Photography basics: high vs. low aperture.

Learn more about the basics of aperture, the various settings, and how each of these settings impacts your photo.

While shooting in your camera’s automatic mode is a great place to start your photography journey, shooting in manual mode allows you to be more creative and push your skills and techniques. Aperture, ISO, and shutter speed are all essential elements to understand.

What is aperture?

The “aperture” is a small opening on the lens that controls the amount of light that gets into your camera. Aperture settings are expressed in numbers, which is how you’ll see them on your camera. Different apertures are referred to as “f-stops,” and are written like this: f/2.

Every lens has a limit for how big or small the aperture can get. For example, a standard lens might include the following f-stops:

Effects of small vs large aperture.

The lower f-stops (also known as low apertures) let more light into the camera. Higher f-stops (also known as high apertures) let less light into the camera. This may seem confusing at first, but will make more sense as you practice taking photos with varying f-stops.

And aperture doesn’t just affect light — it also affects depth of field. The lower the f-stop, the less depth of field and the blurrier the background. Increase the f-stop, and you’ll get a greater depth of field and sharper background as a result.

Discover photo tips and tricks as you begin experimenting with various aperture settings.

Whether you shoot with a low or high aperture ― or anything in between ― you can transform those raw shots into stunning photos with an editing program like Adobe Lightroom.