One of those very important factors is Aperture. So what exactly is Aperture and how in the world does that effect a photo you ask? It's one of those things that I would've rather eaten my arm off than sit and try to understand it at the time, but with some practice I too learned what it was all about...and it pretty much opened up an entire new world for me. I'm going to try to explain it the simplest way I learned it, and hopefully it helps you understand it too. =)
Okay, so Aperture. Aperture is simply the amount of opening on the lens of the camera. (If you speak Italian of Spanish you can remember it by the word aperto or abierto.) =)
You see lenses are designed like our eyes. When there is a lot of light, the pupil in our eyes gets smaller and lets in less light so it doesn't bother us. When there isn't any light, our pupil opens up and gets bigger... so any amount of light gets in and helps us see better.
The lenses work the same way as a pupil. When there is plenty of light, you would make the opening of the lens smaller, when there is no light... you open it up all the way. Confused yet? Well, that's not all. In order to control the opening of the lens, you need to understand the numbers that control the Aperture.
Below is a a diagram to show you what I mean. This is the part that took me forever to understand. When the lens is opened all the way...the number is smaller such as 1.4, 2.0, 2.8. And when the lens is closed to let in less light, the number is big like 8, 16, 22. These numbers are called f/stops.
In order to control these settings, the camera mode needs to be taken off of Auto, and placed on either Manual or Aperture Priority. In these modes, you are able to control the Aperture numbers. *Dslr cameras have these modes built onto the camera, some point and shoot cameras do as well.*
When you take a photograph and see that the subject is in clear focus and the background is blurry, that is called Bokeh. The Bokeh is also controlled by the Aperture settings.
This photograph displays both the subject and background in clear focus. The settings for this photo was f/10. Since I wanted the subject and background crisp clear, I went for a smaller aperture (bigger number), which is also a smaller opening of the lens.
The settings were f/1.8. I went for a larger aperture (smaller number), which is a bigger opening of the lens.
Phew!.....well that was a super long post and if you're still here, I hope it helped clarify Aperture a bit more. To much surprise, there is actually a lot of math involved in taking a beautiful photo. There needs to be a balance between many different factors, in which Aperture is one of them. I hope you enjoyed these tips and as always if you have any other questions... i'd love to know! =)
Here are a few links to point and shoot cameras that have the Manual mode and have the ability to control the Aperture and other settings. Enjoy and Happy Thursday!!