How Changing Aperture affects Depth of Field

Although I have many titles I am of course, a mommy first and foremost. The addition of my baby daughter in late April has mean’t that I have to be very creative in trying to make time to work, blog not to mention spending some fun time with my other little girl Sophie. So last Saturday I decided to roll these three things into one. We made these delish cupcakes and Sophie decorated them. She was very proud of her work as you can see spending 15 minutes decorating and 2 minutes devouring them!


Meanwhile I seized the opportunity to put together this mini tutorial for you on How Changing Aperture affects Depth of Field.

A lot of my students bemoan the fact that there is too much math involved in photography. And they are right – there is a lot of math! If you got down to it, it’s all about math and physics but where would the fun be in learning about that? What about the creativity of manipulating light and dark? Evoking emotion in your viewer. Perfecting your art?

So let’s get visual and forget about the math for a minute.  What I wanted to demonstrate here is how I can alter the Depth of Field by Changing Aperture settings on my camera. 

Depth of field refers to the zone of acceptable sharpness in a photo.

I took the following pictures of Sophie’s cute cupcakes in succession, everything else been held constant, just changing the aperture of each shot.

You can see how increasing your f number (aperture) REDUCES the size of the opening in the lens  and hence increases the depth of field – the amount of the “in focus portion” of the picture.

Your Turn!

Try this at home by lining up several similar objects – wine bottles, tomatoes, flowers, crayons – whatever you have easy access to.

  • In order to make this as easy as possible for you make sure your in a well lit place
  • Set your camera to Aperture Priority mode- Usually either A or Av on your Mode Dial.
  • Keep your focus point set to the same point each time. In the above pictures I kept focused on the orange cupcake.
  • Turn the mode dial wheel of your camera to adjust the aperture values.
  • Take a shot at every aperture value or f/stop that your lens will allow.
  • Pay attention to what happens to the shutter speed values as you change your aperture.
  • Upload to your computer and view the images side by side. This will be much easier than trying to use your camera LCD screen to view the images.

Can you see the difference between shooting wide open with a low f/stop and shooting with a narrow aperture and a high f stop?

There is a lot more to depth of field and aperture than just this including concepts such as “The circle of confusion” – Ha! but I think we’ll stop there for now.  If you get the above you’re doing good!

I’d love to see some of your shots so feel free to post them on the CameraShy Facebook Fan Page.

Happy Snapping!


Sometimes pictures need words

Sometimes I take photos to remember everyday stuff.  Like last night during dinner, I wanted to remember the name of the bottle of wine we were drinking so out with my iPhone and snap – an image that I’ll be better able to locate than a scrap of paper used to scribble down it’s name.

Of course I also take pictures to remember the momentous occasions – the birth of my new baby daughter for one – lots of pics :)

And sometimes, I take pictures to remember the little things that will in the future become the big things. But I really need to do more of this,  It hit me during this past week – several times. I’ve been gently reminded of the importance of picture taking as a way of preserving the past for the future.  We’ve been gathering up pictures for my MIL’s surprise birthday party.  These tiny square blurry images, from my husbands childhood tell such lovely stories.  By examining what’s in the backgrounds we get excited about a favorite toy that can be seen or the memories come flooding back about that particular birthday party.  These little squares with rounded off corners are windows into the past – Goodtimes and happy memories.

But a lot of the time we were left guessing.  Who is that? What ever happened to her? Was that you or your brother?   If only there was a little journaling to go with them, those pictures would have sound.  Back in the shop at home, we spend a great deal of time restoring and copying old photos.  These pictures are all people have left when loved ones pass and time moves on.  The really special ones are those with a little bit of handwriting on the back with the who, where, when and sometimes why – Great Aunt Bessie, Endenfell, Oct 1938  – Annual Boxing Day party.

I take so many photos compared to most people but I am so bad at cataloging them.  These days I feel proud of myself if I even get them printed never mind put into an album.   I am terrible about journaling and even when I have done so, I hardly ever record more than  just the facts  I’ve tried to scrapbook but always feel overwhelmed.  But, I’m resolved to change this.  I’m going to do it for my kids – even if if they don’t appreciate it for years to come they will, one day.  How I’m going to do it I’m not yet sure.  Maybe I’ll scrapbook.  Maybe I’ll do more photobooks.  Maybe I’ll make a blog.  Whatever way I do it, they won’t have to fill in the blanks.

It’s important.  Life  is short.  And I’ll record more than just the facts.  Just so they know the why…

How do you record your memories for the future? Are you a scrapbooker?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.