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Camera Exposure: Aperture, ISO & Shutter Speed

On my two Canon DSLR cameras, the depth of field preview button is on the camera body, next to where the lenses are attached, on the opposite side of the camera body to the shutter button. Your camera may be different, so check your user manual. So if you focus on something 10 feet away, at best, everything beyond 30 feet away will be out of focus.

First, you need to understand how aperture values are measured, and also how the aperture affects the exposure of your photos. The aperture scale is logarithmic. This means each aperture size on the aperture scale is twice as large as the aperture to its right, and half the size the aperture to its left. A large aperture lets a lot of light through. Therefore, the size of the aperture affects the exposure of the image, i. When you take a picture, light from the scene travels through the lens, enters the camera and hits the sensor, creating a digital image.

Exposure refers to how bright or dark the resulting photo is. If a photo is under-exposed too dark , detail will be lost in the shadows darker areas of the image. When a photo is over-exposed too bright , detail will be lost in the highlights brighter areas of the image. The exposure triangle diagram below illustrates the relationship between these three elements. It helps you understand why your camera automatically chooses certain exposure values and what you can do to take control of exposure when you need to. As you can see in the Exposure Triangle diagram above, whenever one side of the exposure triangle is changed, the exposure gets darker or lighter.

In order for the exposure to remain unaffected by the change, at least one of the other sides needs to change — in the opposite direction. When in automatic and semi-automatic modes the camera takes care of the exposure triangle for you. In manual mode, you have to take control of all three elements of the exposure triangle.

The important thing is to understand the effect of making changes to your camera settings. Before I show you a selection of photos taken at different apertures, take a look at the diagram below. The exposure remains constant and the only changing variable is the aperture. Notice how the depth of field increases every time the aperture size is decreased. The first thing to note is that there are no rules when it comes to choosing an aperture. It depends greatly on whether you are going for artistic effect or to accurately balance the light in a scene. To best make these decisions, it helps to have a good knowledge of traditional uses for the different aperture listed below.

As I said before, these are only guidelines. Now that you know exactly how the aperture setting will change a photo, you can experiment yourself and have fun with it! You think you know everything about photography? Great site and article.

Understanding Aperture: Take Control Of Depth Of Field For Professional Results

I have never understood aperature until NOW. Thanks for explaining it so well. Well,… I have a nikon coolpix L Very amateur.

Aperture, f-numbers and depth of field

But how can I play with this aperture with my zoom lens? I suggest you google, or check the manual of your camera to find out how to do it.

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Thanks, Josh. Josh, great info.. I suspect I will learn a lot from you and many others.

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Thanks for sharing!!! In high school physics class, we learned that light, from its point of origination such as the midpoint of the lens passing it , decreases in intensity as the inverse square root of the distance distance to the film or digital sensor. Thus, it is an interesting mathematical exercise to note that F-stops or apertures are numbered in a logical progression.

That is why an aperture of F2. If you know the reasons why the F-stops are numbered as they are, the matter of halving or doubling the shutter speed falls into place. F-stops are numbered the way they are so that each is double or half the value of the adjacent setting. This is known as depth of field.

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You can think of depth of field as a glass window pane that intersects with your subject. The thickness of the glass changes depending upon your aperture. Also, depth of field falls off gradually rather than dropping sharply, so the window glass analogy is definitely a simplification. You can see how that looks here:. If you want your entire photo sharp out to the horizon, this is what you should use. It includes things like diffraction, sunstars, lens aberrations, and so on. Learn those first. They have the most obvious impact on your images, and you can always read about the more minor effects later. Of course, putting everything into practice is another matter. Luckily, you have the building blocks. Hopefully, this article clarified some of the confusion, and you now have a better understanding of the fundamentals of aperture.

Spencer Cox is a landscape and nature photographer who has gained international recognition and awards for his photography. He has been displayed in galleries worldwide, including the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and exhibitions in London, Malta, Siena, and Beijing. Read more about Spencer here. Understanding f-stops is important in order to create stunning photographs like this one. Table of Contents.

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