For a new photographer, aperture can be a confusing concept at first glance. In fact, it can be a confusing concept at second, third, and forth glance as well! That's why we thought we'd write this blog post- to clear up the confusion when it comes to aperture.
Before we talk about aperture though, let's first talk about how a camera works at its most basic level. So, how does a camera work? Well, quite simply, a camera is a light tight box with a sensor inside of it and a lens attached to the front of it. When the shutter is released, the sensor is exposed to light that enters in through the lens for a specified amount of time, i.e. shutter speed. So, what does this have to do with aperture? Well, the aperture of the lens allows us to control exactly how much light floods in through the lens by opening up or closing down, which of course will effect your exposure. You can think of the aperture of your lens like a river dam, which adjusts the flow of water in the river, or in camera terms, the flow of light coming into the camera and hitting the sensor.
So that's it, that's what aperture is. If that's all you wanted to know, you can move on and start taking pictures. However, it's important to note that aperture doesn't just impact your exposure by controlling the amount of light, it also impacts the depth of field, or put more simply, how much is in focus. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, think of those portraits with the blurry background.
Everyone has seen pictures like this, but how are they taken? Easy, with a wide aperture. Conversely, how would you take a picture with everything in focus?
I think you get where I am going with this- a small aperture!
You might be wondering how you can know what the aperture of your lens is set to right now. Well, the aperture of your lens is represented by F stops, which represent different amounts of light. Sometimes you can change the F stop using a ring located directly on your lens, but it can also almost always be changed directly from the camera as well. The different F stops will be represented by different numbers like 1.8, 2, 2.8, 3.5, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22.
The smaller the number, the wider or larger your aperture, or, the greater amount of light that your lens is letting in. The larger the number, the smaller your aperture.
So in review, the aperture of your lens impacts your pictures in two ways:
1. Your exposure.
2. Your depth of field.
There you have it, a very basic and simple breakdown of aperture. Before we go, we should also mention that aperture isn't the only thing that effects depth of field, so If you'd like to know more about depth of field, stay tuned for a future article on the topic.
We hope that you found this helpful. If you have any more questions about aperture, or anything else camera related for that matter, come by our store and chat with one of our photographers.