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Making the World Cuter: What's an F/Stop?

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What's an F/Stop?

So, I have this photography hobby, that I want to turn more into a money making hobby.
Now, I'm no expert at mine or anyone elses camera.
But I want to be.
I know enough to get a pretty great picture, but I want to understand what I'm doing more, and really learn the how's and why's better.
I was hoping you all would join in with a discussion of sorts as we go through the settings on our cameras.
I know a lot of you have SLR's like I do, and we are all probably on different levels of understanding.
I think we could all benefit from everyone elses knowledge.
So let's get started.

Today I want to talk about APERTURE, because it falls in the most basic, and necessary things to know category.

This is what I (think I) know.

The size of your aperture (or f/stop) controls how much of your photograph is in focus.

When you change your f/stop, it changes the opening on your lens.

One thing to remember about f/stops and aperture is the higher the number the smaller the opening, and vice versa.

The smaller the opening on your lens, LESS light is let in, which allows more of your photograph to be in focus.

Here is an example of a photo of a pine cone I just took with my f stop set at 25.
Which is a very high f/stop, and considered a closed aperture. Notice how you can see clear to the back of my backyard, (which is very large, you can see the trees, and the stuff in our neighbors backyard).

The next photo I changed my f/stop to 14, which is still a high f/stop, but it opened the aperture up a little bit, and I lost some of that focus that was in the backyard.The next photo I took at an f/stop of 4.5
The aperture is WIDER and therefore let more light in to the camera, so LESS of my photo is in focus and gives me that nice blurred background.For taking pictures of people and they are all on the same plane you probably want to set your f-stop at a lower aperture, then the noise of the background is blurred and all of the focus will be on your subject.
If they are all over the place and on different planes then you want to set your f-stop to a higher aperture, so that they will all be in focus, but remember so will most of, or all of your background.
Unless you are trying to only focus on the people in the front, then you will want to adjust your f/stop accordingly.

So if you have never shot with your camera out of automatic, then I challenge you to shoot in your aperture priority (usually the Av or A symbol on your dial) mode for the next few days. Try to figure out if a higher or lower f/stop is required for the ideal photo you are trying to capture.
Share your examples on your own blogs, and link them in the comments.

For those of you who know more about aperture, please comment and let us learn more from you! Correct me on my mistakes, I'm sure I've made them, and let me know what you have discovered!

Next time, I want to discuss ISO (shutter speed and film speed), and how to adjust it with the aperture to get the best results.



Blogger Eric & Penny Kunz Family said...

Thanks. I like it. I need to do it.

Mon Aug 31, 07:15:00 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

Here is a snipit of my favorite photography, cooking, everything site Pioneer Woman. She is humble, and super informative, and way too funny! This is a little bit of what she had to say about Aperture. She has tons of tutorials, and even some free actions for cs4. Go check her out, enjoy!

“What the Heck is an Aperture?” Part One.May. 6, 2008
Photography is based on light. Did you know that?
As a matter of fact, “Photos” is the Greek word for “Light.” And I happen to know that only because I’m a homeschooling freak of nature and I teach my children Greek and Latin. When I feel like it.
Anyway, light is everything in photography, and how much (or how little) light enters your camera determines what your ultimate photo will look like.
Are you with me so far?
If too much light enters the camera, the photo will be OVEREXPOSED, or TOO BRIGHT, or BLOWN OUT.
Got it?
If too little light enters the camera, the photo will be UNDEREXPOSED, or TOO DARK, or…well, BLACK.
But the right amount of light allowed into the camera will result in a photo that is properly exposed, or JUST RIGHT.
“But How Does Light Enter the Camera?”
Good question! I asked it about forty million trillion thousand hundred billion times before it finally clicked. And here’s the answer: How much light enters the camera depends on two different things:
1. The Aperture
2. The Shutter Speed
(ISO setting also affects exposure, but we won’t cover that today.)
I had no dadgum clue what either Aperture or Shutter Speed meant when I picked up my camera for the first time, so let me break it down for you. And remember: I’m not a professional, which means I’m basically just feeling my way through this. So if something I say doesn’t make sense, please stone me in the public square so I can rephrase it.
1. The APERTURE is the circular mechanism inside your camera that opens and closes when a picture is taken. You can set the aperture to remain very open when the picture is taken, or you can set it to close very tightly when the picture is taken, and all degrees in between. The larger the aperture remains open when the photo is taken, the MORE light will enter the camera for each shot. The more tightly the aperture is allowed to close, the LESS light will enter the camera. The settings of the aperture openings are called “F-stops.” The confusing thing about the aperture is this: the larger the opening, the smaller the number. So:
f22 would mean a very tightly closed aperture opening.
f1.4 would mean a very wide open aperture opening.

Tue Sep 01, 11:54:00 AM

Blogger Carissa(GoodnCrazy) said...

HOLY! I love this tute on aparture!!! Jason taught me a teeny tiny bit the other day when I needed to 'force' my camera to do a fill flash.. but THIS explains it all SOO much better!!!

Tue Sep 01, 02:47:00 PM

Blogger Lisa C said...

"The smaller the opening on your lens, LESS light is let in, which allows more of your photograph to be in focus."

Yes, and no. Yes less light is let in, which is why you will need a longer shutter speed to let in more light. Otherwise the image would go dark. It's not the amount of light that creates a greater depth of field (perceived focus) but rather the way the light is transmitted.

I don't totally get it either. It's one of those abstract mathematical things.

Tue Sep 01, 10:28:00 PM

Blogger Jason Appah said...


you should take Carlos Beccerras Advanced Digital Photography Class in the spring, you'd get a lot out of it, I know that I did! I'll make April take it with you!

BTW, your demonstration is control of depth of field :) with can be controled via the focal length of the lens or camera you're using and the apeture in concert.


for more nerdy talk on this:


Wed Sep 02, 09:57:00 PM


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Thanks for making the world so stinkin cute!

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