The aperture of your camera lens is essentially just a hole. The bigger you set that hole, the more light is allowed in. The smaller the hole, the less light comes through. Makes sense right? If that hole was completely closed off, no light would come in at all.
Stuck for background ideas? Learn more about creating perfect backdrops.
Setting your f-stop on the camera controls the aperture or hole. This is where it gets a little confusing because the lower your f stop number the wider your aperture and vice versa. It seems like a bigger number would mean a bigger aperture, but no. So remember this, it will help you out along the way. Look at the chart below. See the sizes of the aperture compared with the f stop number.
How a Camera Records Light
We all understand that the sensor chip in a digital camera records the photo, but in order to fully understand how to use Aperture, manual mode and aperture priority mode effectively, it is important to comprehend exactly how light enters the camera and how it can be modified through the use of a variety of camera settings.
As we hold up a camera to frame a shot, light enters the lens. Once we are satisfied with the framing of the scene, we depress the shutter button. At this point, the shutter opens up, and then the digital sensor is exposed to the light that is entering the lens so that it can be recorded.
But where in this photo making process does the aperture make a difference?
Understanding How It Works
Well, when you set your f stop, you are basically setting the aperture or hole size. This will have a direct impact on the depth of field in your photo. If your aperture is very wide (low f/stop), the background of your photo will be blurrier than the subject of your photo. Or the reverse, if you would like the background, foreground and subject to all be in clear focus, set that aperture narrow (large f/stop).
However you choose to set your aperture is completely up to you. It is all dependent on the look you are hoping to achieve. There is no right or wrong way to do this as long as you are taking into consideration the other two components of shooting in manual mode.
Once youre clear on this, you can check out how your shutter speed comes into play when shooting in manual mode and why shutter speed is important to understand when shooting in manual mode. Aperture, combined with shutter speed controls the depth of field. Reducing aperture size increases depth of field. Depth of field basically means how much of the image is sharp (in focus) and how much of it is blurry (out of focus). A good photographer always uses depth of field to their advantage. Generally a landscape picture has a large depth of field to make sure the whole image is sharp and a macro or close up picture is taken with a small depth of field so that the focus is only on the central point. These are the two most important parts of the exposure triangle.
Now you try it! Play around with changing the f stop and see what results you’ll get! Have fun shooting!