Camera Aperture: How to effectively use Aperture in Photos

Camera aperture is one of the variable in Depth of field.  Focal length, distance and sensor size are the three others.  Camera Aperture is usually the easiest setting enabling you to change the Depth of Field though.  What do you want to include in sharp portion of your picture?  What is your subject? What is distracting?

Pictures have properties that we must work with:

  • They are rectangular;
  • They have only two dimensions;

This rectangle that we have to work with is not always the best shape to tell the story.  Rules of composition lead us to place the subject off-center which in turn means a large area needs to support the subject.

The two dimensions property is also another constraint.  Distractions in the background might attract the viewer away from the main subject.  Hopefully we would like the background to help the subject stand out.

By using the camera aperture creatively you can help your picture.  Opening the camera aperture will reduces the depth of field.  Items farther in the background will be out of focus and their smooth appearance will help the subject pop.  Moreover, this will make the background less distracting.  Should your picture be interesting, the viewer will explore it longer and out of focus areas in the background could still be recognizable.  The picture background needs to support the subject for this to work.

Camera Aperture:  How to use aperture creatively?

In this picture I purposely used a large aperture (small number) to make sure that the subject is well-defined while the background is out of focus.  Even though the background is out of focus, it is partly recognizable and help support the subject appropriately.  These feet, without the background, could have meant something else.  With this background though, they means vacation and relaxation.

A smaller camera aperture (large number) would bring a lot of details in the background.  The Peoples walking on the other side of the pool would be seen clearly and this would be distracting.  A larger aperture would have washed out completely the background, hence the subject would be less strong without a supporting background.

Should you want to know more about the effective use of the camera aperture, read on this interesting and detailed article.

Try it by yourself.  Take the same picture of a subject, relatively far away from a detailed background at a small and large camera aperture and look at the differences.  Please note that when you are looking at your camera LCD, the background might seem more in focus than it is.  Look at the resulting picture on your computer to really appreciate the difference.

Tell me, will you give the camera aperture a priority on your next picture-taking session?