Open The Aperture To Take A Slice Of Life


Whether you are shooting on film or digitally, you can take advantage of the physics of light to keep one “layer” of what you see through your viewfinder in focus and throw other parts of a view into a blur. This change will still remain top quality even if you image converters like: https://skylum.com/luminar/raw-converter.

Open The Aperture

(But one of the joys of film photography is that, because a piece of 35mm or medium format film is larger than that of all but the most expensive digital sensors, it’s so much easier to dissect the world with your camera in this way. This is just a consequence of the laws of optics. Film camera bores like me also benefit from there being no computational sharpening of their images by default.)

The way to control the depth of the “slice” you take is with the aperture setting on your camera. This determines how wide the lens opens to let in light when you take a photograph. Usually, an SLR camera can be put in “Aperture Priority Mode” (or some similarly named state). To do so, you turn a dial on the camera to the “A” position. When I am taking candids, portraits, and most group shots, this is my default setting.

I use Minolta bodies and lenses almost exclusively. They are extraordinarily good at focusing and setting exposure levels automatically so, even though you can sharpen it from her https://skylum.com/luminar/sharpen-image. At the same time, I will almost always adjust the aperture settings manually, and I will alter the other settings by hand less often.

Because it is such an important aspect of making a picture and because it is also a subtle and counter-intuitive one I am going to have to explain setting the aperture throughout multiple posts. I’ll come back to this subject repeatedly.

In the meantime, it’s good to know that most modern cameras also have several other, fully automatic, modes that will choose reasonable aperture settings for you. There’s more to these modes than apertures. Still, for simplicity’s sake it’s best to think of, for example, the Landscape mode as setting a small aperture to keep as much of a picturesque view in acceptable focus as possible, and the Portrait mode as setting a big aperture to lift the face of your subject out of the frame.


  • You can use the aperture setting on your camera to choose the depth of the slice you take out of the world when you take a photograph.
  • You can use the “Aperture Priority” mode on your camera to give you the freedom to set the aperture manually while your camera handles everything else automatically.
  • You can use the other automatic modes on your camera (typically called “Portrait”, “Landscape”, and “Action” for example) to obtain some of the control of Aperture Priority mode without having to worry about finding the best aperture setting (or f-stop) for each photo you take.

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