which makes for a very, umm, "interesting" shot! It was also an adjustment to get used to a prime lens, but I do love the results I can get with it.

I can remember when my girls were little I would accidently get shots like this and think ugh...more feet (because they were always on the move) and I see them now and I love these shots. Great picture..I love it smiley

thanks for those websites. the simulator is very interesting. you are right, i should really read the manual but my camera's manual comes in a CD so it's not that easy to just keep going over it (too much distraction when i'm on the computer!)

@peggy aplSeeds - I know what you're saying about your CD camera. That would never work for me. I need to flip the pages and highlight to learn.

i had my trusty fuji finepix since my daughter was in 2nd grade (shes 20 now) but sadly the flash went , sometimes it would work and sometimes... when i really needed it lol... it wouldnt. so i got a newer version of it, but the controls are different so i have ben trying to figure them out. thanks for that visual site im looking at it as we speak

I get confused by all of the different settings. My son showed me the basics and I leave it on auto focus. My Fuji takes great pics even in the auto mode.

The lens that got me into shooting in the manual or AV modes was the 50mm 1.8 - Once you start learning what it's like to shoot wide open, you'll love it smiley

One thing I tell people that is easy to remember when choosing an aperture is the SMALLER the number (like 1.8) the LESS things you'll have in focus (for example, on a portrait you'll get an eye or a nose in focus depending on how close you are), the LARGER the number (like f8), the MORE things you'll have in focus (like whole faces, etc).

@Isa: hey, what camera do u use? the result looks really nice. I'm new with photography, I only use digital camera, can I get that kind of shot?

@Tina Anderson: Thank you for those links and this thread. The simulator is very helpful!

@Luanne Bowers - You are SO welcome! I'm glad you are here! smiley

That is a gorgeous shot!!! (It also makes me happy because it's predominantly LSU colors...hee hee!)

The depth of field is fantastic. smiley

Thank you so much for this great information. I have some very important pictures to take in the near future, and I'm attempting to soak up as much info before that time!

@Keisha Dawson - I hope you will come back here and let us know how it went and maybe share a few! Good luck!

Thank you Tina - I used to have all this sussed back when we had film cameras - we inherited an old camera from my husband's Grandad and he had a lovely table of compatable settings and uses taped into the case that he had put together himself. Sadly the camers (plus case) was stolen when we were travelling on a train.

Since going digital I use the auto settings too often and the actual settings are fading into an ever-aging memory recess!! smiley Here's one taken on a low f number (text and snowflakes added later of course). For those of us cheating with the auto settings - use the portrait setting in good light and try to make sure the background is far enough away to be out of focus. Even in auto my camera still tells me what f stops it is using and you can learn by making note of that.

Marisa - that is a beautiful photo! I too would love to know what you're thinking.

Emily - love the feet - very atmospheric. I like feet too and the backs of people walking away.

Isa - stunning!! Most of my shots are an educated guess and a lot of luck LOL Fortunately for me, digital lets us just keep clicking till we think we have something we like smiley

I love the owl!