St. Augustine Family Photographer | Danielle Brooks Photography
St. Augustine Family Photographer and Family Portrait Photography Studio. Specializing in Family Photography, Senior Portraits, and Head Shot Photography.

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St. Augustine photographer specializing in families, children, and seniors.

Get Your Camera Out Of Auto...NOW! Pt. 3

I hope you all found yesterdays blog on shutter speed helpful! Today we will be tackling to topic of F- stop, or aperture.

Pardon my claw hand in the above photo. The point was to show you where the aperture is in a lens. Apertures determine how much light is let in, very similar to shutter speed, but its results are different. Here are some terms to become familiar with.

F-stop- stands for Focal Stop, meaning, the measurement of the aperture setting in a camera lens. It is written f/ 4, f/11, etc.

Aperture- a hole or an opening through which light travels.

Depth of Field- Refers to how sharp or blurry the background behind the main subject is. The higher the f-stop number the less blur there will be.

Here is a handy chart I found that is quite helpful. I know you're probably still really confused, but that's OK! I'm hopefully going to help you answer some of those questions.

To help you learn about aperture, I would switch your camera settings into Aperture Priority. This way the camera takes care of the rest of the settings and you can just focus on aperture for the time being. The first thing to know about aperture is that the smaller the f-stop number the bigger the opening. I know, totally backwards, but that's just how it works. The bigger the f-stop number the smaller the opening. What does all this mean? Lets say you're outside shooting in full sun. You would probably want to have an f-stop of f/8 or higher. Why? Because when you make the aperture smaller, you are letting in less light. And since you're outside in full sun, you want to limit your exposure.

Most people buying lenses want to buy ones with really low f-stop numbers because that lens will be more versatile. You can shoot in lower light settings and you can get a shallower depth of field. My favorite lens is the 50mm 1.2 USM lens. This lens can stop all the way down to a f/1.2!! That's huge! (*That's what she said*) If you just purchased a DSLR your lens most likely doesn't have an f-stop below f/4.0 or f/3.5 at best. Not a bad lens, but you will have a hard time shooting indoors without a flash, or at night.

By now you're probably wondering what all these numbers mean. Here are some examples of my work to show you the difference in f-stops when it comes to shooting indoors and outdoors.

F/ 4.0, 1/800, ISO 250

f/ 2.0, 1/160, ISO 4000

Haha, for lack of better photo, I had to use this one of Rich. It was taken during our White Elephant Christmas Party. There's a story behind that hat I might tell one day. Anyways, notice how the photo of Jill has an f-stop of 4.0, and the one of Rich is f/2.0? I needed to have a bigger opening to let in more light because we were inside and it was relatively dark. Aperture is good for more than just letting in light. It also has the power to increase, or decrease your depth of field. I'll show you what I'm talking about.

In the first photo I start off with a fairly open aperture of 4.0. Only the first palm tree is in focus. The next photo has an f/5.6 and the second one is coming into focus. At f/8.0 almost the first 3 trees are clear. And by the last photo with an f/11.0 they are all pretty much in focus. This shows that the higher your f-stop the greater your depth of field is. This is also how you can achieve the portraits with just your subject in focus and the background all blurry. You just need to have a fairly low f-stop. 

f/2.8, 1/200, ISO 200

Notice how this little one is in focus, but the entire background is blurry? I have an f-stop of 2.8 which decreases the depth of field.

I hope this blog was fairly easy to understand. Now you are one step closer to getting your camera out of Auto and into Manual! Be practicing! Practice is the greatest thing we can do to improve our photography!