Aperture

Inside of every lens are a series of blades. The position of these blades (referred to as an Aperture "f /stop") controls the amount of light passing through the lens and hitting our film/sensor - much like a throttle controlling the amount of gas getting to the engine.

As a side-effect, Aperture can also control the area of focus in a photograph, giving us a creative touch to our photograph.

The low range of the f /stop scale, means the maximum amount of light is passing through. (This is desirable when taking sports-action shots.)

With a low f /stop, if my subject is relatively close to me, it will be IN sharp focus, but my background will be OUT of focus and blurry. This is referred to as having limited  depth-of-field, something that's very common for portraits, hence the "portrait mode"  feature on cameras.

Increasing the f /stop closes down the blades, resulting in less light passing through the lens. The side effect to a high f /stop value is an increased  depth-of-field, now my subject is in focus and my background probably is, too.

Having pretty much everything in focus is very common for landscapes, hence a camera's "landscape mode."

In this Aperture example, we see how the depth-of-field changes from being limited, where our eyes are drawn only  to the rock, to the point where the background becomes clearly visible.

"Do I want my background in focus or not?"

That is just one of the many creative questions we must ask ourselves before we even think about pressing the shutter-button.

Aperture f/5.6

Aperture f/5.6

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