Photography tips: When to use a large aperture

Learn how aperture affects your photos, plus the scenarios in which you might want to use a large aperture to capture great photos.

Aperture plays a significant role in photography, and the f-stop you choose can easily make the difference between a bad picture and a great one. Learn more about what the aperture setting is responsible for and when you might use larger ones for better photos.

What is aperture, and what does it do?

Aperture is a hole in the lens that controls how much light gets into your camera. It’s one important element of the exposure triangle, along with ISO and shutter speed. Aperture also affects your depth of field, which is defined by the level of clarity or blurriness of certain elements within a photo.

When to use a large aperture.

F-stops of 1.4 to 5.6 are generally considered to be large apertures. A large aperture means that the lens is letting in more light. And when more light is let in, that produces a shallow depth of field. You can use large apertures anytime you want to add dimension to your photos.

If you’re wondering what this looks like, imagine taking a close-up of a friend. When you set your camera to a large aperture, you’re going to allow a lot of light in and lose background focus at the same time. This means that your main subject will be clear and sharp, while the area behind your subject will be out of focus — a technique you’ll often see in portrait photography.

Macro photography — where you make tiny objects look larger than life — is another area where large apertures come into play. Take a moment to learn some cool photo tips for that niche and more.

Then, explore everything you can do with Adobe Lightroom to edit and play with aperture settings in your photography.