Making your pictures special with Aperture

The majority of professional photographers set their cameras to Aperture priority.  They know that correct aperture combined with an appropriate focus point leads to stunning images.

So this note aims to increase your understanding of Aperture and depth of field and how it will affect your creativity.

The most general rule is choose the smalls aperture for landscape photography and the largest aperture for portraits.  This is fundamentally what your camera might do if you set it to the mountain or face icon.

The term aperture is latin for hole.  The larger the aperture the more critical your focus point becomes.

Apertures are expressed in fractions so the simplest way of remembering this is the smallest number equals the largest hole and the largest number equals the smallest hole.

Here is a series of images shot from the largest to the smallest aperture to show you the different effects.  The focus point for all these images is the Granny.


Here you have a group of Lego people from Abraham Lincoln at the back to a businessman at the front.  I have focused on the Granny  and you will see that she is in focus but each character either side of her gets steadily out of focus.  This effect is referred to as bokeh commonly pronounced as bowker.  F2.4 is the largest aperture available for this lens.


So now the blonde mum and the skydiver are slowly coming into focus.


The blonde mum is nicely in focus now joining the Granny and slowly the hula girl is coming into focus.


More of our characters are coming into focus and you can now see the expressions on Abe and the businessman


Everything is slowly coming nicely into focus


A little bit clearer


So with f22.  The smallest available aperture on this particular lens you see front to back sharpness with the businessman and Abe coming fully into focus.

Each lens in your bag will produce slightly different effects so test this yourselves and see what effects are possible.

Camera used for this is broadly irrelevant but for those of you that want to know:

Fuji XPro1

Fuji XF 60mm lens

ISO 800

Aperture Priority


6 comments on “Making your pictures special with Aperture

  1. Fantastic explanation, we had something similar at our local camera club last year. The speaker, a seasoned pro was very technical and alot of the newbies ended up even more confused. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Thanks Ed, the idea for this was born out of presenting at a couple of camera clubs where this fundamental was somehow missed. Sometimes I feel clubs err on the side of competitions and not on helping aspiring or seasoned members improve and progress their photographic skills. If there are any particular topics you’d like me to add feel free to suggest. Cheers Chris

      • Thanks Chris, I couldn’t agree more, alot of clubs can be guilty of this, even if its not their intention.
        I’m not very technical myself but generally I am able to capture what I want, even if I don’t know the theory behind it. Most of what I have learnt to date has been from trial and error.
        I loved the way you simplified everything and look forward to seeing more from you,

        Thanks again,


  2. jdschok says:

    Thanks for the details, I love photography and my Nikon D3000, but unfortunately don’t have a lot of time to experience the wonder of it. Your simple English explanation helps a lot for those of us who are not so technically wired. 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s