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 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.
Image 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.
Image 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.
Image 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?
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