Exposure Part 1: Aperture

Hi! Getting into photography, you’ll probably hear the term Exposure quite a bit. What is it? In photography, exposure is a term to describe the amount of light you’re allowing to reach the film or sensor. Recalling the diagram below from Part 1 of the Lighting Series, in a very simple way it shows how light travels through your camera lens to hit the film or sensor in the camera body. In a way, photography is the art of capturing light. There’s 3 fundamental ways on how to control the amount of light to get your desired photo: Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO. These 3 things work together to create a photo. Part 1 of the Exposure series focuses on Aperture.



Effects on Your Photo: Aperture allows you to control how blurry things are around your subject:

Subject in Focus with Blurry Background

Subject in Focus with Blurry Background

Everything in Focus

Everything in Focus

Effects on the Camera: You can control how blurry things are around your subject by setting a wide aperture (more blurry) vs. a narrow aperture (less blurry). The hole in your lens that allows light to come through, becomes larger for a wide aperture and becomes smaller for a narrow aperture.

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How it Works: To manually control the Aperture, set your camera in Aperture Priority Mode. Aperture is measured in F Stops. Your camera shows you what your current aperture is by displaying a number after the “f”: f2, f5.6, f8, etc. One thing that’s a bit tricky is the wider the aperture, the smaller the number and vice versa. For example:

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Remember when I said Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO work together? Since you’re on Aperture Priority Mode, your camera is allowing you to manually control the Aperture, while automatically setting the Shutter Speed and ISO for you.

You’ll also notice that if you’re shooting the same photo, with a Wide Aperture, the faster the shutter speed will be and vice versa for a narrow aperture. Why is this? Remember what Aperture is doing to the lens. A Wide Aperture creates a larger hole for light to come through the lens. Since more light is coming in, the shutter speed will have to be faster in order for your subject to be in focus.

Just remember:

Wide Aperture = Smaller Number F Stop = Subject in focus, everything else blurry.

Narrow Aperture = Larger Number F Stop = Everything in focus.

In 2 weeks, I’ll be posting about Shutter Speed. In the meantime, Happy Travels!

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