What is Aperture?
When you hit the shutter button on your lens to take a photo, there is a diaphragm with an opening at the end of your lens, which controls how much light comes in and hits the sensor.
What is f-stop?
We can adjust the size of this opening by changing the f-stop (basically the calibrated measurements for aperture). F-stops are generally written as numbers such as 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11 and 16.
Always remember..the smaller the number, the wider the opening
Just always remind yourself that when it comes to f-stop/aperture settings, the smaller the number, the wider the opening.
How Does Aperture Affect Depth of Field?
The scale above also shows you how your f-stop settings can affect your depth of field. The wider the opening (or smaller the number), the more shallow your depth of field will be. A very shallow depth of field will result in more blurred backgrounds or foregrounds because the plane of focus (sharp areas) are more shallow. So the higher the number (the smaller the opening) the larger your plane of focus gets. The image below shows examples of the same image being taking at different f-stops.
The higher the number, the more you would have in focus. So keep that in mind when shooting large groups or landscapes when you need a deeper depth of field.
As you can see, aperture affects both your exposure results and your depth of field. It’s up to you to practice and find the balance between all of your settings. They all go hand in hand when shooting manual. But the more you practice, the more comfortable you will become with them.
How does aperture affect exposure?
Our f-stop setting also affects our shutter speed. Shooting with a lower f-stop (wide aperture) means more light is entering the lens and hitting the sensor, which means the shutter doesn’t need to stay open as long to make a correct exposure.
This results in a faster shutter speed being needed. This goes both ways; shooting with a higher f-stop number (smaller aperture) means that less light is coming through the lens, meaning the shutter will need to stay open a little longer, which results into needing a slower shutter speed. Again, it’s all about the balance.
Shooting in fully manual mode is probably one of the most intimidating and difficult things to master for beginners. Getting your ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed just right in order to capture the perfect image takes a lot of practice. Become familiar with your camera and the different settings. Start with Aperture Priority or Shutter Speed Priority before going fully manual if needed. If shooting with Aperture Priority, take note of how different apertures/f-stops affect the other settings. Do the same with Shutter Speed Priority.
The more you study your camera and the results with these settings, the more you will understand how they all work together. Just keep shooting! You’ll be shooting in full manual mode and adjusting your settings without having to even pause between images to think about it before you know it!