Getting great light, background, vivid colors and crisp images are the goals of every photographer- and there are three aspects to consider when taking photographs: ISO (which we looked at last week), Aperture and Shutter Speed.
Today we are going to cover aperture- your camera’s lens opening. We will look at how it changes, and why you want to manipulate it to get great photos. We’re going to look at aperture for two weeks- this week we will look at HOW it functions, and next week we’ll look at WHY we want to manipulate it.
This is just going to be a quick introduction to what aperture is, why you need to pay attention to it, and how it works for you.
When I first grabbed an SLR camera (yes, back before digital!!!), I was totally confused at the “f” number I saw on the back, and why I needed to pay attention to it. If you can master setting a proper aperture, you’ll be much closer to taking fabulous photos.
First, let’s quickly find where our aperture settings can be found, and what they mean.
The lowest number you can set your camera to is determined by your lens. You’ll see this number around the rim of your lens, and it will be in the model name when you buy the lens.
For example, a Canon 1.8 50mm lens goes to a 1.8 f-stop on it’s lowest setting. Not all lenses have the same range for their highest and lowest numbers- they feature different aperture settings.
So what do these numbers mean?
The aperture settings determine the width of the opening to your lens. Basically, with a lower aperture, your image is exposed to more light; and with a higher number your image is exposed to less light.
Just imagine your image being captured on film, as it used to be. Remember how if you opened up a camera before the film was all used up it caused the frame to get all washed out? This is the same process we are trying to control with our aperture/ISO/and shutter speed mix.
If we don’t let in enough light, our pictures will be too dark. If we let in too much, they will be completely washed out and white.
So if you are using aperture, along with shutter speed and ISO to control the exposure of your pictures, you will need to remember these two helpful rules:
To bring in MORE light, you need a LOWER number. This will make a BIGGER lens opening, allow you to use a lower ISO when you otherwise couldn’t. This is great for indoor photography, portraits, and craft/glamour photos.
To bring in LESS light, you need a HIGHER number, which makes a SMALLER opening. This is great for a sunny day, landscapes and panoramas, group shots, or any shot you’d like the background to be more in focus.
Homework for this week:
-On manual or Aperture Priority mode, take a picture of the same item in the same place- but change your f-stop on each photo.
-Photograph a small object inside and a person outside. Move the aperture around and use it to make your pictures lighter or darker (keep shutter speed and ISO the same for these- this is just to see how aperture works in your pictures).