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aperture bubble
Aperture is the part of photography that gets people hooked, myself included. This is because aperture controls your depth of field and gives your photography a whole new level of creative control.

Aperture controls how wide or narrow your lens is when taking a shot. We'll look at this article that talks about aperture priority mode. We'll also cover this article about aperture and depth of field. I'll bring in an old camera to show you how aperture impacts the lens opening. We'll practice depth of field in class and cover camera controls.

Think of your lens like your own eye. Most people squint to see things more clearly/sharply. When you use a small aperture (large f number) everything will be sharp or in focus.


- Shooting "wide open" - Translation: shooting with the largest aperture of your lens
- "Stopping the lens down" - Translation: moving from a large aperture (small f #) to a smaller aperture (large f#)

Bryan Peterson Says (Understanding Exposure) ... 

- Focal length of a lens, distance from a subject, and aperture will all impact depth of field
- Storytelling Aperture - Stories have a beginning, middle, and end. Storytelling shots will have a foreground subject, middle subject, and background subject. We want a large depth of field (everything in focus) and will need to use a small aperture (large f number).
.. Focus 1/3 into the scene, which is debated
- Single Theme Aperture - Focus on one subject and leave the rest of the scene out of focus. We want a small or short depth of field (causing blur) and will need to use a large aperture (small f number). This would be good for portraits, flowers, birds, etc. 
.. Depth of field preview
- Who Cares Aperture - Everything in the frame is at the same focal distance. Apertures of f-8 to f-11 tend to be the sharpest on most cameras and are good to use in these "who cares" situations.
- Depth of field will decrease as you focus closer to your subject

When In Doubt ...

Here are a few links on aperture "rules".

"F8 and be there" (Guidline)

Getting Technical


Avoid the temptation to overdue or use a greater aperture than needed!


One thing to consider when buying a lens is it's f-stop range. We'll look at some examples in class.

f-stop chartdepth of field

The Assignment

Become a depth of field master using this rubric

Aperture Pop Quiz

1. Bryan Peterson would classify this as what type of aperture opportunity? What f number could you use?
2. This type of scene would call for what type of depth of field? What f number could you use?
3. I'm doing a portrait shoot for some family friends. I will likely be using what type of aperture? What f number could I use?
4. You are walking along the beach and spot a sea shell in the sand. Without moving closer, you stop and compose your scene. What aperture will you use? Why?
5. Feeling nostalgic, you decide to head out with your old Canon 35mm camera. The sun is shining when you leave the drug store with your newly purchased 200 speed Kodak film. What will you use for your aperture and shutter speed settings?
6. The First Ave bouncer didn't notice the DSLR with a 35mm f/1.4 lens ($1,165) hidden in your back pocket. After you get a killer spot, you pull the mono pod from your pant leg (they never suspected the limp) and get set up for some shots. The room is dimly lit. What will your ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture settings roughly be? Why did you choose those settings?