One of the important pieces in nailing your exposure is having your fstop (or aperture) set correctly. It is always the first thing I change when snapping away. Your aperture controls your level of brightness and your depth of field in your photo. There’s a small hole inside the center of your camera’s lens that allows light to pass through it and into the camera. The size of the hole is changeable by manually setting your aperture. The larger the opening, the more light passes through your lens. The smaller the opening, the less light passes through your lens.
If you want a lot of light to pass through your lens than you would want to open that hole wider which means your fstop would be lower. I know, it seems backward, doesn’t it? It honestly took me a while to get used to that! So, if my subject is dimly lit, I would set my fstop lower such as f 2.8 so the hole in my lens is open wider.
If I have a subject that is in direct sunlight than I would want to set my f stop higher, such as f 7.1, to adjust for the exposure of my picture. This would mean I am making the hole in my lens smaller, allowing less light to enter.
Now, of course there are other factors that are involved here. 🙂 Remember I said how your f stop, or aperture, also controls your depth of field? If you want to shoot a photo with full depth of field than your fstop would naturally be a bit higher. For example, say you are shooting a photo outdoors and it is pretty sunny. There is some open shade that you are trying to capture for some even lighting. Your f stop would probably be around f 6.3-7.1 for a full depth of field. This means that all areas of your photo will be in focus.
Say you want a shallow depth of field or shoot bokeh. I personally love bokeh. I love the fact that you can blur a background to bring your subject in focus. Take the same situation above. I would adjust my f stop to around f 2.8. Now my subject is the center and I don’t need to see all of the “stuff” going on behind her/him. Here is an example of that situation:
The Zebra picture I shot today with my kids. I would like to say I used my Macro lens, my favorite, but I did not. I used my 50 mm 1.4 lens. The f stop for the Zebra picture was f 3.5. I was just that close to the Zebra. Good thing he was friendly. 🙂
What’s your favorite f stop settings? Do you like to shoot full depth of field or bokeh?
Happy Shooting 🙂