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Getting to grips with Aperture 


For most of us, taking that first step in switching to the dreaded Manual Mode on your camera can seem ludicrous. Why on earth should I switch to Manual Mode, when the camera can easily take a picture for me? Why should I even leave Auto Mode, for that matter? If it’s there, why can’t I use it.  

Well, you can, but may not end up with a photo you were hoping for. Once you understand that taking a photo is basically exposing light to a sensor, or film, you are halfway there. Last month we spoke about the holy trinity of photography that is the Exposure Triangle, the ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture.  

And I call it the holy trinity, because these three elements work together. They depend on each other, and we combine them in such a way so when we hit that shutter release, the amount of light hitting that sensor or film is just right to get you a “good exposure.” And I put good exposure in quotation marks, because exposure really depends on whether you are happy with the result. Confused yet?  

Basically, ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture (or f stop) do exactly the same thing. They control how much of that light hits the sensor. ISO, the film or sensor speed, does that by being either too sensitive to light, (ISO 3200), or not very sensitive (ISO 50). When shooting analogue, you won’t get very far if you don’t put a film in the camera, so you choose the right ISO for the light conditions. If it’s too bright, you use a less sensitive ISO (lower number) like 50, or 100. If it’s cloudy you use a more sensitive film (higher number) like 400, and the darker it gets the more sensitive film you will need.  

This is the same with digital cameras. Before we start shooting, we check the light and set our ISO speed accordingly.  

This month’s focus (no pun intended) is the aperture. Found in your lens, (not the camera) the aperture basically does the same job that the Iris in your eyes does. If it’s too bright it closes, and if it’s too dark it opens. The wider the aperture can open, the more expensive the lens usually is, so now you know why some lenses are ridiculously expensive. 

Aperture is measured in F-stops like f1.2, f5.6, f11, etc. The lower the number the wider the aperture, and more light will hit the sensor, or film, so an aperture of f1.2 is extremely open, and an aperture of f32 is tiny. Think about it like this: Small number, big hole, big number, small hole.  

So when we expose, we can choose to let in more or less light hit our sensor or film by opening and closing the aperture, just like a tap of water filling up a bucket. The more you open the tap, the more water runs out, and vice versa.  

Now, you are probably wondering what setting to use when you expose. If ISO, aperture, and shutter speed all do the same thing I.e. controlling the light that hits our sensor or film, what do we prioritise on? When do we use aperture? When do we use shutter speed?  

Well, we will be talking about shutter speed in the next article, but when it comes to aperture, apart from controlling the amount of light that hits the sensor, it also does something else that is quite magical: It controls how much of the area behind and in front of your subject is in focus. You might have noticed that landscape shots are always sharp, showing the entire scene in focus, while the background in portrait shots is usually blurry in an effort to isolate the subject you are photographing from anything distracting in the background.  

This control of the sharpness of the foreground and background is called depth of field, and the aperture is the tool with which we control that depth of field. The wider the aperture (low number, bigger hole, like f1.2) the blurrier the background will be, and the smaller the aperture (high number, small hole, f32) the sharper the background will be.  

In other words, if you are shooting landscapes, you would be better off setting a smaller aperture, like f16 or f22, in order to make sure that the entire scene you are capturing is sharp, whereas if you are shooting portraits, you should really set a wider aperture like f2.8, f3.5 or f4 to try and blur the background and lead the viewer’s eye straight to your subject. 

One thing to remember, however, is that zooming in and out with your lens, as well as the physical distance between you and your subject, also affects how blurry or sharp your background will be. The closer you are physically and by zooming in with your lens, the blurrier the background will be, and the further away you are physically and by zooming out, the sharper the background will be.  

A great way to see how apertures work is to click on this link to see how the aperture works on this canon exposure simulator, and to get to grips with exposure check out our Digital Photography workshops. Have fun!   


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Awards, Community, Competition, Composition, Contest, Creative, Digital, Famous, Gallery, iphone, Light, News, Photo, Photography, Portrait
As you probably know form our past blog articles, The International iPhone Photography Awards are actually a thing, prestigious at that, and they are now calling for entries for their 2018 competition with a deadline set for March, 2018. 

The competition is a personal source of inspiration for me, as I love the way mobile photography has become a part of our lives and, through its stealthy use, given rise to citizen journalism all over the world. 

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What you can do to protect your equipment

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , Cameras, Digital, Equipment, News, Newsletter, Photo, Photographer, Photography, Technology, Tips, Travel

There really is no better feeling than getting yourself geared up to take off for your holidays with your camera. As photographers, a change of scenery and the opportunity to document the amazing world we live awakens the artist in us all.

But if we are not careful our well-earned trip could come at a cost. Camera manufacturers insist that our camera gear is “weather resistant”. And there’s the magic word. “Resistant”. But no camera or lens is truly weatherproof.

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2017 Bird Photographer of the Year winners and calls for 2018 entries

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , Awards, bird photography, Competition, Contest, Creative, Digital, News, Photo, Photographer, Photography, Tips

Do you think you have what it takes to take part in one of the year’s most prestigious competitions?

Bird Photographer of the Year (BPOTY) has announced the winning entries for 2017 and is calling for entries to its 2018 competition.

This years £5,000 prize winner was Alejandro Prieto Rojas with his photo of Flamingos taken in Mexico.

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Madeinmedi hosts the founder of the London School of Photography

Tags: , , , , , , Antonio Leanza, Awards, Blog, Love, News, Photographer, Photography No comments

Text Source: HariMag (translated from Italian)
Images by Antonio Leanza

Madeinmedi hosts the founder of the London School of Photography

Madeinmedi this year opened its doors to the world of photography. Students from the Department of Photography will be present at the event with some of their work inside the exhibition. Young, future talented photographers will be able to gain new stimuli from Antonio Leanza, founder of the London School of Photography, who will be present at the show. Antonio, born Sicilian, brings with him forty years of artistic and profound photographic activity. After years of teaching and living in London, he opened the London School of Photography in early 2000. Madeinmedi wants to Award Antonio’s unshakable resolve in sharing his know-how, his vision and experience with cultures other than ours.

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Free eBook – Photography Tips & Assignments

Tags: , , , , , , , , Assignments, Blog, News, Newsletter, Photo, Photographer, Photography, Resources, Tips No comments

In December last year we prepared an e-book with a selection of Photo Tips & Assignments that have been published on a monthly basis since 2012.

They have been selected from the best of our Newsletter, reviewed and updated and include some of the winning photographs as well.

Some of you contacted us to make it available in the blog as well, so here is the link for download:

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Magnum Photos + Lens Culture = Free guide + Photography Awards

Tags: , , , , , , , Awards, Competition, Contest, Lens Culture, Magnum Photos, News, Photography, Resources

If you haven’t heard of Lens Culture yet, you need to visit their website straight away.

The online magazine is a really resourceful place for photographers or anyone who wants to keep up with the latest trends and debates in photography.

They have just released a free guide from Magnum Photos: Wear Good Shoes: Inspiring Advice from Magnum Photographers filled with excellent tips, advice and words of wisdom from the photographers at Magnum, as well as many of their iconic images. A great resource for anyone who wants to make better pictures.

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