To fully understand your camera and become a better photographer, you must understand the basic functions such as Aperture, ISO and Shutter Speed. For the beginner this seems impossible to learn, but with a little bit of experimenting and reading you will quickly see that it’s not nearly as tough as it seems. In todays basic series I will give you an introduction to Aperture in Landscape Photography.
Have you ever wondered how photographers get razor sharp images? Or perhaps how your favorite photographer was able to blur the background of a macro image? The answer is really simple. They understand how to use the Aperture.
What is Aperture?
As with the other articles within the beginner series I will keep this as simple as possible, making it easier for you to understand without going through hundreds of pages with technical nonsens! The easiest way to understand aperture is to think of it as a adjustable hole that lets light through your lens. The bigger the hole, the quicker light passes through. A narrow hole will require much more time for the light to pass.
I will avoid talking too much about shutter speed, as I’ve dedicated a own article to that subject. Soon you will understand how all of the fundamentals work together, and why it is important to pay attention to all of them.
Like I said above; the larger the hole is, the quicker light passes through. It works very similar to curtains in a room. If the curtains are closed the room is dark. A small opening lets only a little light come through, but if you open them completely the entire room is lightened. Stepping away from the curtains and back to the camera, you can see that a wide aperture (defined as a low f-stop number) will let much more light into the sensor. This allows you to use a much quicker shutter speed, as the amount of light needed to correctly expose the image is reached quicker.
I got to be honest with you though. It’s a bit more advanced than what I just explained. This is only parts of aperture. Besides telling how much light lets through your lens, it also controls the depth of field in your image. Don’t worry though, it’s still not that hard to understand!
What is Depth of Field?
Depth of field says how much of the image is sharp, and how much is blurred out. The image below shows a typical example of narrow depth of field. The flowers are sharp, while the background elements are blurry.
Aperture controls the depth of field, yet another element to keep in mind while photographing! I know it might feel overwhelming, but hang in there! I promise it will become easier in the time to come.
Just like with the amount of light letting through the lens, large or small aperture have big impacts to your images. If you shoot with a open aperture such as 2.8 or 5.6, you will blur out big parts of the image. Your foreground element will be sharp, but not the elements further away. A smaller aperture such as 18 or 22 will make both the foreground and background sharp.
Being aware of how aperture works will be a huge advantage for you. It will allow you to be more creative and produce images of higher quality.
This was the second part of our beginner fundamental series. You can find the other parts here:
Part 1: Introduction to ISO in Landscape Photography
Part 2: Introduction to Aperture in Landscape Photography
Part 3: Introduction to Shutter Speed in Landscape Photography
Part 4: The Exposure Triangle