Define Aperture Photography


A look into how a camera aperture scale determines the amount of light required for excellent photographs with the proper settings.



Define Aperture Photography


The aperture is one of two principal components for controlling the light into the camera; the second is explained in my previous post “Camera Shutter Speed Explained”.

In this post, we are going to learn about the camera aperture chart and what exactly does it mean for starters. So when we talk about the f-stops, this refers to tell us the size of the aperture picture of define aperture photographyor how big the opening is inside the lens barrel to allow light to pass through to the sensor in the camera that records your picture. The smaller the number is for your f-stop, the bigger the opening is for the passage of light. The opposite is true as you increase the size of your f-stop you reduce the aperture size.


You see the iris is the mechanism that is used to control and create the aperture for the different sizes for the amount of light available to come into the camera. Each f-stop will double the incoming light between each setting or half the amount of light entering the camera determined by whether your dialling up or down for the aperture sizes.


To figure out your f-stop, you can get your f-number by taking the focal length of your lens and divided it by the diameter of the opening of the lens. That is the equation that will give you the f-number.


So your fist part is the focal range of the lens or how much zoom that your lens has.


picture of f stops on lens


The second part is how much diameter of opening you have in the lens.


For example:


If we use a prime lens of 50 mm with an opening diameter of 12.5mm across


Aperture (f) = Focal Length / Aperture Diameter

f = 50 mm / 12.5 mm

f = 4 notated as f/4


Now if we take this same prime lens with a diameter of 25mm and put that into the equation, you divide 50 by 25 giving you an f-stop of 2, so you end up with f/2.

Below is a photo showing a camera aperture chart displaying full f-stops in your possible camera aperture range. The reason I say the possible range is not all lenses are capable of using all f stops do to size and length of barrel that make up the lens. That will be something I will discuss in another post.


picture of camera aperture scale


In the different cameras, you have a mode dial where you can choose A or Av depending on which camera you use to put your setting in picture priority mode. Once you have selected this setting in your display, it will show what your f-number is set on in your camera.picture of aperture mode

For the Canon camera, the jog dial is usually up on front above the shutter button while the Nikon has it located where your thumb rests when you hold the camera.


So if we were to take a canon camera and spin the dial all the way to the left, this would give us the biggest aperture setting for opening up for maximum light that you can have. Just as you spin the dial all the way to the right, you get the smallest setting in the aperture for how much you would minimize the amount of light you would let in.


Some would say why control the aperture?


What it comes down to is you can have blurry pictures because subject or camera has moved before the sensor could finish recording the image you were trying to take. You see the aperture and shutter speed work together by opening the aperture to let in more light we can let the shutter close faster requiring less time for the camera or the subject to sit still for clearer photos.


The first line of defence against blurry photos is by having a bigger aperture. By doing this, it works very efficiently when taking photographs of people and other subject matters for portrait shots. There are other times when you do want lower aperture settings for such pictures as landscapes etc. and here’s why.


Choose a large aperture when you want to blur in front and behind your subject in portraits by using an aperture setting of f/2.8 for instance. Now in the case you want an excellent and clear imagery for the entire photograph such as a landscape, then you would want to use a smaller aperture setting such as f/16 that gives your photos a much sharper image with no blurring. These two F stops are kind of in the middle from the chart above for each type of shot taken in the photographs below giving you the best camera aperture starting point.


picture of best camera aperature


So from the information above you can define aperture photography and how it applies to taking excellent photographs by understanding the difference between the amount of light required for some of your different kinds of photos. In other related posts, we will go over in more depth on how this all ties in together with your Shutter Speed and ISO settings.


” Hi once again, I’m Travis Smithers author of Say It With Photographs where you will find tutorials on photography, editing software, cameras and accessories. The use of post production equipment and their operation to the creation of fantastic gifts for you, friends and family, enjoy. Comments and questions always welcomed here!




  1. I came across you site by accident, but I am very happy I did. I have always wanted to learn more about cameras and how to take better photos. I have some great ones but to be honest they have just be pure luck. Your explanation of aperture in photography is very helpful in understanding what is the best setting for the particular photos I want to take. THANK YOU!!!

    • Hi Marc and nice you happened by. I’m glad you where able to get some good information on taking better photographs by what you learned today and if you have any other questions then I will certainly try to help you out. I also have a free photography courses you can take if your interested on your own time at your own speed.

  2. Hello Travis,
    I take a lot of pictures on my hikes and other adventures. I did not know this topic before but I am excited to begin using it.
    I notice you use Nikon, I use Canon, are they so different in the way the work? I read the part about the Canon you put near the bottom of the article, but do you have more specific information?

    • Travis Smithers

      Hi San and Canon makes great cameras, you will find that Nikon and Canon are rated by most as the top two cameras to purchase. A lot of people really love the easier learning features of some of the Canons over Nikon for there design and handling. I think of it the same way some people prefer certain cars by different companies, each one can have basically the vehicle just different some options and layout which is the same for the cameras.

      You can not go wrong using a Canon and I will be adding more information about the Canons as time goes on. The great thing about a lot of my posts is you can be using many different types of cameras and still take great pictures by using the information that I’m passing on.

      It’s all about you getting the best pictures with the camera you want to use by understanding what it can do for you. Knowledge is power and I’m giving that power to you. Have fun and enjoy your creative side.

  3. This is a good article for beginners to learn about aperture, you’ve gone into a bit of the math without getting too complex, which is great in my opinion (I hate the math!!) It would be good to use the more correct term depth of field rather than blurry though, when referencing the focus range. Blurry suggests movement – and something out of focus is not necessarily blurry.

    Great little site, I hope you get lots of traffic!

    • Travis Smithers

      Hi Sara in the beginning for a lot of people they tend to like using the term blurry as they are learning about shutter speed, aperture and ISO and then later as they start to distinguish more terms and definitions they will understand the difference for blurry and depth of field.

      There is a tendency with beginners who know nothing about photography, when you teach them blurry then the true definition of depth of field. they remember how to set there cameras up for doing the special effect of blurry a little easier. When people question things it gets them thinking more leading to remembering things more which is what learning such be all about.

      Thanks for your comment and this will get some people thinking and talking.

  4. I bought a nice camera a few years ago, but have been so confused as to how to take better quality pictures. Thanks for explaining this, it has been super helpful! I had a lot of trouble taking the picture i wanted and ended up just fooling around with filters and such on instagram after the fact.

    Thanks for the tips! I’ll have to check in again to see what advice you have before my vacation this coming fall!

    • Travis Smithers

      I am glad my site could be of some service to you and help you with the use and functionality of your camera. There will be more information monthly and of course there is always the free photography lessons where you can have the options to pick out any parts that may interest you.

  5. Hi,
    I’ve been learning alot from this site. As a guy that just points and clicks, I’ve never considered myself to be any good at real photography. You really get into the nuts and bolts of things here in an understandable way!

    I’m absolutely going to use this information in future shots, now that I’ll be able to make the right aperture choices for different environments.

    • Travis Smithers

      Glad you where able to get some information that you could use with your photography. There will be new posts on photography as well as the free lessons already available for anyone to view at any time at there own pace.

      Hobbies like photography or business are always great with what you can do with the photographs that you create for yourself and others.

  6. Hi Travis

    I love taking photos of especially when I go to places with breathtaking views. I’m rubbish at capturing good photos so this blog was really useful for me to know how to capture that magic moment correctly. I love the slideshow you got on the side bar! Very well written and presented. Well done! Keep it up!


    • I agree with you how much fun it is to take pictures so I designed this website to help others make the most of taking photographs. This site will give people the opportunity to learn how to take better photographs and create better post production prints, digital photos as well as creating post production gifts.

      I find taking pictures is great but I also like creating presents and gifts with them as well so I thought I would also share the methods and knowledge behind the software and machinery used to take your photographs to the next level. Now you can also learn how all the post production and sublimation is done if you like to learn more.

  7. Great thanks for writing this post. I am totally new to photography and I just bought a new DSLR. I have difficulty to understand the concept of aperture as sometimes the pictures turn out having low brightness and it is almost out of my control.

    Thanks for writing this and share with us how it works. The “infograph” on aperture does help a lot for me!!

    • I find with all the new technology some of the basics are still the same regardless of what we may tend to use for our cameras these days. Knowing the main fundamentals will always insure that you’ll be on top of things, so feel free to check out any of the free tutorials for any extra information that can help you out with your new camera.

  8. HI Travis, thanks for your great post. When my daughter was born, I started to take picture of her, and I realized I have to use great camera, it is not enough if I have only use mobile phone camera. Do you have any recommendation which type of camera for beginners? I have no experience with photographs and I like do right now. Thanks

    • Hi Christian and what I would recommend for you as far as cameras go would be either a Canon or Nikon DSLR, something in the middle range. By purchasing one from the middle range you should be able to find a great package deal, that way you will get the most for your money.

      Secondly with these cameras as you buy your lenses, you can buy a nicer quality lens that makes a bigger difference in your photos than the camera body. This way if you really get into photography you can sell the camera and keep the better lenses to use with a better up graded body later on.

      So I would buy a nice package deal camera and buy better quality accessories to keep for later up grades.

      Hope that helps and you can see some of the different cameras here at the Camera Department.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *