Shirley Says ~ Part Two: Aperture

Hi everyone, it’s Shirley again!

I’m back with another share from my mini book, Photographing Children and Families.  Last time we discussed ‘what is a good photograph.’  As I mentioned then, there are three components that determine proper exposure, or lighting, of a photograph. They are aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

Today we will discuss APERTURE.

Aperture is the opening (hole) of the lens which lets light pass through. The larger the opening, the more light that can pass through. And, the smaller the opening, the less light that can pass through.

Aperture is measured in F-stops or f/stops (numbers.) Okay, try not to get confused here, but the larger the aperture (opening) the smaller the F-stop (number.) For example, F/2.8 is a larger opening (allows more light) than F16, a smaller opening (allows less light.)

Aperture also determines your depth of field (DOF.) Depth of field refers to the area that is in focus. The larger the aperture (opening), the shorter the depth of field (and F-stop number.) The smaller the aperture, the longer the depth of field.

For example, at f-stop 2.8, you will get a shallow depth of field and, at f-stop 16, you will have a long DOF (focused area.) Therefore, small F-stops are good for portraits in order to blur the background so that it does not distract from your subject, and larger f/stops are better for landscapes and for allowing backgrounds to be in focus.

Small f/stop for close-up portrait and blurry background.Large f/stop for landscapes ... perfect for a family photo at the beach!

Your aperture setting will affect your shutter speed and ISO settings. The larger the aperture (small f/stop number) the more light allowed in, so the faster your shutter speed (less light allowed in) will be. The smaller your aperture, (higher f/stop) the slower your shutter speed will need to be.

Trust me … you’ll understand “aperture” with practice. I promise!

I’ll close for now.  Until next time…Happy Shooting!

Shirley Vaughn



  1. The aperture has always been a mystery to me in understanding exactly how it works ,so thanks for the great information via Shirley – she makes it so easy to understand.


  1. […] can read Shirley’s prior post by clicking here, here, and […]

  2. […] at 27 & Counting. You can read Shirley’s prior photography tutorials by clicking here and here. Thanks for visiting and we hope you enjoy this lesson on shutter speed and ISO settings …. […]

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