Photography for Beginners: Understanding Aperture
Here’s the video lesson, with an explanation of how aperture affects the light in your photograph and also how aperture affects your depth of field (i.e., how much of your photo is in or out of focus):
** Aperture is like the pupil in your eye. It controls how much light is let in and on to your camera’s sensor.
** Aperture is measured in f-stops:
f1.0 f1.4 f2.0 f2.8 f4 f5.6 f8 f11 f16 f22.
** F-stops are essentially the size of the hole in the lens that lets light in. The “2” in f2 is really the bottom of a fraction. When a lens is set to f2, the hole in the lens is 1/2 as big as the lens is long. F4 is ¼ as big as the lens is long. And f22 is 1/22 as big as the lens is long.
** When thinking about which f-stop lets in more light, it might help to think about measuring-cups. Do you want a hole big enough to let in a half cup of light or 1/8 cup of light? Which f-stop lets in more light, f2 or f8?
** Aperture also affects depth of field.
** The wider (larger) the hole the fewer things will be in focus. F2 will give you an image with fewer things in focus than f22.
** One way to help remember your f-stops is to think about the number of things you want in focus. Just two petals on a flower in focus – think f2 or another small f-stop number. Twenty-two flowers in a field in focus – think f22 or a large f-stop number. This might be easier for you to remember than thinking: First, I want only a little in focus, so that means I need a small opening which means a large f-stop number because 1/22 is smaller than ½.
** Remember, 90% of the time, your camera will make a better decision for you than you can make yourself. Put your camera in Program mode so that the flash stays off when you turn it off (flash can often ruin an otherwise saleable shot), and let the camera decide your aperture. The other 10% of the time, know that aperture controls how much light gets into your lens and on to your camera’s sensor and it affects your depth of field – how much of your photo is in sharp focus.
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