Thursday, August 25, 2011

Aperture Made Easy


Introduction to Aperture - Part 1.



In this introduction to aperture I’m covering the bare bones basics of aperture, f-stops and depth of field (dof). As I go on with this series I’ll go into detail on aperture, shutter speed and ISO. I’ll break it down in small bites so it’s easy – honest! Your photos will thank you immensely if you follow along.

For simplicity sake, let’s consider aperture numbers from f/2 to f/16.
It’s a bit confusing so don’t go glassy eyed on me. A small f-stop is f/16 and a large f-stop is f/2 with a bunch of f-stops in-between. This is important to memorize. See the Lens Aperture Chart below. Why is 16 smaller than 2? Looking at the Chart below, you can see that f/16 has a tiny grey dot in the middle and f/2 is completely grey. These grey areas represent the amount of light the lens lets into the camera at these settings. The amount of light that enters the camera's lens has a huge impact on your photos. 

Aperture, or f-stop, helps control:
  • How much light enters your camera.
  • Depth of field (DOF).

Don’t let me lose you here but a very low number like f2.8 is called a large aperture opening. See the Lens Aperture Chart below. We’ll cover this in each series on aperture.


Depth of field is how much of your photo is in focus vs. how much is blurred.

Want a blurred background? Use an aperture like f/2 for a narrow depth of field (dof).  Portraits are especially nice using a narrow dof. The narrow dof in a portrait draws the viewers attention to the subject not the image background.


Distracting backgrounds are also a great reason to use a narrow dof. The background in this photo would have been of parked cars if I'd used a wide dof.




Apertures like f/16 and f/22 are called small or narrow aperture openings giving you maximum or wide depth of field, where everything is in focus. Again, see the Lens Aperture Chart.






Again, a very low number like f/2 is called a large aperture opening and gives a narrow (blurred) depth of field.  An f-stop like f/16 is called a narrow aperture opening and gives a wide depth of field with little or no blur. See the Lens Aperture Chart below. We’ll cover this in each series on aperture.

Simply put, for this first lesson, aperture controls light and blur or lack of blur in your photo. More detail to come next lesson.





I’ll let you digest this, and next time, more on aperture setting and coordinating with Shutter Speed setting.

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52 comments:

Jan said...

Awesome, now if I could just figure out my camera we'd be okay!!!!

eileenludwig said...

Great Mari, Love technical photo tips too - I find many home photo togs need the basics of just creating a good composition and that is where my photo tips takes them
come post your link

http://www.eileenludwig.com/shadows-enhance-walkway-town-country-resort-san-diego-california/

Syed Alfandi said...

this is a very good tip for beginners..your explanation is simple and concise..people who are used to auto settings should grasp this to elevate their skill.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

That can be the hard part. :D Get your manual out and read about aperture priority mode - it's a semi-auto mode and a great way to go. I'll be posting about it.

Nelieta Mishchenko said...

Excellent tips Mari especially for beginners. Thank you for sharing this with us.

debra elramey said...

Not being a photographer myself, I’m passing this along.  Me?  I just enjoy the photos, and stand in awe of your talent and expertise.   

lakwatsera de primera said...

I agree with memorising the standard f-stops, understanding exposure compensation became easier for me after getting familiar with it.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Hi - I'm following your blog. Thank you for the invitation to post my link. Will do the same for you :D

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Thank you Syed. I'm hoping to move at least some of my followers who are  beginners to photography out of the auto modes. 

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

You're welcome Nelieta. Aperture, ISO and Shutter Speed can be confusing unless taken slowly. I've got a whole series planned.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Thank you Debra. There's always the auto modes for those who enjoy taking lovely photographs as a hobby. 

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

It can be difficult to get your head around :D

Dawn said...

Anytime that I think I want to get a serious, professional camera and start fiddling around, it's this level of stuff that keeps me from taking that step.  I just don't have the discipline necessary, or the interest, in the really technical side of it all.  I do want to eventually get a better camera, just so that I can take better quality photographs.  F-stops and all the other stuff, I'll leave to you awesomely inspiring true professionals! :)

Michael Long said...

I just joined up as a follower.  I retired many years ago as a photographer,  Back in the film days,  And now I'm getting the need to get back into it as a hobby.  Got a dslr on order and then the fun begins.
You have a wonderful blog.  Thank you, Michael's Kitchen

wan maznah cooking varieties said...

hi mari, at last i can digest what aperture really is.. tho i have heard of it a long time ago :)  
For a very busy person like me, having to give priorities to work rather than attending a proper photography school, learning in bits through your website is a great alternative- this  so practical and effective. 
i am sure there's a lot out there who can benefit from this .i believe in time it will multiply. many thanks mari for the tutorial- simply noble and sweet of you to do this. have a great weekend.

Jpbrandanophoto said...

When I first started the whole small number large opening would confuse me lol.

You really do provide a great service to new photographers.. You have  a great talent for  making the info flow smoothly!!


http://jpweddingphotograpy.blogspot.com/2011/08/photographing-candid-childrens-photos.html

Rogueartist said...

Mari, this is a wonderful beginning to your series.  I am sending your site to photography buffs whom I know.  They will love it!!

teamgsquare said...

Wow , thanks for these amazing teachings.

Sandra's Easy Cooking said...

I am first time on your site and I have to say "thank you" for sharing this..it is very helpful and interesting! 

whatstruckme said...

Ahha now this is what i am talking about  - the real nitty gritties that  always had my head reeling and leaving  me with a blank(read 'lost') expression on my face. I read and re-read your post and i think i am finally getting it.Looking forward to more.Thanks Mari!!!

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Dawn, there are some amazing Point and Shoot Nikon and Canon cameras available. They offer several auto settings like macro and zoom. My Olympus P&S offers an auto menu including indoor lighting, fireworks, beach scenes, fast action, night scenes and several others. I just set the mode on that camera and click away. I use it when horseback riding or in other situations where I don't want to risk damage to my expensive dSLR. I think they are great cameras. My posts on composition, etc. apply to P&S and iPhone cameras as well as dSLRs :D 

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Michael, thank you for joining. I miss the film days and just found my old Minolta film camera. I may try shooting some b&w for fun. I hope my blog will help you with your journey into dslr. I love your recipes btw!

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Wan, thank you for the encouraging words. We've been busy trying more of the recipes offered on your blog. With my son's wedding coming up in November and our large family reception several of the dishes featured on your blog will be offered to the guests. :D

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Thank you. It is hard for most people to get around the small number large opening and what all that means (my next post) lol. Next up is how those numbers, and the light that hits the lens, affects the image.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Thank you! I started my blog with months of tips on shooting in the auto modes for beginners. Now into something more advanced but I will keep posting for those with Point and Shoot cameras as well.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

It really improves the quality of your photography if you have a dSLR and can move away from the various auto modes into the semi-auto or manual modes. But I will still be teaching general tips for everyone to include Point & Shoot and now iPhones which are becoming so popular. 

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Hi Sandra, thank you for stopping by. I also post for those who use Point and Shoot cameras and iPhone cameras. Lots of tips to teach! I love it. 

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

I'm taking it very slowly with aperture, shutter speeds, ISO, etc. It is confusing so I'm boiling it down to bare-bone basics to begin with. I will continue to post information for those who use Point & Shoot cameras and iPhones which have become so popular.

Jim McIntosh said...

Thanks for this Mari. Bookmarked so I can reference this easy.
http://holesinmysoles.blogspot.com/2011/08/this-moment-friday-26th-aug.html

Sailor said...

Wow! This is something entirely new for me!

Annie (Lady M) x said...

Hello Mari, blimey - you are a proper photographer unlike me who always has my camera set on 'auto'. I do have a new camera (a Canon Powershot S95) with all those f settings on it. I shall follow your posts and try and learn how to use them!

FAYE said...

Yeah, I've been wondering how do some photographers do that. Now I know .. Hahaha. I have to take note of those once I already have my own camera. :)

AJ said...

I've always wondered how a blurred background is achieved. Sometimes I get a fluke and the DOF is appropriate for the subject. Most times I just miss it totally. This post helped me so much in understanding aperture. You're my photography angel, Mari!!!

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

FAYE has left a new comment on your post "Aperture Made Easy": Yeah, I've been wondering how do some photographers do that. Now I know .. Hahaha. I have to take note of those once I already have my own camera. :) 

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Hi Annie - since your camera is new to you I suggest you look over some of my back posts on shooting on automatic and composition. I always recommend starting slowly so confusion doesn't turn to total frustration and a new camera being tossed out the car window/over a cliff :D If you have any questions let me know. I'm always here to help.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Sailor - do you have a Point and Shoot or a dSLR? I have one of each. The reason I ask is that am trying to gear my posts to owners of both types of cameras. This post is for dSLR owners but it is good information to understand.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

I'm going to publish a couple of printable charts for reference. They will be the right size for carrying in a camera bag, especially if laminated. :D 

Junia said...

hi mari! how has the healthy eating been going? thanks for the blog comment! i seriously need to start learning more about aperature and shutter speed. you are the expert!

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Junia has left a new comment on your post "Aperture Made Easy": hi mari! how has the healthy eating been going? thanks for the blog comment! i seriously need to start learning more about aperature and shutter speed. you are the expert! 

Jessica Mokrzycki said...

Some great info, written in an easy to understand way that someone like me could even comprehend! Thanks :) I loved the pics, escpecially the first one. Such detail! I love how you can see the light dancing on the surface..are those pepper? Not sure..or some exotic flower or plant? Looked really intriguing. A lot of your photos remind me of zen. They just capture everything in one image.

Anu Shoj said...

Thanks for stopping by my space....

My first time here....

OMG!... You are amazing....love your pics and the explanation......I have started to learn photography...your blog would be a great help...thanks Mari....

Happy to follow you too.....will keep visiting .....

Sweepy Jean said...

Lovely, Mari. I'm always struck by the clarity of your photos.

Swati said...

I dont understand the technical stuff, but your pictures take my breath away Mari!! Beautiful!!

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Yes they are peppers. Thank you for your lovely words! 

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Most of my posts are for beginners with a few thrown in for more advanced photographers. If you have time, read back over my posts on compoistion. They will help you tremendously in taking beautiful photos.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Thank you - anyone can do it no matter what type of camera they have. It just takes learning some basic techniques. :D

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Thank you. I appreciate you comment.

melissatandoc said...

I think I understood it more together with the images you've presented. Although, I have to review it again to digest it :P...Thanks for making things easier to comprehend :)

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Keep following - it will become clearer as I post more on aperture.

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Michael Long said...

Mari, Here is a picture that I just took a few days ago,  might be a rep showing F-stops etc.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Awesome!! Can't wait to see your new photo page!