Friday, September 9, 2011

Aperture Made Easy Part 2 - Free Chart

Ask for your free aperture chart ( see chart below) by emailing me at It will help you tremendously in understanding how to fine tune your photography no matter what type of camera you use! 

Aperture is the size of the opening in your camera lens. You or your camera, depending on what setting you use, can change the size of the opening. 

Think of being in a dark room. Your pupil will be wide open to let in more light.  Go out doors on a sunny day and your pupil narrows letting less light in.

Like the pupil of your eye, the opening in your camera lens can open and close to let more or less light in.

This is important information to understand no matter what type camera you use from Point & Shoot to dSLR.

In the 3 color photos below notice the f-stop under each photo. Also notice how much of the photo is in sharp focus vs. how much is blurred. This is called depth of field and will be discussed in my next post.


On a dSLR camera, you can control the aperture size in several ways.
You can let the camera make the aperture choice for you by using your various automatic modes. Or you can choose the aperture setting by shooting in manual mode or using aperture priority mode.

Aperture settings are called f-stops. F-stops are numbers that relate to how wide open or how narrow your lens opening is. This means how much or how little light is entering your camera. F-stops typically run from f/2 to f/16. See chart at bottom of post.


F-stops are a bit confusing at first. But remember that a large f-stop (where lots of light enters your lens) is a smaller number. A small f-stop (where less light enters your lens) is a larger number. Aperture = f-stop.

Keep reading – it get’s less confusing, I promise.

Remember: Lower number aperture like f/1.4 = more light.
Remember: Higher number aperture like f/8 = less light.

So, in the image below, f/1.4 is open (“wide”) and is letting more light in and f/8 is small (“narrow”) and letting less light in to your camera’s sensor. 1.4 is a lower number than 8. 2.8 is a lower number than 8. 8 is a lower number than 16 or 22. See chart below and at bottom of post.

Choosing the correct aperture, f-stop:

Since the f-stop determines how much light gets into your lens to your sensor, if the OPENING is large (like f/2) lots of light gets in and if the OPENING is smaller (like f/16) little light gets in.


Remember: Lower number aperture like f/2    = more light.
Remember: Higher number aperture like f/16 = less light.

See chart below - 

In my next post I will discuss why aperture, or f-stop, is so important. I’ll also give you tips on which f-stops to use for various lighting situations. 

Next time we will also start discussing how shutter speed and ISO tie into f-stop/aperture.

Read this post over a few times. Digest it, memorize the f-stop configurations, it’s not difficult. Really…..honest!

Here's a link to my post Introduction to Aperture . Give it a quick read as a refresher. 

Ask me any questions regarding aperture in your comment box. 

Also, feel free to post a photo of your own for all of us to share. Click the + sign in the lower left corner of your open comment box to upload a photo. Click on uploaded thumbnail to enlarge for viewing. If you see a photo in a comment box, be sure and visit that person’s blog and leave a comment – we all appreciate those. Your photo can be of anything that strikes your fancy.

Now - go email me at and ask for your free Aperture Charts - you'll receive both of these as handy reference guides. Print them and keep them in your camera bag. 

Happy clicking!


Jpbrandanophoto said...


Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Wrapping my head around f-stops was a challenge - and that was when I was young and studying photography in college. Glad it sunk in then :D

Abhisek--The Invisible Art said...

Really helpful post.Thanks for sharing the info with us.

Absurdtraveller said...

Great post, very helpful. There is a lot of info on the net about this kind of thing but most is confusing. You made it really clear. 

wan maznah cooking varieties said...

hi mari, the f-stop is very easy to remember and understand the logic of it, when you present this in a chart form, i  will just have to think in terms of fractions ( i was an accountant :) )  shown in the chart, to permanently remember...thanks for that. 
what was that again- manual mode or aperture priority mode >must remember this term :)

DangerousLinda said...

very helpful and easy to understand.  i appreciate the way you keep repeating certain things over and over like  "Remember: Lower number aperture like f/2 = more light..."  etc.  Haha!  Seriously!

I would like to share a link to your post on my FB page as well -- thanks, Mari ;-)   

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

So glad you enjoyed it and thank you for commenting. 

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Yes, there is a lot of info on the web and I agree that it is very confusing. I try to keep my posts very simple and concise and write for beginner to advanced hobbyists. Many advanced photogs don't understand aperture :D

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Hi Wan - I was an accountant for years also :D I worked for a large architectural firm. That was fun - seeing all the buildings and homes being designed. 

Once people can understand the confusing part of f-stops it's easy. :D

teamgsquare said...

Wonderful tips ,Thanks for sharing wonderful information .

melissatandoc said...

Oh thanks Mari. You made it easier for me to understand by using the pupil parallelism with the lens. That's just about it. I just need a real cam to do that ;)...

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

I'll be doing a post about buying a dSLR camera in about a month. It will be a post you might want to print for reference. :D

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

You're welcome. I love teaching about photography.

Rogueartist said...

Mari, my father taught me this years ago, but I definitely needed a refresher course!  Thanks!

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

WoW!! Your attached photography is stunning. The colors are so striking and I love the composition and the reflection of the ferris wheel in the water. Aperture can be difficult to grasp because of the configuration of the f-stop numbers. I had to write it over and over when I was in photography school to "get" it lol.  I'll visit your FB page and see if I can post a link. 

Michael Long said...

Mari,  You have a great way of explaining the f-stop system.  Your doing a great job.

Sarah-Jane Klemis said...

I needed this last month for my assignment but even though I completed it, reading this here has really helped give me some more clarity, Thank you. Plus I just got stuck on the picture of the pooch - so adorable :)

Sarah-Jane Klemis said...

If you have anything on grey card and white balance - I'll be all ears :D

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Glad it helps!

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Thanks Michael - f-stops are confusing at first.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

So glad this post helped. What class are you taking? Is it Seeing the Light? The pooch is my West Highland White Terrier, Sir Rob Roy of Mayhem - and the "mayhem" part fits lol. 

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Next is depth of field, shutter speed and ISO. Then white balance and grey card. :D 

Dawn said...

I am interested to learn more about black and white images - no idea if that's the same thing as white balance and gray card.  Each time I come here, I can feel my dyslexic tendencies freeze up and try to freak out, but you explain everything so well that it eventually makes sense!  Loving you for that, Mari! :)

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Dawn, white balance and the use of a grey card are different than taking black and white images. White balance has to do with lighting.  Can you set white balance to "automatic" on your camera? On most Point and Shoot Cameras it will be set automatically. As far as black and white - some cameras have a b&w setting some do not. Photography editing software will have a conversion setting from color to b&w. If you'd like, email me at and let me know the make and model of your camera and whether or not you use editing software. I'll be happy to give you some tips. You can also PM me on FaceBook. Include some photos if you'd like. I'll be doing posts on various forms of editing in a couple of months.  My brother-in-law is severely dyslexic and is a self-taught photog. He's been taking photos about 4 yrs. He does some amazing work - N02/sets/
Hope to hear from you.