Understanding Aperture — A Simple Explanation

June 25, 2013

by Rich Harrington, Rhed Pixel

Aperture is one of the three sides of the exposure triangle.  For many it is the primary force in shaping their photos, particularly if shooting in an Aperture Priority or Manual mode. Aperture is the easiest way to control how deep or shallow the depth of field is in your image.  As such, it’s an important control to master.

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What exactly is aperture?

An easy way to think of aperture is a window that the light must pass through on the way to the camera’s sensor.  As such, the larger the window, the more light you let into your camera. Easy enough, right? Of course, a lower number for the f-stop means a bigger opening (which may seem backwards at first). This is because the f-stop is a ratio that compares the difference between the diameter of the aperture inside the lens and the focal length of the lens.

from Wikimedia Commons

from Wikimedia Commons

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