Hen House Photography Series: Aperture

Here we meet again to talk about all things photography. Today’s topic is aperture. Our first side of the”exposure triangle”.  We are currently three weeks into the Hen House Photography series where we are talking about learning the basics of photography. To look back at what we have already covered on shooting manually click here. Photography is a magical thing. It represents people through other subjects and gives viewers the opportunity to see the emotion and thought process of the photographer through the shot. Here we will learn how to produce the best photograph to represent those thoughts to their fullest potential.

Just to know a little about me

I have been shooting with a DSLR since 2011 and recently switched over to a full frame last year. This  was a GREAT DECISION. However, if you are just starting out I suggest going with a low end DSLR until you get the hang of things.

In 2016 I began shooting professionally and started my own photography business, Hen House Photography. If you have been paying attention note that I started shooting in 2011 and didn’t begin charging clients until 2016. I chose to do this out of respect to other artists, I did not buy a camera and call myself a photographer the next day. It was a goal for me to master the ins and outs of how to shoot and how to properly use the equipment on hand.

Again, if you are reading this I commend you for taking the time to educate yourself! In 2012 I studied photography and graphic design  at a local community college. This helped an incredible amount, especially taking a film class. Film is absolutely amazing, and a good dark room session does amazing things for the soul! We are now going to jump into a quick crash course on all things aperture. Grab a notebook and write down the key points!

(Disclosure: There are affiliate links through out this post. At no cost to you, if clicked upon it is possible I may make a small compensation.)

All About Aperture:

Whenever you see portraits with an in focus subject and the background is completely out of focus this is due to the aperture setting. Aperture represents how open the camera lens is. Meaning how much light is being let into the camera. The higher aperture the greater depth of field you will have in an image. And vice versa for lower aperture.

Think of it like this:

Hold a tight fist in front of one of your eyes and the other eye. Almost like you are making a telescope out of your hand. Look through a tight-gripped fist. The closer you clinch the fist the less light comes through. The more relaxed your fist is the more light you are able to see.

Light is what makes more of a shallow depth of field. This means there is more ability to blur the background and keep the foreground in focus. The lower number the blurrier background, where one object will be in focus. The higher aperture the more objects will be in focus and less light will be let in.

If you are looking to shoot more distinguished portraits look for a prime lens that has a lower aperture setting. My favorite is the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens.  This lens is my personal go-to for almost all portrait shoots. Notice in the link it says 50mm f/1.8G. The f/ is the aperture. Aperture is also referred as the f-stop. The lowest you will normally see is f/1.2. A low aperture is nice when shooting ONE individual. However, if you are hoping/wanting to shoot more then one subject you will not need the aperture to be set this low. That is why the stock lens is awesome to start out with. It will do everything you want it to do.

Here is a quick cheat sheet for aperture settings:

How to Set Aperture on A Nikon

If you are working with a Nikon D750 the F stop setting is so very convenient. It is a small dial located on the front-right-side of the camera body.Perfect for your pointer finger to scroll quickly if wanting to switch up the depth in-between shots.

It is important while you are messing with the dial you pay close attention to the light/exposure meter you can see if you look through the viewfinder. The meter will be at the bottom of the view finder. Visually it almost looks like a ruler with a 0 in the center.

We all form a personal preference 

Personally I like my photos to be slightly underexposed. So whenever I play with the aperture dial I also make sure that the shutter speed is correct. When all the “stars” align, meaning the aperture agrees with your shutter speed and ISO.  The light meter should be directly at zero (or in the middle). But like I said I like to keep mine around -1, just for editing purposes! Play around with it and see what works best!!

This dial location will differ with different cameras. Some only have a dial on the backside of the camera body. Those normally require having to hold down the FN button while scrolling the dial in order to change the aperture.

That was the way my first DSLR was set up. Back in 2011 where the Nikon D3100 was just about to go out of style and we got a great deal. This camera was my baby and came with a guide setting that actually taught me a lot. I highly recommend playing around with the guide setting if there is one. Today I would not recommend buying the D3100 because much better versions came out.

For a beginner camera that won’t break the bank check out the Nikon D3500 (that comes with a built in wifi adapter making it so easy to transfer pictures to your phone). It is a small bodied DLSR that has all the bells and whistles.

This concludes the aperture part of the Hen House Photography series. I hope there is some useful information and that it was presented in an easy-to-understand way. Stay tuned and subscribe below for the next part of the series all about ISO!

Here are some shots I took with different aperture settings!

Thanks for the read! Feel free to share inspiration and ideas in the comment section below, I would love to hear from other artists!

-KEHENNE