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Hello and welcome to the KLP blog! My name is Kelsie and I'm a wedding & portrait photographer based in Columbus, Ohio. Grab a cup of coffee (or in my case - a chai latte), a glass of wine or a bottle of coke and enjoy viewing my latest work, browsing resources for brides and photographers, and getting a little peek into my life.

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For Photographers

November 30, 2016

How to Master Aperture

My favorite reason why I love to shoot on manual is aperture. This part of the manual mode “triangle” is the main reason why I am able to achieve a consistent style in my images. When I set my camera settings, most often, the first thing that I make sure I set is aperture.¬†Then I make adjustments on the ISO and shutter speed. Aperture, or f-stop, controls a few things in the final image:

1. The amount of light coming into the lens.
2. The depth of field.
3. The BOKEH (Give me all the heart eyes!!!).

The aperture of your lens differs based on the lens. As you invest in higher quality glass (lenses), the aperture goes down to 1.8, 1.4, or even 1.2 depending on the brand. The lower the number, the more open the lens is. I often say that I shoot “wide open” and this means that I have my f-stop open almost as low as it will go, typically at 1.8. Now let me say this, shooting wide open is not for everyone and nor do I do this all the time. It is simply part of my style. Shooting at lower apertures lets more light into the camera, and it really comes in handy for low light situations.

Let’s analyze these two photos for a minute. (PS a HUGE thanks to Monica for letting me use these images.. I didn’t really give her much warning before I snapped them!) The photo on the left was taken at ISO 100 f/7.1 1/125 sec. The photo on the right was taken at ISO 100 f 2.0 1/500 sec.

What immediately stands out to you? Take a minute to find a few differences.

The lower your aperture, the smaller your depth of field. This means that the more open your lens, the less room you will have to focus. The image on the right was taken at a lower aperture so there is a smaller depth of field that is in focus. For example, the back part of her jacket/hood on the right is a little fuzzier than it is on the left. It’s for this reason that I do not shoot families or bridal parties below 2.0. There are too many faces to risk someone being out of the plane of focus, so I usually bump it up a few stops depending on how many people I have in the image. TIP: The more “planes” or rows of people in the image, the higher your aperture should be so that everyone is in focus.

Finally, my favorite part about aperture is the beautiful bokeh that it creates. In case you don’t know what bokeh is, it is the creaminess and blurriness in the back of my images. The more bokeh in an image, the more my client’s pop off the image. Using bokeh is a HUGE part of my style (which you can read about here!) so, that’s why I start with aperture when setting my camera in manual. What I love about these two images is that, although there is bokeh in both, there’s clearly more in the right image. Monica pops off the image much more clearly than she does on the left image. You’ll also notice that the right image looks “creamier” than the left. This comes with lower apertures and I love it! It really helps with achieving smooth skin tones and just makes all of the pictures look a little bit more dreamy. ¬†Finally, the farther you are away from your background, the more bokeh there will be at lower apertures.

It is so hard to talk about each component of the manual mode triangle without referring to how it relates to the other two parts. Don’t worry, we will get there! In the mean time, if you have any questions, please reach out! I would love to chat with you and help you better understand your camera. Stay tuned for next week… ISO!

Happy snapping!

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