Photography Basics: Part 3 (Aperture)

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In our previous posts, we talked about Shutter Speed, and how much of an effect it can have on images. When it comes to Aperture, this is quite an interesting subject because in an image, it controls an interesting dynamic called “Depth of Field.”

Here’s a few thoughts about Aperture: First, this is the “AV” mode on any standard camera. Secondly, the numbers on a camera usually show up as “f-stop” (or focal ratio) numbers such as 1.8, 2.2, 2.5, 3.2, 3.5, 3.8, 4.0, 5.6, 6.3, 7.1, etc.. In essence, the lower the number, the more ambient light comes into the camera, and the more “dreamy” the look is in the image. On the other hand, the higher the number, the less ambient light comes into the camera, and the more “in focus” the entire image becomes….

For instance, lower numbers are good for portrait shots of individuals. Why is that? Well, in these images, the eyes normally are in focus, but the rest of their body is out of focus (which is a “dreamy” look)…. On the other hand, higher numbers (such as 7.1, 9.0 and higher) are good for landscapes or architecture, as the intent is to have as much stuff in the image “in focus” as possible.

 

Now, all that up there probably seemed like a mouthful, so the best way to show this is by showing you some examples! Recently, we covered a Black Tie Gala, and the few shots below show the difference in Aperture….

 

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In this shot, the aperture was set to f/1.8. It’s rare to shoot a couple at 1.8, but in this case it worked out perfectly because both of them were on the same plane (or the same distance from the camera; if they were not on the same plane, a higher aperture would be required….).

 

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In this shot of a mother and her daughters, the aperture was set to f/7.1. As a result, all the individuals in this photo are in focus! As a thought: If this was shot at f/1.8, the mother’s face would have been in focus, but everything else would have been out of focus….

Now, the lighting remained constant in here because the camera’s flash was set to Canon’s “automatic,” or “ETTL” setting (which is an entirely different post unto itself). If the flash was not included in these images, the first image above would have been brighter, and the second image would have been darker….

 

So, this is a “nutshell” of what Aperture is all about! It’s quite an interesting dynamic, as it can have a dramatic look on images! We will be crafting a new post on Lighting soon, so stay tuned, ladies and gents!….

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