Friday's Photo Tip - What Does the Aperture Do?
"Aperture" is a photography term that we have all heard about, but sometimes don't really understand what it is or how it works.
If anyone has taken the time to read the owner's manual for their camera, whether you have a point and shoot, or a DSLR, you have run across this term.
How well it is explained in those manuals is another topic.
Most times, you will have read something about your camera being automatic, shutter priority, aperture priority, or manual when it comes to taking photos.
The auto setting is the most popular so the other terms aren't usually given too much thought.
There is an aperture in every lens, and it is used by the camera to control the amount of light that reaches the film or digital sensor.
This aperture is adjustable - from large openings to very small openings, depending on the amount of light that is available.
The size of the aperture is controlled by a ring (on the old lens photo above) that is closest to the camera body.
This ring has numbers that usually range from 1.4 up to 22, and they are known as the f-stop numbers.
These numbers are a value that is given to the aperture opening, and in photography, the lower the number, the bigger the aperture or opening.
The larger the number, the smaller the opening, which usually means you have a lot of light available for the photo.
Think of it like the iris in your eye, because the aperture in a lens works just like one.
When it is really bright outside, the pupil is very tiny - only letting in a small amount of light.
When it is dark, the pupils are huge - they need to let in as much light as possible.
In most digital cameras of today, the aperture is controlled by a dial on the camera, not the lens, and it all still works the same way as the old lenses do when the photo is taken.
And the next question is, what do these f-stop numbers mean, and why does a photographer need to know about them when the camera can automatically figure the light available and pick all the correct settings itself?
Ah - but that's one of the fun parts of photography, and I will explain it the best I can in next week's Friday's Photo Tip.