Camera Basics – Aperture

What is Aperture?

Aperture refers to the opening of the lens where it controls the amount of light entering it, the depth of field, and the sharpness of the picture. Also known as f/stops, it is one of the most important settings when taking a picture. F/stops standard numbers range from f/1.4 to f/16.

Image: Google

The higher aperture (f/16) means lesser exposure entering the camera while the lower aperture (f/1.4) means more exposure entering the camera. A higher aperture gives more focus when taking a group shot or a landscape picture and a lower aperture for low-light scenarios. The amount of light that enters can be controlled by widening or narrowing the aperture.

Widened aperture = more exposure = brighter image (lower f-number)

Narrow aperture = lesser exposure = darker image (higher f-number)

When adjusting the aperture, the size of the area in the image that appears in focus also changes. The smaller the f-number, the smaller the image area in focus that gives more Bokeh effect while the larger the f-number, the larger the image area in focus and lesser Bokeh effect.

Image: Google

Lower f/stop = less depth of field = blurrier background

Higher f/stop = greater depth of field = sharper background

What is Bokeh in photography?

Bokeh refers to the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in out-of-focus parts of an image. It is rendered by the lens and not the camera itself. Some lens designs blur the image in a way that is pleasing to the eye which enhances the photographs forcing us to focus our attention on a particular area of the image. It separates a subject from the background as the result of shallow “depth of field” also called “background blur”. 

Image: Google

Here’s an example of the Bokeh effect. The out-of-focus areas look light and the circles are round and soft with beautiful adjustments between the blurry areas while the Woody (toy) is in focus and sharp looking. 

Image: Google

Low f/stop = faster shutter speed = lesser depth of field 

High f/stop = slower shutter speed = greater depth of field

How to choose Aperture?

We use different focus and depth of field for different purposes in photography in capturing the object. For example, when taking a classic portrait picture, using a larger aperture (a smaller f/stop) like f/2.8 is needed to create a very shallow depth of field that focuses more on the subject than the background. For landscape photography, a smaller aperture (higher f/stop) like f/11 is needed to achieve the maximum depth of field to capture the overall feature. 

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