Posted by & filed under Photography.

If you missed the Photography series you can start here:

  1. Basics to Photography
  2. Aperture Photography
  3. Learn about your ISO setting
  4. Shutter Speed Photography
  5. The Exposure Triangle
  6. Photo Composition
  7. Capturing the every day moments
  8. 10 Photography tips to help you edit your pictures
  9. Some more  Photography tips
  10. My Photography Tips

Hello there! I’m Jessica – a wife, mother, and the owner of Jessica Downey Photo.

{ Aperture Photography Series }

Please let me introduce you to the very interesting (and sometimes intimidating) topic of aperture. Most of this is for people who own a DSLR, but I’ll also let you know how it applies to point-and-shoot cameras as well!

The aperture refers to the adjustable size of the hole in your camera that lets in the light. It is measured in f-stops. The smaller the f-stop number, the larger the opening. I’m a visual person, so it always helps me to see a diagram…

Aperture is important because it determines your depth-of-field, or the portion of your photo that is in focus. A wide open aperture gives you a very shallow depth of field, so only a small portion of your photo will be in sharp focus, and everything in front or behind will be very blurry. A very small aperture will give you a much greater depth-of-field, so everything in your photo will be in focus, front to back. A good way to remember this: people squint (making their eye opening smaller) to see things in better focus, so therefore, you can remember that a smaller aperture gives you more of everything in focus from front to back.

Your own personal preference and artistic flair is what determines what aperture you should use! It totally depends on what you are trying to achieve with your photo. For instance, I love the beautiful blur in the first example. To me it looks more artistic, dramatic, and professional. But some people may opt for the second photo because you can clearly see all the details of the gorgeous vintage items on the table! Like I said, it just depends on you and what you are trying to accomplish with your photo.

Here are some more examples:
In the first photo you can see that it is a very wide open aperture at f/1.2 and the depth of field is very shallow. Only one bottle is in focus and the ones directly in front of it and behind it are already starting to blur a little. And the farther in front or in back you get, the blurrier things become.
aperture photography

In the next photo, the aperture is a little more closed up at f/4.0 and more of the bottles are in focus. But the bottles at the ends are still blurry.
aperture photography

In the last photo, the aperture is even smaller at f/9.0 and all the bottles are clear and sharp. The depth of field is even getting great enough that you can start to see the wall in the background coming into focus a bit, which in the other two photos was so blurred that you couldn’t tell what it was.
aperture photography

On an SLR camera you can choose your own aperture for your photos, but keep in mind that certain lenses can only open so wide. Some have only a maximum aperture opening of f/2.8 or even f/4.0, so those lenses wouldn’t be able to open as wide as others that can go all the way to f/1.2 (like my favorite lens)! So if you like the look of a shallow depth-of-field, you’ll want to look for a lens that has a very low aperture number. The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 Lens  is a great lens for around $100.
Although I prefer shooting completely in manual mode, an easier way to begin experimenting with your aperture setting is to use the AV mode (aperture priority mode) on your SLR camera dial. In AV mode you can determine your own aperture, and the camera will automatically determine your shutter speed and ISO for you!
So… what if you have a point and shoot camera but you still want to get some background blur in your pictures? The good news is that you can, at least to a certain extent. Just set your dial to “portrait” mode, which has an icon that looks like a person’s head. This setting will tell your camera to open its aperture as wide as it is able to. Awesome

Thanks for joining me for this post! I was a teacher before I was a photographer, so besides my fresh, happy approach to photography, I’m also known for my easy-to-understand beginners DSLR workshops. I have so much fun sharing my love of photography with others and it’s great to see people get so excited to finally be able to take the kinds of pictures they’ve always wanted! I also offer long-distance mentoring for professional photographers who live outside of Arizona. I’d love to get to know each of you, so please stop by my blog or Facebook page every once in awhile to say hi and let me know what you think!

Jamielyn Nye is the owner and managing editor of I Heart Nap Time. She aspires to reach women, get their creative juices flowing, and to genuinely inspire. Her unique projects have been featured on many popular websites, including: BHG, Martha Stewart, Fox, ABC, People, Parents and more. When she’s not creating . . . Jamielyn loves to chase her two little monkeys and snuggle up on the couch with her man.

Join in!

22 Responses to “Aperture photography series”

  1. [email protected]

    I love how the image changes because of the adjustments of the lens. Nice photos.

  2. cherie

    best explanation yet! First one I’ve actually understood on the subject, thanks! I will forever be squinting my eyes to recall the info:-)

  3. Anngela

    I love this series! Yesterday’s composition post was very helpful but the aperture lesson was very informative!! It couldn’t have come at a better time since receiving my first SLR for the holidays. I am just now finally researching all the ‘how-to’s’ and this is truly a huge help!! Can’t wait to see what’s in store for tomorrow’s lesson!

  4. Tish Orr

    Jamielyn, Enjoyed your simple approach and clear examples look forward to more quick lessons.

  5. Leah

    This make so much more sense now! I’m getting ready to buy a good lens with a low aperture. I’ve looked at several but one thing I don’t’ understand is the mm. It seems like most bloggers use and recommend the 50mm. How is that different from the 35mm?

  6. Kathye (aka mommymelback)

    Thank you Thank you Thanks you Love this lesson.

  7. Birgit

    Last weekend I followed a photography workshop to learn a few tricks and to make better pictures for my blog. I just love your tips, they enlarge the knowledge ingot during the weekend, but I also realize I’ve got much more to learn

  8. Haley

    Thank you so much for this, I just bough my first “real” camera and I have been messing with it and looking online for info. I kept seeing “aperture” and knew it had something to do with light and focusing but didn’t know how they correlated. So thanks again :) Happy Snapping!

  9. Meagan

    I never really understood “aperture” until I read this post! SUPER easy to understand and the pictures were extremely helpful!

  10. Joni

    Hi. I love photography, and being new to start, your blog post has been very helpful! Thank you soo much. I look forward to visiting your website for any photography help in the future. :)

    • Jamielyn

      Hi Joni! I’m so glad this photography post has been helpful to you! I love photography too, it is such a fun hobby! :)