Easy Photo Tips: Understanding Aperture.

January 08, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

 

You have most probably read a few tutorials on Aperture. If this is your first, hopefully after reading this, you will understand how it works.

 

Understanding aperture could be quite confusing when someone start to explain how the bigger actually means the smaller. The large apertures have smaller f/stop numbers and smaller apertures have larger f/stop numbers. So f/2.8 is actually a large aperture because it lets in more light onto your camera sensor, and f/11 is a small aperture because it lets in less light onto your camera sensor.

 

To understand this better, have your camera handy and set it to aperture priority. Usually marked with an on the mode dial, below the M. Switch on your camera and set the aperture to it’s smallest setting like f/2, f/2.8 or f/4. Notice how the shutter speed changes when you point your camera from a dark to a bright area. Now hold your camera still, pointed any direction, and change the aperture from f/2.8 (or the smallest number your camera has) to f/11 or higher. This time you will notice the shutter speed decreases. That is because less light (small opening) reaches your camera sensor and more time is needed for the correct exposure. When you change the aperture back to it’s lowest number, the shutter speed will increase again because more light (large opening) reaches the camera sensor.

 

That is the simple part of understanding aperture. Small number (large f/stop, f/2.8) will result in a higher shutter speed and large number (small f/stop, f/11) a slower shutter speed. Easy!

 

The next part about aperture is also the cool part. It allows you to take photos from close-up (macro) to landscapes and you decide what, if not everything, should be in focus. So it determines the Depth of Field (DOF). That amount of your photo that will be in focus.

wasp MushroomsMushrooms

In the photo above, a large aperture of f/2.8 was used, which left only the wasp in focus. The same aperture was used for the photo of the mushrooms and the flower below.

Yellow

And when you want everything in focus, like a landscape photo, you will use a small aperture (large number like f/11). Like the photo below.

Austrian Alps, Austria

An easy way to remember this is to think of aperture or f/stops as focus distance. Smaller numbers = less is in focus. Larger numbers = more is in focus.

 

  Large Aperture                                          Small Aperture

- Small number (f/2.8)                                  - Big number (f/11)

- More light on sensor                                   - Less light on sensor

- Fast shutter speed                                      - Slow shutter speed

- Less in focus                                                - More on focus

 

Now go and play with your camera and don’t forget the composition.

 

A final note:

Compact cameras that are not fully manual can also do close-up (macro) photos. This function is normally displayed with a little flower, but it will not work that well if you try to zoom. Rather move the camera closer or further away until it can focus. You will need to hold your camera anything from 1cm to 20cm from your subject.

When you take landscape photos with an aperture of f/11 for instance, you want to focus about one third into you photo (a third from the bottom) to get everything in focus. An aperture of f/11 and up will also give the lights in your shot a nice starry affect without the need for any filters. Bratislava_UFO bridge 01Bratislava_UFO bridge 01At the top of this bridge, at a height of 80 meters is a restaurant named the UFO. The bridge is suspended of the river at a length of 432m. The Pylon bridge was declared the construction of the year in Europe in 2001.

Amman, Jordan

 


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