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Understanding aperture in photography
Imagine in your mind, how the camera works. For you to make a good photograph, a certain amount of light needs to hit the sensor. Let us assume this amount of light to be hundred units. If the light hitting the sensor lesser than the amount of light required, the photographs will be dark or “underexposed”. Similarly, if the amount of light hitting the sensor is more than the amount of light required, the picture will be over-bright or “overexposed”.
There are two ways of controlling the amount of light hitting the sensor-via the aperture or with the shutter speed.
What is aperture?
The aperture is nothing but the hole in the lens through which the light enters the camera. For the time being, all you need to know about the aperture is that smaller the number [1.4 or 1.8], the bigger the aperture and similarly, the larger the number will [16 or 22], the smaller the aperture or the size of the hole on the lens.
All these numbers are often referred to by using the alphabet F in front of them. So 1.4 is referred to as F1 .4 and 16 is referenced to as F-16. This is just another way of trying to sound cool. There is actually no difference if you say 16 or F-16.
Just remember, the smaller the number-the bigger the whole AND the bigger the number, the smaller the hole. This is all that you need to remember about the aperture. This will become second nature as time goes by but it is crucial that for the time being, you remembered this!!!
The size of the aperture is measured in f-stops, which control the depth of field. With few exceptions, each f-stop lets in half as much light as the next larger opening and twice as much light as the next smaller one. From the largest opening to smallest, standard f-stops are as follows: f/1, f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22, f/32 and f/45. This can be a little confusing because the larger the f-stop, the smaller the amount of light that is let into the camera. The easiest way to think off-stops is in terms of fractions: just as '/i6 is less than l/s, an f-stop of f/16 is smaller than, and lets in less light than, f/8.
You won't find the full range of settings on any one lens. In most cases, the standard lens on a digital camera is in the f/3.5—f/16 range.
The maximum aperture of a lens determines by how much it can be opened. The maximum aperture is also referred to as the maximum iris, or the speed of a lens. Although lenses are referred to by their focal length, the description of a lens also carries a second number, such as 2.0 or 3.5, which indicates the maximum aperture of the lens. Larger maximum apertures, such as f/1.8, let in more light than smaller apertures, such as f/3.2, allowing you to take better shots in low-light situations.
Watch the video below to understand aperture better.
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Learn photography by reading: The Ultimate Photography Guide for Beginners
When you learn photography, it is easy to get confused between the various modes on the camera.
I shoot on A aperture priority mode on my camera 99% of the time (see Aperture).The main reason I do this is because I don't shoot too much of action and sports and thus find no reason to switch to S, shutter priority mode. I also like to control my depth of field or DoF as it is known. In easy terms, depth of field refers to how blurred out your background is, compared to the focus point. This is controlled by the aperture.
How aperture affects photos - Depth of field
To demonstrate this point, enter "The GMAX Team":
I shot the image below on an aperture setting of 1.8 on my camera. The camera automatically set the shutter speed to 1/160th of a sec.
The focus is on Kai, the red Ninja. Notice, that though the difference between the team members is only inches - they have been arranged slightly one behind the other - the policeman, appears to be blurred. The focus gently blurs from Kai, to the policeman's handcuffs and the dog Tommy and Zane, the white Ninja are completely blurred.
For the next shot I changed the aperture setting to f4. The background is gradually beginning to come in focus. The policeman is happy now.
If we make the aperture even smaller by closing it down to f11, the background is almost completely in focus. The eyes of the white Ninja are almost sharp too. You can also make out the form of the chair at the dining table. which was not the case at all when we were shooting at f1.8. Also notice how the stitching on the dining table is in focus BEFORE and AFTER the focus point.
For comparison, here is the first image shot at f1.8 again:
The higher the number of the aperture, more of the background will be in focus. This can be summarised by the graphic below.
You can download a hi-res version of this graphic to your computer or smartphone by adding us to your Google Plus circles. Also watch the video below to understand this concept better and see a practical demonstration of how aperture affects photos and depth of field. If you like the video, please consider subscribing to our channel by clicking here.
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