Learning Manual – Aperture

Understanding Aperture is a little difficult in the beginning but when you get into the habit of continuous learning and trialing different combinations to get the right exposure, it becomes a child’s play. But when it comes to Photography, I strongly associate this very famous quote from Aristotle with it – “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.”
As seen in my previous post on the basic terminologies of Photography, Exposure is a combination of Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO but Aperture is the most critical of the three.

Aperture is simply a hole in the camera lens which controls the amount of light that could enter the camera. Setting the right aperture is very important when it comes to taking good photographs depending on your objective behind the click.

Large/Wide hole lets in more light and Small/Narrow hole lets in less light.

Aperture is measured by f-stops. Any Aperture value would have something like “f” or “f/” followed by a number (for example f11 or f/11). Do notice this in your camera! Also, the term “stop” will have to be used very often in your photography career so it is important to become familiar with this.

A high f-stop (f/16, f/22) in your camera settings implies that the hole is small and a low f-stop (f/1, f/1.4) in your camera settings implies that the hole is large.

Scale determining how much light enters the camera

Notice the f-stop scale in the diagram above. Once you’ve known the scale, it will be easy to understand the meaning of 3 important terms – Opening, Closing, Stop.
Increasing the Aperture (decrease in f/stop) is called “Opening” whereas Decreasing the Aperture (increase in f/stop) is called “Closing”. Also in Aperture, a Stop is calculated by the dividing or multiplying the f-number by 1.4.

Example 1:
  Adjusting the Aperture from f/4 to f/11 implies that exposure has been decreased by 3 stops and the Aperture has been closed by 3 stops.

Example 2:
Adjusting the Aperture from f/5.6 to f/2.8 implies that exposure has been increased by 2 stops and the Aperture has been opened by 2 stops.

The difference in the f-stops and how it affects the control of light is made clear by the images below.

In the above images, I have increased the exposure and opened the Aperture by 3 stops.

In the above images, I have decreased the exposure and closed the Aperture by 2 stops.

Apart from controlling light, the Aperture also controls the focus of your image which is known as Depth of Field (DOF). There are 2 types of DOF – Shallow DOF and Deep DOF. Shallow DOF gives you an image with a blurry background and Deep DOF gives you an image where the entire scene is in focus i.e. sharp.

Keep the below equation in mind –
Wide Aperture = Bright Photo & Shallow DOF & low f/stop
Narrow Aperture = Dark Photo & Deep DOF & high f/stop

IMG_5148 (1)
Capture with a Shallow Depth of Field (background blurred)
Capture with a Deep Depth of Field (everything in focus)

I cannot emphasize how crucial it is to understand Aperture settings in the camera and thus through this blog, I wanted to simplify this concept for all the readers who wish to pursue Photography as a hobby. Hope this blog of mine has simplified this concept for you.

P.S.: Any thoughts or comments are welcome.

Happy Photographing!