Thursday, December 11, 2008

Aperture...and other-good-things

I figured that the only best way to save this is to have it blogged instead of saving a paper copy of it into a manila folder and risk having it lost under my bed, or in my closet amongst my piles of clothes and shoes.

I must say that I've learned a lot these past couple of months by reading and asking. No blog page about photography has been left unturned. One of the things I learned from the getgo was about aperture. At first, the numbers might seem confusing, but once you start understanding and see each image at it's different aperature, it becomes as easy as spotting a chic pair of shoes ;)

Here's a good article I found from Pioneer Woman, a photographers blog with helpful tips.

Photography is based on light. Did you know that? (That's a given)

Light is everything in photography, and how much (or how little) light enters your camera determines what your ultimate photo will look like.

If too much light enters the camera, the photo will be OVEREXPOSED, or TOO BRIGHT, or BLOWN OUT.
Got it.
If too little light enters the camera, the photo will be UNDEREXPOSED, or TOO DARK, or…well, BLACK.


But the right amount of light allowed into the camera will result in a photo that is properly exposed, or JUST RIGHT.
“But How Does Light Enter the Camera?”
I asked it a dozen times until it finally clicked. And here’s the answer: How much light enters the camera depends on two different things:
1. The Aperture
2. The Shutter Speed

I had NO CLUE what either Aperture or Shutter Speed meant when I picked up my camera for the first time.

1. The APERTURE is the circular mechanism inside your camera that opens and closes when a picture is taken. You can set the aperture to remain very open when the picture is taken, or you can set it to close very tightly when the picture is taken, and all degrees in between. The larger the aperture remains open when the photo is taken, the MORE light will enter the camera for each shot. The more tightly the aperture is allowed to close, the LESS light will enter the camera. The settings of the aperture openings are called “F-stops.” The confusing thing about the aperture is this: the larger the opening, the smaller the number. So:

f22 would mean a very tightly closed aperture opening.
f1.4 would mean a very wide open aperture opening.

Which aperture you choose often depends on the depth of field you want. DOF (depth-of-field) refers to how much of the photo is in focus and how much is blurry.

A very shallow depth of field would mean the subject (a person, a flower) is in focus, but the background is very blurred.


These were taken at a low aperature number. Low number, large aperture opening, more depth of field, more background blur.

A very large depth of field would mean everything in the photo (a wide landscape, trees in the foreground, mountains in the background) are equally in focus:


I realize there are no mountains or trees here but notice how the sand and buildings are (pretty much) in focus. This was taken with a large aperture number. Large number, smaller aperture opening, less depth of field, less background blur.
Another example of a very large depth of field. The grass, the cows, the trees are all in focus.


If you want a very shallow depth of field (background blurry), you’d choose a very large aperture opening (like how your pupils react with more light), which would be a very low number. (f2.8)

If you want a very large depth of field, you’d choose a very small aperture opening, (smaller pupils) which would be a higher number. (like f22)
Phew! That was a mouthful at first, but it felt so wonderful once it clicked in my brain :) I mentioned in my previous posts what I learned about shutter speed. There's always more to learn and different ways to use shutter speed but since I've talked enough for today, I'll post more about that later.