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First off, please make sure you saw the cutesy camera animation in PHOTOGRAPHY 101 before continuing onto the fun that is APERTURE. :)

Aperture, in basic terms, is how big or small the hole in your lens is.


Think of the pupil in your eye, it opens and closes in size depending on the amount of light your brain needs to see!

In photography terms, the aperture is measured in "f-stops." i.e. f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/22 etc. (We won't go into the math part of this...)


The "smaller" number your f-stop is, MORE amount of light enters your camera.  The "bigger" your f-stop is, LESS amount of light enters your camera. 

Why does APERTURE matter?

In fancy terms, aperture controls the "depth of field." much of your image is in focus.

Let's take a look at the images I so thoughtfully took over yonder to demonstrate "depth of field."


If you notice...the HIGHER the aperture number, the MORE focus and details you get overall.  With an aperture of f/11, you are able to see the Popeye powder, liquid yogurt, and oh so delicious Italian heaven ....all about diet balance, right?


Anyway, the LOWER the aperture number, the LESS focus and details you see in your image.  You know, when you get that cool "blurry" effect behind an object.  This lower aperture number is usually preferred in portraits and still life images. 

So you may be thinking..."YEAH, BLURRY BACKGROUND, COOL! WIDE OPEN APERTURE ALL ZE TIME!" #bokehlove

Take a second...breathe...and I'll explain quickly why it can be an amazing thing and also a very DIFFICULT thing. 

For instance, in these two photographs of me and Nala the Borador, my camera was set to f/2.8 when my husband took the photo.  

The problem:

If you zoom into both photos, Nala is the only subject in focus in the left photo (showing how much she loves stopping to take photos instead of running full force around at the dog park), and I am the only subject in focus in the right photo (well more only my tank top strap, but you get the idea). 

Therefore, when you shoot with a "wide open" lens, you risk missing your focus point. If Nala was a little bit further back and on the same plane as I was, we would both be in focus...just like in the image below of my handsome husband and Nala the Borador.


This is a classic example of handing your camera to someone, hoping they'll get the shot you hope for.  

Shot with a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100

Shot with a Nikon D610

What was my solution to achieve focus on both Nala AND Zack?

Any guesses?...




I simply took a few steps back!  The depth of field changes depending on how far away you are from your subjects...therefore, Nala and Zack are now on the same "plane."   Okay, moving on. 

In the image of my oh-so-cute baby girl below, I illustrate another missed focus point due to shooting with too wide of an aperture. Without zooming in, I was excited. "YESSIRRR, got it!" But then the dreaded moment of truth zoom...

Her lovely blue eyes weren't in focus, her patchy tufts and bow band were... *sigh*

Shot with a Nikon D610

The "moment of truth zoom" can sometimes lead to feelings of sweaty disappointment (due to possibly the exhausting efforts in standing on a ladder, shaking a teddy bear, and making loud barn animal noises, while trying not to drop my camera on my baby) ....


It can also ensue inner thoughts of shame, self-loathing, "I suck.", rapid heartbeat (mainly when it happens during a wedding or something you were commissioned for and didn't take any other shots just in case this happened.)

I mean, that's what I've heard can happen...not from personal experience..

Anyway, I regress. 

Now, is missing your focus point THAT big of deal?  It depends.  If it's a picture of Uncle Bob and you at your 33rd birthday party?  Probably not. But, if it's for a commissioned work?  It's pretty important..


Shot with a Nikon D7000, f/5.6

Shot with a Nikon D7000, f/5.6

Same exact shot, focus point changed for desired subject matter.

Now your assignment.  If you look on your camera at the wheel on the top, there should be an "A."  Turn the wheel to that setting.  You are now in APERTURE mode.  When you are shooting in this mode, you will be able to set the camera to whatever aperture you want, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6 etc. and your camera will set all of the other settings itself to make the "correct exposure."  

Go shoot 5-10 images.  Thoughtful images. Meaning, think about what you are shooting, not just pointing and clicking at whatever is in front of you. Go outside for some.  Play around with different apertures. 

Look through your images, what do you notice? Did you run into any issues?  

Video explanation of the information above for you auditory and visual learners out there!

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