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The aperture controls

By Charles Hopkins Published 07/6/2006 | Arts and Culture

The aperture controls

Ask any photographer and he will tell you how important the aperture is. It is through the aperture that light travels to the image sensor in a digital camera or the film in the conventional camera, imprinting an image. The photographer can adjust the size of the aperture to regulate the amount of light that falls on the senor.

The photographer knows that too little light will darken the picture while too much light will make the picture turn white. To get a good picture, the photographer must ensure that the right amount of light falls on the sensor.

Joseph Nicephore Niepce was among the first photographers who used an iris diaphragm that worked as an aperture. This was in the early 1820s. Later, Waterhouse Stops used a series of black metal plates to regulate the aperture opening. Each of these metal plates had different sizes of holes present in them. To change the aperture setting you just had to choose the appropriate metal plate and insert it within the lens.

The aperture settings have become more refined in the recent years. The desired setting can be chosen simply by rotating the plate. Once the aperture of the desired size and the lens are in line a photograph can be clicked.

Besides regulating the amount of light, the aperture is also used to regulate the depth of field. For instance, if you want to take a picture of an animal amidst natural surroundings then you must keep the aperture small. This will increase the depth of field and capture the entire area around the animal on the film. It should be noted that the background is not blurred or lost in such a process.

In contrast, if you want to reduce the depth of field you must go for a larger aperture setting. This is done when the photographer wants to shoot a portrait. In this case, the background is dulled while the features of an individual come out sharply.

The aperture therefore constitutes a most important setting in a photographer's armory. The photographer can increase or decrease the depth or field as well as picture exposure by altering the aperture setting.

The aperture controls are referred to as f-stops. The f-stops are fractions and range from f/1 to f/45. No single camera has the entire aperture setting. Each of the f-stops let in exactly half the amount of light when compared with the next higher setting.

In a camera that allows a relatively high degree of zooming capabilities you should remember that while zooming in the aperture size decreases. Hence the more you zoom in the aperture size will reduce that much more. This should be done when you are shooting a landscape picture, like rolling hills or green forests.

Since the aperture allows the light to hit the image sensor in the camera it is possible to adjust the exposure setting of your film. The longer the aperture is opened more light pours in and the image becomes lighter. You must remember that too much light will destroy the photograph.