Aperture is an opening on your lens (a small hole) that light can travel through to your camera's sensor. There are blades there that can be controlled using the aperture dial on your camera or lens. Closing these blades up means less light will pass through to the sensor. Opening up the blades means more light will pass through.
The Focal Ratio
Aperture is measured using the Focal Ratio (or F-Ratio). An F-Ratio value of f/1.4 is a wide hole compared to f/16, a small hole.
See the aperture chart on top of this page!
Aperture & The Effect of Light
Think of this like your eyelid protecting your eye from harsh sunlight. Squinting will keep the light out, and opening it will let all the light in.
Just like opening your eyelid up wide, using a low aperture number (f/1.4, 2.8 or 3.5) will result in a bright exposure.
A lot like squinting, a high aperture number (f/11, f/16 or f/22) will result in a darker exposure.
Balance this out for a well-lit image!
Aperture & Depth of Field
Depth Of Field: The distance between the nearest "thing" and the furthest "thing" that's in focus. Usually talked about using the terms "shallow" and "large"...
Shallow Depth Of Field
Set your aperture wide (f/1.4, f/2.8 or f/3.5) for a shallow depth of field.
Example - Portraits
Most professional portrait photographers prefer a shallow focus. The subject’s face is in focus, and the rest of the image is out of focus. The idea is to draw the viewer's attention to the subject, not the background. A portrait photographer will use a shallow aperture to get blurry, out of focus background, called bokeh.
Large Depth Of Field
Close your aperture (f/8, f/10 or f/13) for a large depth of field. The objects in the background will be in better focus, sharper and more recognizable.
Example - Landscapes
A landscape photographer will use a larger depth of field to get as much of the scene in focus as possible. They may close their aperture up to f/22 to get all the mountains, clouds, and streams in focus.
By learning and taking control of your aperture setting, you can experiment with light and different depths. You can draw attention to the things that you feel are important!
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