What Is Aperture in Photography?

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The aperture on a camera determines the amount of light that enters the lens during the time the shutter is open. Set the right aperture for a particular lighting situation with information from a professional photographer in this free video on photography techniques.

Part of the Video Series: Photography History & Techniques
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Video Transcript

An aperture is like a faucet. In the early cameras and the early lenses you needed a way to a shutter, a way to start and stop the light, and then a way to give more or less light. And so that is what your aperture is. Aperture is the, it is like the iris of your eye it opens and closes. So if you don't have a lot of light you want to have a small number. If it is really bright outside, and you need great depth of field then you want a tiny hole, and a large number. So a large number, I think that Adams, and I don't know who were the people that started they had a thing called F90 or something. And that is usually on a view camera or a large format camera that is the smallest possible opening. The largest aperture you can find. Generally now you see sixteen or twenty-two or thirty-two on some of the telephoto lenses, but that is the trade off. If you need to have the depth of field you need to use a small aperture, and so you are going to have to use a slower shutter speed. Because you have X amount of light so you have to gauge that light, and there is two ways to do it. One is the aperture, which is like a faucet. And the other is the shutter, which is the amount of time that the lens is actually opened to that aperture. So that's what you are going to need to do.


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