Hey, everyone! Welcome back! Today we're going to be talking about aperture!
Aperture: The adjustment of how much natural light is let into the camera varying by the size of an opening in a lens (modeled after a pupil)
F-Stop: The measuring tool for different apertures; the lower the number, the more light is let in, and the higher the number, the less light is let in (examples: f/1.8, f/4.0, f/10, f/22)
Depth of field: The distance between the nearest and farthest objects in an image; the lower the aperture number, the more blurred the background is (less is in focus)
Fast: Refers to the aperture capabilities of a lens; fast lens means that it can have a very low aperture, and a slow lens means that its lowest aperture is relatively high (f/4 or higher)
Now we can get into the specifics! Every time I try to explain aperture to someone, I try to get them to imagine a pupil. Cameras were built in order to capture light much like we do, so there are many similarities between the ways our eyes work and how cameras work. As I said earlier in the aperture definition, try to imagine it like a pupil. This next part may get confusing so bear with me! When someone steps outside into the light and their eyes adjust, their pupils the pupils get smaller because they don't have to let in as much light. And when they are exposed to darker conditions, they become larger. This is the same concept with aperture. It is controlled inside of each lens, and the size of the opening can be changed depending on what type of photo you want to take. The tricky part to remember is the lower the number (f-stop), the larger the opening is, and the higher the number, the smaller the opening is. So if a camera lens has an aperture at f/1.8, that means that it is a fast lens, shallow depth of field, and a wide opening.
Aperture is important for many different things. One of most common use of a low aperture (large opening) is for low light conditions. That allows the image to be brighter without having to compensate it with the shutter speed (and ISO but I'll explain that later). Another common use of low aperture usually deals with the amount of depth of field that the photographer wants. If I want to take a portrait of someone, the most ideal aperture is around f/2.8, and here's why. The first reason is that it allows lots of light in, meaning I will have to increase the shutter speed to near 1/250 to 1/400 or so, giving me a sharper image. It also introduces a solid amount of bokeh and isolates the subject. Bokeh is also another important term as that is what you use to describe the "background blur". Lastly, f/2.8 is best in order to make sure the entire face of that person's portrait is in focus. As noted earlier, when the aperture reaches a low number, less parts of the image are in focus and sometimes it can be too much. In some cases, higher f-stops like f/10 are also very useful. In times when you need to take photos of many people, higher numbers can be key to make sure everyone's face is in focus. One helpful tip that I learned was that when you are taking a photo of a lot of people, make the f-stop value equivalent to the number of people in the photo (you don't need to go past f/16). Higher f-stops are also helpful for landscape shots to get everything in focus as well. For example, if it is a well lit day, it is best to have an aperture around f/12 to f/16 for a sharp image with little to no out of focus points.
Understanding the basics of aperture can take you very far and I encourage you to try new things with it! If this was confusing in any way, feel free to leave a comment below or email me at email@example.com or you can dm me on Instagram @darinhallphoto. Thanks!