Photography Basics - Aperture - mikecphoto








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Aperture is the part of the lens that lets in light. The technical word is F-Stop. Apertures often range from about F/1.2 (very wide) to F/32 (very narrow).


Wide Apertures

A wide aperture is generally a low number such as F/1.2-F/5.2. The benefits of using a wide aperture are below.

- You can have a faster shutterspeed. This will allow you to shoot in less light. But if it's still too dark you would need to up the ISO or increase the exposure duration. Note if your shutterspeed gets too slow then you may get handshake resulting in a blurry image.

- You would have a smaller depth of field and can introduce a nice bokeh effect (blurred background).

- Wide apertures are good for portraits and isolating objects. See the image below.

F/4  | 1/640 sec | ISO 100

Small note on wide apertures. If you are trying to get a bokeh (blurred background) effect. Unless you are fairly close to the object you won't get much of a bokeh no matter how wide your aperture is. This is because depth of field is relative to the distant to an object and the aperture size. I'll go into this more in the future.

Small Apertures

Small apertures allow a larger depth of field. A small aperture generally would be higher than F/14
Things that happen when you have a smaller depth of field are below...

- Larger depth of field.

- Above F/14 often introduces an attractive starburst effect to lights.

- Good for architecture and landscape shots where many of the objects you want in focus are on different focus planes.

- Often you'll need a tripod if shooting in low light or at night due to slow shutterspeeds.
Light Trails on a Motorway at Dusk

F/14  | 13 sec | ISO 100

Camera mode - Aperture Priority

Generally when I'm out and about, I have my camera set to Aperture priority (AV Canon, A Nikon). A good setting to have is F/8. This generally covers a good depth of fields for sudden shots you may have. You could also set your ISO (camera gain) to auto so as to stop the shutterspeed going too low. A lot of cameras will prioritise shutterspeed then ISO so as to prevent handshake and keep noise to a minimum.

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