Now that we’ve learned how the sun effects our pictures and how we can use light to give our shots the look we want, it’s time to learn how the camera uses light. For this, we have to talk about aperture or f stop (f). What is that you may ask? Well I’m glad you asked :)! In very simple terms, aperture is the size of the hole that light goes through when it passes a lens. A larger aperture can let in more light then a small one. Picture a tunnel if you will, a small tunnel will let in a small amount of light, while a large one will let in more. Are you seeing the light at the end of this tunnel :)??
Now you may be asking “so what?”. Well, the amount of light your lens can use will affect the grain in your image, the clarity and just about everything else. With out enough light, blur will be an issue when shooting a moving subject. Lets say you know how to set up your camera to shoot at a fast speed well, with out enough light, you will either get a pitch black picture or a large amount of grain. This is why you might have heard: it’s not the camera, it’s the lens that’s most important. This is also the reason why most photographers splurge on the best lens they can get.
Another thing aperture effects is the depth of field. The larger the aperture, the smaller the depth of field. This is what helps keep your subject the star of the picture and beautifully blur the background. The background blur is called bokeh and this is what professional photographers live for (unless they do landscapes). The following series of pictures will show what aperture does to the depth of field.
I took all the pictures at 50mm. Starting from the top, here are the f stops: f/1.4, f/2.8, f/4.5 and f/10. As the numbers grow, the aperture is smaller. You can see that in the first picture (f/1.4) the focus is on a single flower in the middle of the stem. As you get to the last picture (f/10) you can see a lot of the background the entire stem is in focus. Depending on what you’re taking a picture of you want a larger or smaller f stop.
This next series of pictures shows how the f stop effect the light. For the first set of pictures I set my camera up accordingly to the amount of light that was coming in so they are all equally lit. In this series I did not change anything else except the aperture to show you how it directly effects the amount of light coming in. All pictures were taken at 50mm. Starting from the top, here are the f stops: f/2.8, f/4, f/8 and f/14. Again, you can see that the first picture is well lit and by the end it’s pretty dark.
Well congratulations, you now know the basics of light in photography! There is so much more to learn, but knowing these simple things will help anyone when taking pictures.
I mentioned in the last post I would answer any questions given and so I want to answer the most asked question. I shoot with a canon 5D mark II. Yes, I am a canon lover!
I want to finish with a few pictures that show beautiful bokeh.
May you all have beautifully blurry pictures :)!