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Digital Camera Aperture

Original article:  Digital Camera Aperture

Exposure is how much light we exposed to the digital camera's sensor in order to correctly record a scene. There are two controls that are responsible for the amount of light reaching the digital camera's sensor. Shutter speed is how long the sensor is exposed to light; aperture is the size of the opening the light will come through to reach the digital camera's sensor. This article will take a look at the digital camera's aperture setting.

Aperture and Shutter Speed
Apertures are measured in f-stops; smaller number f-stops (2.8 for example) let the most light in and higher number f-stops (22 for example) let the least amount of light. The aperture setting works in relationship to the shutter speed of the digital camera. The larger the opening, the more light comes into the camera, the less time the sensor needs to be exposed. The smaller the opening, the less light comes into the camera, the more time the sensor needs to be exposed.
Depth of Field
Why doesn't the larger opening correspond to a larger aperture number? The aperture is actually a measurement of the depth of field. So an aperture setting of 2.8 has a very narrow depth of field - think portrait of person with the background blurry. An aperture setting of 22 has a wide depth of field - think landscape where the tree in the foreground and the mountains in the background are both in focus. So if we are creating a mantra to repeat over and over: the larger the opening, the more light, the less time, the smaller the depth of field. And conversely: the smaller the opening, the less light, the more time, the wider the depth of field. Oooohmmm.

Aperture Priority
Digital SLR and some point and shoot digital cameras allow the photographer to select the aperture size. In this mode, commonly called aperture priority, the photographer controls the size of the aperture and the digital camera controls the shutter speed. Take some time now to consult your manual to find the aperture priority mode on your camera.

Bokeh comes from the Japanese word 暈け meaning "blur" and has been adopted as a photographic term referring to the aesthetic quality of the background blur of a photograph.

Automatic Cameras
Those with automatic cameras should remember that their portrait mode sets a large aperture and the landscape mode sets a small aperture. Keeping this in mind, even with automatic digital cameras, the photographer can take control to create the desired effect. Remember you don't have to be taking a portrait to select the portrait mode.

In the real world
In the photograph above, I wanted to highlight the candle while minimizing the monastery in the background. Because the person holding the candle was moving I didn't feel I had time to set the camera exposure manually, so I simply dialed the camera to portrait mode, framed the scene, focused and shot the picture. Knowing what the automatic settings on my camera were doing behind the scene allowed me to get the desired effect.

The photographer, using depth of field affectively can greatly influence the way a viewer sees a photograph. A narrow depth of field can serve to isolate an object with in the composition of a photograph.

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