Photo Basics – Apertures

Banda Neira, Spice Islands

Wide apertures like f1.4 limit the focus to only the eyes – Banda Neira, M-Monochrom. 50mm Summilux.

The aperture is a crucial component of photographic lenses. It’s an adjustable iris mechanism that can be a narrow hole or as wide as the inside of the lens allows. Why is it important? Well, if shutter speeds determine the length of time light shines on a camera’s sensor then the aperture controls the intensity or brightness of that light. Think of it like a pipe. A narrow pipe can only let so much water through in a given amount of time whilst a wider pipe can let through more.

Your eye has an iris, and it will be small on a bright day and wide when the light levels are low. This is exactly how a camera’s aperture works – the aperture controls the intensity of light entering the camera. This is very important for two reasons: Exposure and Depth-of-Field.

Read on for more, and if you find this interesting consider joining me on one of my Leica Akademie workshops – Photo Fundamentals – where I take you through ten different core subjects including Apertures, Shutter Speeds and ISO.

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Six Things you might not know about Photography

(The following article was first published in Australian Photography magazine earlier this year).


Shutter speeds, apertures, focal lengths, camera brands, post processing tricks – these are all essential things to know about and understand, but, beyond the obvious, there are also plenty of aspects of modern photography that are not so well understood – call them photography myths if you like.

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