Aperture Photography for Beginners

Aperture photography. It is using the correct aperture for the image/shot. To achieve this, knowing aperture is important. It is one of the three components of the exposure triangle. Some of beginning photographers wanted to know what aperture is. They find a lot of articles that discuss aperture. The problem is that some articles are too technical and scientific. Let me discuss with you what it is and how you could make a better image using this information.

Basically, aperture in photography is one of the important things to learn in achieving better photos. This should come in balance with its gang, the ISO and the shutter speed. It is quite technical to discuss aperture but to make things simpler, it is defined as the ratio of the focal length to the diameter of the lens’ opening. The bigger the ratio, the wider it gets.

For example 1/1.8 (assuming 1 is the focal length though there is no lens with 1mm focal length, just to make it simple) is wider than 1/5.6 because the ratio 0.556 is bigger than 0.179. The ratio expresses how wide the opening in the lens. The wider the opening is, the more amount of light can enter resulting to brighter image. It is written with the letter “f” such as f/1.8, f/2.0, f/2.8, f/3.5, etc. so it is called the “f-stop”. To easily determine which aperture is brighter or dimmer without computing the ratio, it is familiarly said that the lower the “f-stop” number, the bigger or wider the aperture is. Like in this example: f/8 has a lower “f-stop” number than f/11 so we could say that f/8 is a wider aperture.

Aperture Photography
Depth of field from a certain aperture.

Aperture photography is not all about light.

It is also a factor in the depth of field. With wider aperture, the depth of field is shallow thus making the distant background blurry. This is why aperture is critical in the image you want to show. Depending on your subject, you could use the aperture to emphasize the subject. For example in Macro Photography, you could make use of a bigger aperture to focus on your subject (or a part of it). In Landscape photography, smaller aperture is used to give everything in the frame a clear look.

The dial could be set to a mode were all functions are auto except the aperture in single lens reflex cameras. For Canon cameras it is Av or Aperture value and A or Aperture Priority in Nikon. With this, we can set that camera in the aperture we want and all other settings are in auto.

I have heard other photographers saying “f/8 and be there”. This means that being “there” or “where the scene is” is more important than worrying about the technical details. Basically, f/8 is a decent aperture  to use in daylight photoshoots. In my opinion, it is still important to know some basic technical stuffs. In addition, you should master them through practice because experience, still, is the best teacher. 

Aperture photography is not performed overnight. This includes patience and hardwork. I believe that through practice and research, you will have what it takes to master the aperture of your camera lens. There are lots of tutorials in youtube and google that might help. Just be focused and don’t ever quit. Just read, learn, shoot. Happy shooting.


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