Getting to know how aperture works and how it can impact in your photography, is essential to taking great photos. It's also essential in helping one express themselves through their photos.
HOW IT WORKS
Aperture affects the image in two ways. Aperture is the opening and closing of the lens which controls the amount of light that comes into your camera and how much of the image will be in-focus or out-of-focus. Here's the breakdown on how it works...
Aperture is measured in f -stops. Typically, values (or numbers) can range from f /1.4 – f /22.
The bigger the f -stop number is, the more your image will be in-focus and less light comes in resulting in a darker image.
The lower the f-stop number is, the more out-of-focus your image's background will be and the picture will be brighter.
The control that the aperture has over what gets in-focused and out-of-focus is called "Depth of Field".
DEPTH OF FIELD (DoF )
Digging a little deeper into what we explained above about how aperture works, "Depth of Field" is a term used to describe how much of the image is in-focus and out-of-focus.
Now combining the explanation above, about how aperture works and what depth of field is:
The bigger the f-stop number is, the more your image will be in-focus (or will have a deeper depth of field) and less light comes in resulting in a darker image.
The lower the f-stop number is, the more out-of-focus your image's background will be (or will have a shallow depth of field) and the picture will be brighter.
The aperture of a lens, as we learned, opens and closes. The opening aperture is referred as the "Maximum" aperture and the closing aperture as the "Minimum" aperture.
SMALL (MINIMUM) APERTURE & BIG (MAXIMUM) APERTURE
Knowing what the minimum aperture and maximum aperture is, is important when buying a good lens.
The perfect comparison for aperture is the human eye. Essentially, your lens is imitating your eyes. When we're in a very dark place, our pupils (the dark middle part of our eye) dilate or widen to let more light into our retinas to see better. When we're in bright sunlight, our pupils gets smaller to block out the excess of light.
Now imagine that for one moment. When our pupil widens, it gets big. It's the same as using a small f -stop number like f /1.4 but since the aperture (or the opening of the lens) is wide open at f /1.4, it's referred as a "Maximum" aperture.
Since a small f-stop number is considered a maximum aperture, then a big f-stop number is considered small or minimum aperture. To put it more simpler, small f-stop number is BIG and big f-stop number is SMALL.
Small is big & big is small.
Small f-stop number = Big or Maximum Aperture
Big f-stop number = Small or Minimum Aperture
So when you look at a lens (like a Nikon 70-200mm f /2.8), you can say that the maximum aperture is f /2.8 and the minimum aperture is f/22. In other words, this lens is saying that the biggest or maximum the aperture can open is at f /2.8 and the smallest or minimum the aperture can close is at f/22.
TIPS ON USING APERTURE
Here are some quick tips where you can effectively use the correct aperture to get better photos:
- When you want to blur the background of your subject, try using a small f -stop number like f/1.8 or f/2.8.
- When you want to take a photo of a landscape, try using a big f -stop number like f /8, f /11 or even f /22.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND APERTURE
Like we mentioned in the beginning, understanding how aperture works is essential in helping one express themselves through their photos and get better photos.
So go out there and shoot and remember... Be Creative. Envision. Capture.