Monday, June 11, 2012

Photo TIPS! ~ Aperture

I've been asked by a lot of new (and even some experienced) photographers, "what is Aperture?". This subject seems to be one of those things that you either understand completely or not at all, so I will try my best to explain it in a way that everyone will understand: Using my own pictures, and also word explanation.

WARNING: I'm going to be repeating a lot of words in order to make memorization more effective so please be a little tolerant (the repetition will help you understand the subject).

When thinking of Aperture try to imagine (as an example) the hole on one of the ends of a toilet paper roll. 

Image courtesy of Google (drawings are mine)
The inside of the lens is represented by the entire tube, and the Aperture is the actual hole as seen in the image above. The Aperture ("eye") of the lens takes in light that is interpreted by the camera sensor. Now, what does it mean when photographers say, "Hey, you! Change the Aperture?" They are referring to the size of the hole ("eye") in the front of the lens, and by "Change the Aperture" they want you to make the hole bigger or smaller. The image below shows how the size of the Aperture on the lens changes:

Aperture Table (courtesy of Google images)
Different lenses have different capabilities when it comes to how wide it can open (shown by figure f/2 in the image) and how much it can close (shown by f/16 in the image above). In the image, f/2 represents the widest the lens can open its "eye" (Aperture). As you start increasing the number, the amount of light reaching the sensor decreases because the "eye lids" (represented by the blades seen from f/2.8 - f/16) begin to close on the "eye" (aperture) of the lens. Why?
Camera manufactures use the f/stop (f/1, f/2, f2.8...) to indicate the amount of light reaching the sensor. When you have a lens that can reach f/1 then you have a lens that allows ALL of the light reach the sensor in the camera. So imagine the #1 in f/1 represents 100% light-to-sensor ratio. As the size of the f/stop (remember the "stop" in f/stop is replaced by numbers like f/1, f/2.8, f/5.6) increases the less light will reach the sensor (light to sensor). 

What does increasing the f/stop (Smaller Aperture) do to images? 2 things.

1) By increasing the number of the f/stop (the more shut the "eye lids" will be) the less light will reach the sensor; which results, in darker images. Why would I want less light to reach the sensor? Well Imagine it's an EXTREMELY sunny day and all your shots come out looking like your subject is a white piece of paper 2 inches from the camera (everything is to bright). By decreasing the amount of light ( a.k.a increasing f/stop) your image will look better because less of that EXTREMELY bright sun light is entering the lens and the more of the subject you will see. (try it out)
2) The more you increase the f/stop # the more background will be in focus, which is often used in landscape photography. I will explain this relationship between aperture and dop( depth of field) in the next "Photo TIPS!" tutorial.

What does decreasing the f/stop (Bigger Aperture) do to images? 2 things.

1) By decreasing the f/stop # (the more open the "eye" will be) the more light will reach the sensor. This is useful for when you are shooting in very dark places. By decreasing the f/stop the more light in the surroundings will enter the lens and the more visible your subject will become. 
2) The smaller you make the f/stop the less background will be in focus. This is something I use VERY often in my own photography, especially in my portrait photography. This is used when you want to create "Bokeh" which refers to the smooth background. I will also talk more about this effect in the next "Photo TIPS!" post. This effect also creates a pop in the image since only a small portion of the image is "in focus".

I used a very small f/stop number (f.2.8) in this
image which cause the amount of focus to be a
very small space (the focus was on the eyeball)
and it also caused the background to blur, i.e
This image also contains a small f/stop # (f/1.8)
and the focus is right on the glasses and lips.
(if you look closely you will see my reflection
on the glasses :))
-Big f/stop # = small aperture size and very little light reaching sensor (darker images)
-Small f/stop # = big aperture size and very much light reaching the sensor (brighter images)

If you have any questions about my pictures, posts, or photography over all, send me a message or comment below (comments are preferred since they may serve the purpose of answering the question for everyone with similar questions.) If you like this post please tell me below and share it on your social media sites, and remember SUBSCRIBE! 

Keep Snappin',

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