The finale in our series of three main photography settings is none other than aperture. Aaah, aperture. You are a most confounding thing sometimes. Larger? Smaller? Which way is it? Well, don’t worry! We’ll be analyzing aperture to get it down to the basics!
Now, you know I like comparisons, so today we’re comparing aperture to the human eye, more specifically, your iris. (That’s the colorful part of your eye!) What does your iris do? It opens and closes depending on the amount of light in your room or situation. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, let’s take it back to 3rd grade science class! Stand outside with a friend on a bright sunny day. Look at their eye. The pupil is so tiny because the iris is very closed. Have you friend cover their eyes with their hands for at least 30 seconds, then uncover them. You’ll see the iris around the pupil go from wide to tiny! Their eyes adjusted to the darkness behind their hands (iris opens) and when exposed to the light again it adjusted to the light (iris closes).click video to play!
All camera lenses have an iris just like your eye! The openness of the iris is denoted in what we call f-stops.
So, aperture is the stop amount to which you adjust the iris, allowing more or less light into the image.
A wide aperture means more light is entering the image. This is denoted by a smaller f-stop number, ex. f/1.4
A smaller aperture means less light entering the image. This is denoted by a larger f-stop number, ex. f/22
You: Why do I need aperture, Vivi?
Me: Good question! I would say the main reason you want to know about aperture is because if impacts the look of your photos via depth of field.
Aperture helps you determine how shallow you want the depth of field in your photo.
Want to focus only on someone’s face and blur out the background? You need a shallow depth of field. How will you get that?
The wider the aperture, the more shallow the depth of field. So, you’d want to have your f-stop at around 1.8 or 2.8! This means you’ll have a good bit of light entering the frame, so you may have to adjust your ISO or shutter speed to get the exposure just right for this image. See how they all tie in together?!
Aperture in a nutshell:
– Affects amount of light entering the image
– Affects depth of field (DoF)
– Denoted by “f-stops”
– wide aperture = smaller f-stop number (1.4) = more light entering = shallower DoF = less in focus
– small aperture = larger f-stop number (22) = less light entering = wider DoF = more in focus