Back to timeline
Aperture: What is it?

Aperture is an important aspect of photography. Many just starting out make use of it without knowing exactly what it means or does, but whether you are shooting digital or film, knowing how your aperture will affect your shots can be vital. But what is it? Image by Charles Scott. Think of aperture as the…

Aperture is an important aspect of photography.
Many just starting out make use of it without knowing exactly what it means or does, but whether you are shooting digital or film, knowing how your aperture will affect your shots can be vital.
But what is it?

10110832406_7f79257d24_oImage by Charles Scott.

Think of aperture as the pupil of your eye.

In low light, your pupil dilates and gets bigger to allow more light into your eye, growing smaller when you are in bright light. Your aperture settings on any camera and lens are essentially the same. The wider your aperture setting, the more light is allowed into the sensor, and the more exposed the image. It is important to note that in order to correctly balance the light and exposure whilst using narrow and wide apertures, get used to adjusting your ISO and shutter speed to compensate accordingly.

20870338628_f6a2649b7e_oImage by MariZavarzina

Aperture is measured by the f-stop scale. You can see this on your camera or lens denoted by a small f/ followed by a series of different numbers. Those numbers are key to knowing how wide your aperture is. A typical lens will have gradual settings ranging from f/2.8, through to f/22, although some lenses will often have wider ranges and lower and higher values. Essentially, the lower the number, the wider your aperture will be.

17015540000_fe1e96df73_oImage by Martin Deja

Whilst aperture settings have an impact on the brightness and light balance on photos, perhaps its biggest use is regarding the depth of field (DOF). In simple terms, DOF dictates how blurry the background of your image will be (A shallow DOF will bring your subject into sharp relief against a blurred background, whilst a wide DOF will make the image deeper and the background sharper).

Generally, a shallow DOF is great for portraits and abstracts, with medium and high more well balanced for street and landscape shots.

LandmannalaugarImage by Loïc Lagarde

So, a good guideline is to use larger aperture settings for images where you are aiming to draw attention to something specific, such as classic portraiture, or macro and wildlife images.

Narrower apertures work best when you wish to capture a wide range of detail both in the foreground and background of your image. Think landscapes or architecture shots. Of course, the middle ground works great too, and for a wide range of different photographic styles.

Try mixing up your settings in conjunction with the ISO and focus on your camera to find new angles on your shots!

Written by George Janes

Have some amazing shots you’ve taken while experimenting with aperture? 
Share them with us using the #aperture tag!

Want more information about aperture? Join the conversation in the comments below, or find us on Facebook and Instagram

 

RELATED ARTICLES
The 10 best social media photos on Lobster in 2015
29 December
7 tips for fast & efficient online photo editing from Gravit team
14 January
Winner of #HumanAfterAll and other entries
26 May