Hannah Morris Photography
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When you step out of the dark into the bright sunlight, we usually blink both our eyes, for our pupils are
wide open in the dark and it would take a moment for them to adjust to a small aperture.
react vert quickly to changing lighting conditions. So fast, that most of the time we are
not even aware of it.
Pupils in the iris
In photography, we have to continuously adjust to the amount of light that is avalaible to us, but more specifically, with the difference between the light and dark areas of the scene we
want to photograph. This is what we call contrast.
In our eyes we regulate the amount of light that will reach our retinas with the pupils, the
round openings in our iris's that gets larger or smaller.
With a camera we have two ways to
regulate the level of light; the aperture with the shutter speed.
To expose our film, there is a third factor: the speed.
Aperture (or diaphragm) or lens opening is a round opening we can make bigger or
smaller. This is done by thin metal leaves that shift over one other. It is situated in
the middle of the lens.
The aperture control ring
Aperture greatly effects light gathering capabilties, so for low light or night work the lowest aperture possible is preferred, some lenses go as low as f/1.2 or f/1.4!
Prime lenses tend to have bigger maximum apertures as it's cheaper to build with a fixed optic, prime lenses don't zoom, the most common and cheapest is the 50mm f/1.8 which we'll discuss more later.
Within classic cameras we can see them opening and closing. When we look in the lens while we move the aperture ring round. On the camera we can set the aperture at certain set positions.
The ring will click in these settings as we turn it.
The display with aperture and shutter speed
Most modern cameras will have data panels and dials. These controls are clean and
practical, yet the direct relation between control and function is unfortuntly lost. This will make it more difficult to master the functions.
For each setting there is a matching number that will indicate the opening. The numbers
put next to one other form the aperture range. The first number is the bigest aperture of
that specific lens. The range goes like this:
The aperture range
1.4 - 2.0 - 2.8 - 4 - 5.6 - 8 - 11 - 16 - 22 - 32
We dont see all of these numbers on the barrel or in the display. There
will sometimes be an intermediate setting. The bigest aperture will sometimes be an intermediate setting, 3.5
for a zoom lens or 1.7 for a standard prime lens. This is not
What is important
A, know that these numbersare form a logarithmic range, because they come from the
area of a circle.
B - Never forget that this area will be doubled or halved with each setting. Therefore - opening
the aperture one from one lens opening to the next is one setting larger, the opening
will get twice as wide and will let through double the amount of light. From one lens opening to
the next, smaller lens opening the area is halved and therefore the amount of light passing
through the opening will be halved.
C - A low aperture number means a large aperture. A high number means a small aperture.
A large lens opening or a small opening is clear straigt away.