You bought a fancy camera, now what?

What’s the number one thing you can do to take better photos?


It sounds complicated!  But, it’s not as daunting as it sounds.

Shooting in manual comes down to knowing three things:

  1. Aperture
  2. ISO
  3. Shutter Speed

Today we’ll talk about aperture and what it does to a photo.  Aperture is the opening of a lens’s diaphragm.  This opening decides how much light to let through. 

To make things simple, think about the aperture (which is a number) as having an inverse relationship with the amount of light that will be coming through the lens.

So, if the aperture is set at f/1.2 A LOT of light is coming through.  If the aperture is set at f/5.6 NOT A LOT of light is coming through.

This is important to know because you will need to adjust the ISO and shutter speed to have the correct exposure (or amount of light coming through the lens.) But, don’t worry, we’ll get to those two things later.

How do you decide what number to choose for the aperture?  That depends on what you want in focus.  If you are photographing a large group of people or a landscape, you want more things in focus.  This means you’ll need a higher aperture.

If you’re photographing a cup of coffee or a baby, you can have a smaller focus point.  This means you can use a lower number for the aperture…this is often called shooting wide open.

When you’re shooting wide open or at a lower aperture, one thing will be in focus and everything else will be soft or out of focus.  This is usually the affect that photographers want to have.  The danger of shooting everything this way, is having half the family members out of focus.

Here’s an example of how changing the aperture changes what’s in focus in an image.  I took the same photo starting at f/1.2 and ending with f/16.

And just for the sake of comparison, here’s the photo taken at f/1.2 next to f/16.