Well this is the last basic feature of your camera settings that can help you take amazing photographs. We’ve already covered ISO and shutter speed so all that is left is aperture.
So by now you should know that your lens has a shutter that opens and closes to let in light, but this shutter fulfills another task as well. When you select an aperture setting, or f-stop, what you are doing is telling your shutter how large an opening you want. The larger the number you select – the bigger the opening in your shutter. The bigger the opening, the more light you are letting into your camera bokeh.
One of the effects you can achieve with aperture is bokeh. Wikipedia describes bokeh as “a photographic term referring to the appearance of out-of-focus areas in an image produced by a camera lens. Different lens bokeh produces different aesthetic qualities in out-of-focus backgrounds, which are often used to reduce distractions and emphasize the primary subject.” Most shutters have six or seven blades that cross over one another. You can also create different shapes in your bokeh using different attachments to create different effects. If you Google bokeh images, you can see all different sorts of examples of bokeh effects.
Your aperture setting can also effect your depth of field. Depth of field is essentially the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in an image that appear sharply in focus. Depending on how you set your aperture changes how wide or narrow your depth of field is. So how do you know what your depth of field is going to be? Well, the smaller your opening – the sharper your image, which means the higher your f-stop the sharper your image.
So let’s say your aperture is set at f2.8, you are going to have a very narrow depth of field, a blurry background, and bokeh effects. If however, you set your aperture to f32, you will have a wide depth of field, which means a larger area of focus.
Aperture is probably one of the most beneficial components of your camera to understand to be able to create high quality, professional looking photos. I am planning on adding one more post to this series to explain how to put all these functions together, and then you should have a pretty firm grasp of the basics. Until then – keep practicing!
Stephanie lives in Central IL, is married to her best friend, Ryan, and enjoys the company of her rambunctious lab-beagle pup, Kit. She is the owner of Green Tree Media and is passionate about photography.