An Aperture Mantra in the All American Rose Garden

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Aperture is a strange concept when learning photography. Aperture is defined as the size of the opening in the lens that light passes through before it hits the photographic medium which, these days, is an electronic sensor at the back of the camera. Aperture is also measured in some strange language called f-stops. F-stop numbers look to defy logic as the larger they are, the smaller the size of the aperture and the larger the focus area. Consequently, the smaller the f-stop number, the larger the size of the aperture and the smaller the focus area. Confused?

A fellow blogger, Karen of Karma’s When I Feel Like It Blog, came up with what she calls a mantra about aperture so she can remember what the f-stop numbers mean. I found the mantra brilliantly simple. You know, one of those “I could have had a V-8?” slap to the forehead brilliant. Here it is:

Big number, big focus area, little number, little focus area.

To demonstrate, I photographed a pink rose in the popular All American Rose Garden located outside Cinderella Castle (between the Castle and Tomorrowland), down near the old Swan Boat dock. I used a big and little aperture (see photo below) to show you the difference. With a big aperture number of f/29, the range of focused objects is big and goes from the rose to the castle. The little number aperture of f/4 had a little focus area with the rose being the only object in focus.

Aperture examples in the All American Rose Garden in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Aperture Mantra comparison in the All American Rose Garden.

When you are out doing photography, practice this mantra by using both big and little aperture numbers. Then, when faced with a scene, you can ask if you want a big or little focus area and know how to set your camera’s aperture to achieve it.

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Scott's "Photographic Innoventions" blog focuses on intermediate to advanced photography concepts and techniques relevant for Point and Shoot and Digital SLR cameras.

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