Aperture | The Exposure Triangle

In final corner of our exposure triangle is nearly complete! We’ve cover ISO and Shutter Speed now its time for Aperture.


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Control over Aperture is really where photography goes from mmmmh to AWESOME. The reason is that we can add depth to our images. We can make two-dimensional images appear to look three-dimensional without the need for silly glasses, now that’s magic!


When I first starting learning about apertures at college (many moons ago) it did confuse me a little at first so let me try to keep it’s explanation as simple as I can.

Aperture = The size of the opening which let’s the light in


Doesn’t sound complicated and you’re probably wondering how this can make your images awesome……so let me continue.


When you snap a picture your lens aperture opens up to the desired aperture size (that you set) and lets light onto your camera. The larger the aperture the more light is let into the camera.


Your aperture size is measured in f stops. Each f stop is larger than the last (or smaller than if you go the other way). Typical f stops you might have on your camera – f2.8, f3.2, f3.5, f4, f4.5, f5, f5.6 f6.3, f7.1, f8 f9 f10 f11……f22


The bigger the f stop the smaller the hole and the less amount light let in.


That’s confusing


Isn’t it just! But try to think about it like this.

Big number = big depth of field


What’s depth of field I hear you ask? Well let me explain….


Depth of field


This is where the fun starts (a the awesomeness).


Depth of field is the amount of area in your shot which will be in focus.


Use a big (sorry small) aperture like f22 then lots and lots of your scene will be in focus. This is great for landscape photography but remember that an f stop like f22 isn’t going to be letting much light into your camera.

f22 50mm portrait photo basics


Use a wide open aperture like f2.8 and then you will have a very shallow depth of field and only a small area (normally where you focused) will be in focus.


This is great for portraits as you can focus the subject and the background will appear blurry.


f1.8 50mm portrait

This effect will increase the closer you are to you subject or the type of lens you are using. This is where it does get far too complicated but it’s worth downloading one of the many DOF phone apps that will guide you through some calculations.


Experiment time!


This one is best done in the garden.

Set up your camera on a tripod and set up a model in the middle of the garden about a meter or two from your camera.

Set your camera to A (aperture priority mode)

Start off taking the same photo from the same distance of your subject.

Begin with the largest aperture your lens has (around f2.8 normally) and work your way up to the smallest (around f22)

Examine the results


Do this again but set up your camera just inches away from your subject and once again a couple more meters away.


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