Aperture is the second important pillar of exposure in landscape photography. This is one of the photographer’s most important tools along with shutter speed and ISO. Understanding aperture will allow you to study the potential of your camera and take amazing pictures.
In this article you will learn:
– What are an aperture in landscape photography and f-stop
– What is Depth of Field and how to shoot sharp landscape photograph
– How to find the sharpest aperture for landscape photography
– How to set a camera and test the lens (to find a “sweet spot” for your lens)
Have you seen how photographer take sharp images or how he blurred the background? How to control shutter speed and shoot long exposure photography?
You can do this if you understand how to use the aperture.
The lens aperture is a hole inside the lens through which light reaches the image sensor of your camera. I try to give the simplest definition and not complicate the understanding of the aperture. Much more important is the understanding of the practical use of this tool.
Well, as I said, the lens aperture is a hole in the lens through which light penetrates into the camera. You can be set the high or low aperture. The light enters the image sensor faster through a wide hole. Shutter speed will be faster. A small aperture will take more time to pass.
To understand how this works, you can cover the thick jalousie on the window. See, it got darker. The image sensor of a camera needs more time to record a bright image.
Why do you need it?
Depth of field
Of course, the aperture in photography was not invented to change the shutter speed. The lens aperture gives to the depth of field. It is easy to understand and remember. The Depth of Field is part of your photo that seems sharp from front to back.
Some images have a small depth of field, where the background is blurred and out of focus. Images with a large depth of field are sharp from the foreground to the background. In most cases, you need a large depth of field for landscape photography, but not always.
How to change the depth of field bay the settings of aperture?
If you shoot with a wide aperture (for example, f/2.8 or f/5.6) you will take an image of a small depth of field. The foreground will be sharp, but the background will be blurred. A small aperture (for example, f/8 – f/16) does just the opposite, and making a photo darker too.
These values are not universal for all landscape photographs but sufficient for a basic understanding of the aperture in landscape photography by beginner photographers.
What is f-stop?
Surely you don’t have heard such a term as f-stop? When you take pictures, you use the interaction between shutter speed, ISO settings, and f-stop to control exposure.
Again, I will not tell you that f-stop is determined by the focal length of the lens divided by the diameter of the hole, etc. This knowledge will not give practical information for the beginner.
Each f-stop number changes the size of the aperture twice.
F / 2.8 is a low aperture and small depth of field, the background will be blurred.
F / 11 (and more) is a small aperture and large depth of field, the whole frame will be sharp.
This definition is easy to understand and remember. Then why complicate things? We want to photograph the landscape, and not to invent new lenses. But, nevertheless, it is necessary to slightly complicate the understanding of f-stop, depth of field and aperture.
As in the case of ISO (remember, high ISO gives noise and grain and can spoil the frame), so in the case of the lens aperture is not so simple.
The sharpest aperture for landscape photography
When you want to take sharply focused shots, it’s best to choose a high f-stop number by closing the aperture. You can use the camera in manual (M) or aperture priority (Av). This will give full control of the aperture of the camera.
How to set the aperture on Canon?
- Turn the Mode dial to align the Manual mode or Aperture priority Av.
- Turn the small main dial to select the aperture. The camera automatically selects the shutter speed.
- Also, you can set the camera to “Manual” mode, you set the shutter speed and aperture manually.
Why not use the highest f-stop number?
At first glance, this is logical. You’ve probably heard that apertures like f/16 and f/22 are best avoided.
What is a “sweet spot”?
It should be noted that the image quality of many lenses tends to deteriorate as it approaches the extreme ends of the f-stop. This is especially true for zoom lenses because they are so complex.
Each lens has an optimal (working) aperture, which is called a “sweet spot”. The sweet spot, this is the f-stop number using which you take the best image quality.
The rule to finding that mid-range sweet spot is to count up two full f-stops from the widest aperture. On my lens, the widest aperture is f/4 and small aperture f/22. Two full stops from there would bring me to a sweet spot is between f/8 and f/11.
I still recommend using the 2 f-stop formula to calculate the sweet spot of your lens. Can I use a narrower aperture, for example, f / 16? Yes of course. But you should always remember that this will be a compromise between the quality and depth of field.
How to avoid this compromise you will learn by studying Depth of Field and Aperture stacking.
Please check out some of my previously published free tutorials in my archives.
- ISO for Beginner
- Shutter Speed in Landscape Photography
- Exposure Triangle in Photography
- The Depth of Field
- The Histogram in Photography
- White Balance is part of the Exposition
- Exposure Triangle cheat sheet
- Shutter speed chart
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Anyone have any tips to add? Please share in the comments!