Photo Lesson Overview on

CGIPix is an observation that Nikon, Canon and the rest no longer make cameras,
they make computers that you can attach a lens to.
Here is a basic overview of what it takes to create good, better or best pictures, you decide how much effort you want to put into your pictures.

The basics of using the aperture of your lens, in one short lesson:


The effective use of aperture plays a large part in how a photograph will look.

This photo was taken with a Nikon 600mm F4 lens, at F4, the subject distance was around 20 feet, the background at 40 feet. By using a long focal length (600mm), and a shallow depth of field (F4), the background is blurred out to become a pleasing tone of colors. The background blur is helped by using a long lens, such as a 300mm or longer.
There is no Photoshop involved in creating the image, it was all in the lens.

Aperture ratings and the light transmission , in parentheses, are as follows:

F:1 (1)   F:1.4 (1/2)   F2 (1/4)   F2.8 (1/8) -- Most prime lenses and fast zoom lenses.

F:4 (1/16)   F:5.6 (1/32)   F:8 (1/64)   F:11 (1/128)   F:16 (1/256)   F:22 (1/512)   F:32 (1/1,024) -- Most 35mm zoom lenses

F:45 (1/2,048)   F:64 (1/4,096)   F:90 (1/8,192)   F:128 (1/16,384) -- View camera lenses

Each F Stop is halving the amount of light passing through the lens, F:1 is full light, no reduction, F:16 is allowing 1/256 the amount of light to hit the sensor as F:1.

Most 35mm camera zoom lenses will have a range of F:4 or f:5.6 to F:22 or F:32.

35mm prime lenses will go down to F:1 in rare cases, most are in the F1.4 to F:4 range, with a maximum aperture rating of F:16-F:32. View cameras will have extended aperture ranges, going up to F:128 on an 8x10 view camera.

An 8x10 view camera creates a negative or slide that is 8x10, or 80 square inches, a 35mm film camera or full frame digital camera creates a negative, slide or has a sensor that is ~ 1x1.5 inches, or 1.5 square inches. So, an 8x10 view camera is projecting light onto a medium that is more than 50 times larger, thus the aperture numbers have to be larger.

Here's where aperture gets tricky, the larger the number, the smaller the opening. Shooting at f:1.4, the aperture is fully open, allowing the most amount of light to strike the sensor. At F:16, the aperture is closed, restricting the light hitting the sensor.

Depth of Field The depth of field is the amount of the image that is in focus, the smaller the F stop, i.e. F:1.4, the less of the image that will be in focus. The larger the F stop, the more that will be in focus, i.e. F:22. There is also a hyper focal length for each lens, where at a given F stop, and a certain focal length lens and objects no closer than a certain distance, everything will be in focus. The shorter the lens, the quicker the hyper-focal length is reached, a 24mm lens will hit hyper focal much easier than a 200 mm lens.

What Aperture to Use? The best aperture is dependent on several factors, the first being available light. On a sunny day, using a low ISO setting, i.e. 200, then your aperture for general shooting should be around f:8. General shooting would be landscapes, people, architecture, and sports. The reason for shooting at F:8 is that most lenses create their best images, with the least amount of distortion in the middle of their range. F:8 is the middle of the aperture range for most 35mm lenses.

When to Vary the Aperture If you're shooting indoors or on a cloudy day with available light, then the aperture will have to be opened up to almost the maximum. This is where faster zoom lenses, or prime lenses are helpful. Fast zoom lenses are rated at f:2.8, while a standard zoom lens could be as slow as f:5.6. The ISO can be increased, and that will sacrifice some image quality through noise, or the shutter speed can be decreased, and that will sacrifice image quality due to blurring.

Creative Use of Aperture The other reason to vary aperture is for the creative element that it adds to a photo. Opening the aperture up all the way will create a shallow depth of field, the area of the image that is in focus. If you want to highlight one item in the photograph, and create a blurred background, then shoot at a wide open or nearly wide open setting. This won't work with lenses such as an 18-55mm F:4.5-5.6, it doesn't open up enough to effectively blur the background. This will work very well with a 80-200mm F:2.8 lens at 200mm, and even better with a 300mm F:2.8, 400mm F:2.8, 500mm F:4, 600mm F:4 or longer telephoto. Don't worry, if you want a blurred background, but not an ultra-expensive lens, there are ways to create the effect on the computer after you're done shooting.

The other end of the aperture can be used to create a blurred effect due to motion. This can be accomplished by panning, or with a tripod.

This shot was taken at F:11, 1/200 of a second, handheld, while following the subject. The majority of the motorcycle is frozen, while the background and wheels are showing motion.

By mounting the camera on a tripod, you can use the high end of the aperture ring, and create effects such as blurred water, moving headlights and blurred people against a solid building. To create a fluid blur, the shutter speed is best around 1 second or longer.
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