Creative uses of Aperture

Creative Uses Of Aperture

Creative uses of Aperture

Part 2

In last article I explained what Aperture is and how it works. In this article we are going to look at some creative uses of Aperture.

Aperture not only controls the exposure, it also controls the Depth Of Field.

What is Depth of Field?

Let’s go to Wikipedia for a basic definition of Depth of Field (DOF):

In optics, particularly as it relates to film and photography, depth of field (DOF), also called focus range or effective focus range, is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image. Although a lens can precisely focus at only one distance at a time, the decrease in sharpness is gradual on each side of the focused distance, so that within the DOF, the unsharpness is imperceptible under normal viewing conditions.

When considering depth of field the basic thing to remember is that the higher the f-stop number is, the more elements in the scene will be in focus.

Creative uses of Aperture
One of the Creative uses of Aperture is to control the Depth Of Field. In this image by using higher f stop , I have more elements in focus.
Creative uses of Aperture
Another Creative uses of Aperture is to make a shallow DOF to get the attention to the element of your choice.
Creative uses of Aperture
Shallow or Long Depth Of Field, that is the question

What are the uses of DOF in photography?

Depth of Field has many creative uses in photography. For instance when composing landscape pictures, you want to have as much in-focus elements to show the beauty of the scene:

Creative uses of Aperture
Long Depth of field to have more elements in focus

On the other hand, in portrait photography you want your viewers to pay attention to your subject only, not the surrounding elements.

Creative uses of Aperture
Using lower F number for shallow DOF

By controlling the DOF you can draw your viewer’s attention to a part of the image or the whole scene. Our brains like to look at sharp and focused images, so if there are elements in the photo which are out of focus, our brain does not usually notice them. See the example below:

Creative uses of Aperture
The effect of Aperture in photography

On the right side of the image you notice the business card instantly, whereas on the left side of the photo the camera in the background compete for our attention.

Another popular creative use of aperture is to use a high f-stop (narrow aperture) such as f16 or f22 which turns small light sources into a “Star Burst” effect:

Creative uses of Aperture
Selecting the f stop changes the small light sources in to Star Burst effect. Photo by Natalie Stephenson

A discussion on creative uses of aperture wouldn’t be complete without looking at using a lower f-stop (wider opening) such as f1.8 or f2.8 to achieve small blurred circles of light patterns, commonly known as the Bokeh effect:

Creative Uses of Apertute
By using a lower f-stop (wider opening) such as f1.8 or f2.8 to achieve small blurred circles of light patterns, commonly known as the Bokeh effect:


What is the Bokeh effect?

Wikipedia defines Bokeh effect as:

In photography, bokeh (Originally /?bo?k?/?bo?ke?/ boh-kay — also sometimes pronounced as /?bo?k?/ boh-k?) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”. Differences in lens aberrations and aperture shape cause some lens designs to blur the image in a way that is pleasing to the eye, while others produce blurring that is unpleasant or distracting—”good” and “bad” bokeh, respectively. Photographers sometimes deliberately use a shallow focus technique to create images with prominent out-of-focus regions.

Bokeh is often most visible around small background highlights, such as specular reflections and light sources, which is why it is often associated with such areas. However, bokeh is not limited to highlights; blur occurs in all out-of-focus regions of the image.

Bokeh sample from Flickr
Bokeh sample from Flickr

Stay tuned for our next article where we’ll look at how to select a lens considering the Aperture.

If you want to learn more about the creative uses of Aperture, check out our upcoming Digital Camera Bootcamp which starts on September 11. This eight week program covers many creative photography techniques and is for beginners to intermediate photographers who want to unleash their creativities.

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

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