Saturday, July 5, 2014


Aperture is the first topic this month for the Boost Your Photography: 52 Weeks Challenge. (Join the Google+ Community to share your weekly photographs and receive feedback.)

Aperture is a topic that often confuses photographers. The two important things to know with aperture are what each range of apertures can do for you and when is the appropriate time to use them. (For a quick overview of aperture, please read Aperture and the F/Stop Conundrum.)

Aperture Scale | Boost Your Photography

One of the best ways to understand aperture is to spend some time looking in through the lens on your camera. Many DSLRs have a small button known as the "depth of field preview" button, often located near or around the lens. (You may have to get out your manual to find yours.) When you press and hold this button, the aperture blades inside your lens close down to the aperture you would be shooting at, and you can actually see the size and shape of the opening.

So, with your camera in Aperture Priority mode, set an aperture of f/22. Now, turn the camera around so that you can see inside the lens. Press and hold the depth of field preview button and watch what happens inside. Now try a middle range aperture value like f/11. Notice the difference? If you are having trouble seeing (or have a point-and-shoot camera or phone), this aperture diagram from Shot Rockers gives you the approximate visual.

Now that you know the physical part of aperture, the other key is knowing what each aperture can do. Below is a link to a series of four articles about aperture that have previously appeared on Boost Your Photography. Aperture and the F/Stop Conundrum lays out an overview of aperture, how it works, and an explanation of the sometimes confusing terminology. Each of the three other articles provides an overview of a specific segment of the aperture spectrum, from the wide aperture end (towards f/1.8), to the narrow aperture end (towards f/22), and to the middle range apertures in between (f/8-f/11).

Aperture and the
F/Stop Conundrum

What an Aperture of
F/1.8 Can Do for You

What an Aperture of
F/22 Can Do for You

Middle Apertures:

Once you understand how each section of the aperture spectrum works, it is easy to see how to use each aperture to control the depth of field that you are seeking. Looking for a narrow depth of field and lots of blur and bokeh in the background? Choose a wide aperture. Looking for a wide depth of field with everything in your photograph in focus? Choose a narrow aperture (and probably a tripod).

Summary: Aperture

Understanding aperture will help you better control depth of field and how much of your photograph is in focus. Aperture is also often used for artistic effects and blur. Spend some time shooting with your camera in Aperture Priority mode to familiarize yourself with what different aperture values can do for a given scene or subject. See what a difference aperture can make!

(Looking to grow more in your photography? Consider joining the BYP 52 Weeks Google+ Community to share your weekly photograph and see what others are capturing.)

Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is now available from Amazon. Get the most out of your camera with practical advice about the technical and creative aspects of DSLR photography that will have you taking beautiful pictures right away.
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