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Aperture and depth of field #photo

Picture courtesy of Nikon

The diagram above gives you some idea of apertures, the narrowest ones can be little more than a pin hole. Most lenses don’t go very wide. On a bridge camera they tend to go wider. On my Nikon the widest I can set the aperture is about f/3.5, more expensive lenses will go wider.


You may have seen paintings in art galleries that look great from a distance but not so good close up. They give an impression of a scene. Photography can be the same, the photo can look great until you examine it closely and it is very slightly out of focus. This can be a good thing. I put a filter on my camera this week to make some of my images very slightly out of focus. This is a soft focus filter and quite useful for portrait photography. When you are taking pictures of people though you often want the picture to be really sharp and in focus. Then you can use a wide aperture and take the picture close up or zoom in. You can do the same thing with the soft focus filter for a different effect. My camera will also add a soft focus effect after I have taken the picture. There are a number of editing features on the Nikon D3200.


It was my birthday this week and so I had to photograph the cake! I chose a wide aperture and so the cake is in focus, but the background behind the cake is out of focus. You get the same effect when you take a portrait or even using a wide aperture for wild life photography. Many people marvel at the sharpness of some photographs of birds and animals. If you choose a wide aperture and zoom in on the bird then the bird will be in sharp focus but the background will be out of focus. On my Nikon, if you zoom in on the action using the sports setting, you get a wide aperture and a fast speed, which is ideal for capturing the action. If you want the shot to be even sharper, you can set the aperture yourself. Setting the ISO a little higher if the light is poor will also help you get get a faster shutter speed. The depth of field on this photo is short, just to get the cake in focus.

White balance

As I said last week white balance is easy to understand. My first photo on Sunday when I had guests, turned out very yellow; I had my white balance set for cloudy. I was shooting in incandescent light, so changed the white balance to incandescent and the colours looked right.

Remember if you want all your picture in focus then you use a narrow aperture, this is useful for landscapes. Sometimes, you will have to choose very narrow and a slow shutter speed or not so narrow and a faster shutter speed if there is movement to capture.

That’s your lesson for today. You can follow this blog for weekly lessons and tips on photography and editing. You can also comment and ask questions or follow me on Twitter. I’ll end with a few photos. Can you tell the narrow aperture ones from the wide aperture ones?

3 Responses

  1. Pingback: Remember summer? #weather | Mike10613's Blog

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