How to choose the best F.stop in photography

My daughter who I must admit is becoming very good at producing little videos now and has more followers on her YouTube channel (she’s 12.yrs) asked me a question and what I thought would be a very quick answer suddenly became very involved; her question was “why are there so many aperture settings on her camera”?

This got me starting with the basics and then realising how I take this knowledge for granted and should maybe try and put this into my own words as you can imagine there are literally thousands of pages with technical information about this, so bear with me but here we go.

Let’s try and start with what you should do before taking that photo, as you may already know , we live in Somerset the beautiful Southwest, the great and beautiful place for our wedding photography business, I must admit the Southwest has some incredible scenery, any time of the year.

When I go for my walks and spot something I’d like to photograph, without even thinking I decide on what I’m trying to capture, this is usually the F-stop, do I want everything in focus or just pull in on a detail, then I would select the F-stop and adjust either the shutter speed or maybe the ISO in order to obtain a good exposure, here I go heading off on a tangent.

Ok anything from F.8 through to F.16, would be used as what I call anything goes apertures, these are great for landscape as the focal rang is huge, great for landscapes especially if you use the hyper focus technique which I have mentioned about in previous blogs. This being where you focus about a third into the frame, now then F.8 – F.16 would also be a great F. stop to select if it’s very bright sunshine and maybe your shutter speed can only provide a setting of maybe 1/2000 of a second.

(Remember shutter speed effects ambient light, like the sun, it’s kind of, how quick the camera can blink, the faster it blinks the less amount of light reaches the sensor)

So that’s why F.16 would be perfect unless of course you get yourself a good Neutral Density filter, which is like putting a pair of sunglasses on, reducing the light.

So F.8 through to F.16 are great for getting greater detail, good for group photos at weddings or if you have the Bride and Groom in front of a stunning location, you want the background in the photo, so this aperture would be fabulous.

So now let’s look at say F.5.6 through to F.1.2, these are more for detail shots as its depth of field becomes very small, in other words the image becomes softer the farther away from where you are focusing. To try and explain how this works, it’s kind of like, dropping a drop of water into a bucket, the droplet is the light and as it has so much room when it hits the bottom of the bucket it spreads out losing more and more power as its spreads out, we’ll because F.1.2 is such a huge eye! The light spreads out and the image becomes softer and softer causing what the techies call Bokeh!

Hope this makes sense however I now realize I have to tie this to shutter speed and ISO choice which I shall cover in another Blog.

Keep challenging yourself, take a look at the other posts