Photography 101: Mastering Your Camera Aperture

In photography, exposure reflect to the amount of light that fall into your camera sensor. If sensor is exposed for too long, your photograph output will be overexposed and the picture details will be washed out with white. In the opposite, your photograph will be underexposed or appeared to be too dark if the sensor is exposed for too short. Getting the right exposure is the most vital element in photography.

There are two main key settings to control your camera exposure which are:

  • Aperture
  • Shutter speed

In this post, we will present to you a simple yet useful guide on how to master your camera aperture by understanding the uses of aperture in depth of field, image sharpness and the f-numbers. After reading this post, we hope that you will get to learn and apply the correct aperture setting practically. Have a pleasure reading!

Getting the right exposure

Mastering Your Camera Aperture - Getting the right exposure
Original image by Alessandro Reginato

We have explained previously that the aperture is one of two key setting to get the correct exposure. An overexposed shot is too dark and underexposed shot is too bright. You can control the exposure by using both aperture and shutter speed. Start with Auto mode and get the reading from your camera. You may also try Aperture priority mode where you can set the aperture manually and get the camera to calculate shutter speed automatically.

It is a best practice to learn how your camera works and start playing with manual mode after you have practically understand how aperture and shutter speed works.

Depth of Field

Mastering Your Camera Aperture - Depth of Field
Image by haraldwalker

The depth of field or also known as depth of focus plays as an unique and creative touch in photography. A smaller aperture (bigger f number, Eg: f/16) will get everything in the frame to be in focus and sharp while wider aperture (smaller f number, Eg: f/2.8) can get your subject to be in focus while others is out of focus or blurred.

For example in family portrait, you might want to consider using smaller aperture in order to get everyone faces to be in focus and sharp.

Image Sharpness

Mastering Your Camera Aperture - Image Sharpness
Original image by Astrid Van Mele

Generally, the widest aperture will decrease image sharpness. When shot are taken with maximum aperture (smallest f number), the whole area of lens surface was fully optimized and will create a bit of imperfection toward to the center of the glasses. If image sharpness is your main concern of your shot purposes, avoid using the maximum aperture. Stopping down 1-2 f-stops might offer you a little bit of help.

F Numbers

Mastering Your Camera Aperture - F Numbers
Original image by David Chu

The F numbers or f-stops was referred to the actual size of the aperture. The smaller F numbers means wider aperture opens and more light will enter your lens while a bigger F number means smaller aperture open and the lesser light will enter the lens.

Conclusion

  • You can get the right exposure by controlling both aperture and shutter speeds.
  • Start learning and understanding your camera by using Auto mode and aperture priority mode. After you get the idea how the exposure works, start playing and experimenting with manual mode.
  • Aperture effect depth of field and image sharpness. The smaller f number means the wider aperture opens and bigger f numbers means the smaller aperture open.
  • The f number was also referred as f-stops.

Juan is a Design & Tech Blogger with strong interest in digital art, human computer interaction, enterprise system and system automation.

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