When I began my journey in learning photography, one of the first tasks that I learned was how properly using aperture could have a dramatic impact on the quality of my photos.
Aperture is a term that should be familiar to anyone who does photography. It is one of the most basic and widely used aspects of camera settings, but it can make a huge difference in the quality of your pictures. In this article, we will discuss what aperture is and how you can use it to take better pictures.
What Is Aperture?
Aperture is the term used to describe how much light hits your camera sensor and passes through the lens. It can be thought of as a hole that opens and closes, controlling how much light enters into the camera body. Your aperture settings will likely show up on your camera in terms of an f-stop value (ie: “f/16” or “f/18”).
Aperture values are measured using a mathematical equation that relates to the focal length of your lens and how wide it opens when taking a picture. A lower number (ie: f/11) will result in more light coming into your camera, while higher numbers (ie: f/22) will allow less light to come in.
The reason aperture values are called f-stops is because they relate to powers of the focal length value (ie: if you have a 30mm lens set at an aperture or “f/16”, it will be opening up 16 times wider than your camera’s default).
The aperture is important for photography. It controls how much light comes into the camera and what part of the image is in focus. You can use this to control the picture by allowing more or less light at different f-stop values, which will result in either a blurry background (with a low aperture value) or an image that is darker
How Can I Use Aperture?
Aperture can be used to control how much of your photo will look in focus. This isn’t always good, like when you want to take a close-up picture of something and it is blurry because you used the wrong setting. But usually, it’s what people want – then the foreground and background both look clear.
Although there are no specific rules about how much light should pass through at different f-stop values, most professionals agree that you should use lower numbers (ie: f/16 or below) when photographing something up close. This will ensure your subject is in focus while also allowing enough light to pass through for it to be properly exposed.
When using aperture as a tool to control depth of field within an image, higher numbers (ie: f/16 and above) should be used to take pictures of things that are far away. This will ensure your entire image is in focus, which can result in a nice even look for landscapes or other large objects within the frame.
Depth of field – what does it do and how can I control it
Aperture, which is measured in f-stops (such as f/22), controls how much light reaches the camera’s sensor and therefore where your focus falls on an image. The lower the aperture number, such as f/16, or even better yet, use a larger aperture like f/11 to get a really deep depth of field, the more things in your photo will be sharp.
Aperture is one of the primary tools for controlling depth in a photo and can be used to blur out anything that you don’t want in focus, such as the foreground or background.
One of the most popular uses of the aperture is the Bokeh effect. Bokeh is when the subject of your photograph is in focus, while the background is out of focus. This is done by using a wide aperture such as f/4 to f/1 allowing more light into your camera. The example above was done at an aperture of f/5.6 with a Nikon D3200 using an 18-55mm kit lense. This shows you that you do not need an expensive camera or lens to achieve this effect.
Focal length and perspective
Focal length and perspective are two other topics that should be discussed. First, let’s talk about focal length and what it means for your photography. The way you use this setting will depend on if you are taking a portrait or landscape shot. If the photo is of someone far away (landscape), then avoid using wide-angle lenses because they distort your subject’s face. Using a telephoto lens will keep the subject’s features close to normal and that is important if you want your portraits to look flattering.
What about perspective? Perspective can be difficult because it changes based on where the camera is placed in relation to an object or person, but there are some general rules of thumb: Experiment with different perspectives and see what works best for each shot. For example, if you want to take a portrait of someone that is facing away from the camera then use an angle that puts them off-center in the frame (e.g., slightly left or right) — especially when using wide-angle lenses; this will make your subject stand out more against the background and help the viewer notice them right away.
Aperture priority mode (A or Av on a DSLR)
When your camera is in automatic mode, you are letting it make all of the choices for your camera’s settings. The images that you will receive will not always be what you wanted. If you use the Aperture priority mode, you are controlling how much light the camera sensor receives, and you are allowing the camera to set the shutter speed based on the aperture setting or the f-stop.
Aperture priority mode (A or Av on a DSLR) is where you control the aperture and your camera handles everything else for you. It’s best to use this mode when shooting portraits or stationary objects because of how selective it can be with its focus, allowing you to better express yourself creatively instead of worrying about other settings on your DSLR.
You can change the aperture priority mode on a DSLR by rotating the main dial (if you’re looking through your viewfinder, this is what it will look like) and selecting A or AV depending on which brand of camera you have. This setting allows for more creative freedom than automatic modes because you control things like depth of field, which is what aperture priority mode focuses on.
- If you are using a Canon or a Sony camera turn the mode dial to Av to set the camera to the Aperture priority mode.
- If you are using a Nikon camera turn the mode dial to A to set the camera to the Aperture priority mode.
In aperture priority mode, you can control what your lens is focused on and how much light it captures by changing the size of the opening in your lens – which directly affects exposure.
Exposure compensation (EC) for tricky lighting situations
If you find yourself in a tricky lighting situation, where the subject is too bright or too dark and the camera’s meter doesn’t seem to be adjusting for these differences. The first thing that I recommend trying is using EC (Exposure Compensation). You can do this by:
– Pressing the +/- button on your rear camera dial until you get a “+/-” symbol in the viewfinder. This denotes EC is enabled and that you can use it to brighten or darken your shot.
– Move left for darker, right for brighter – this will vary depending on which way lock/unlock the exposure compensation button is set
– To lock exposure, press and hold +/- for three seconds – this will allow you to keep EC locked in place. If it’s unlocked, the camera might revert back to its original metering settings when you switch modes or turn off/on your camera
– If you find that EC is not working, check to ensure it’s enabled by pressing +/- and then looking on your rear camera dial. Ensure the “+/-” symbol is there – if so, you’re good to go!
So, in the end, it all comes down to what you want your picture to look like. If you’re happy with a blurred background and large depth of field for that artsy feel then choose an aperture close to F11 or higher. However, if your goal is capturing people’s faces without any distractions behind them, lower the f-stop so more light can enter through the lens and give less focus on anything else outside of your subject’s face. It’s up to you! Let us know which type of photoshoot do you prefer and we’ll help you get there! Learning photography is a journey, for information on the exposure triangle please take a look at my post.