When you start playing around with your camera on manual mode, and you start reading posts and articles about photography, and you mingle with other photographers you’ll start to hear them talk about “f”, and you may ask, what the f*** is that f? And why is it so important?

Ok, we’ve already know that f is how we call the aperture levels, and we’ve settled that a big f number means your aperture is more closed, so there’s less light coming in, and a small f number gets you a big aperture, so more light is coming in. Why is this important? As we’ve learnt, the aperture will be a key to upgrade the way we take pictures and shoot, once we know the basics, we are ready to play with focus and depth of field. 

What else should we know about the “f”? There are some basic f properties we’d take into account when we shoot different things, for example, when we’re shooting portraits we’d shoot with a small f number, so the background blurs and the only focusing point will be the person we’ve shoot, unless the background is interesting and will be part of the portrait. Same thing will happen also with things like sports photography or wild life photography.

Portrait photography

Portrait photography

On the other hand, when we’re shooting landscapes and we want to have everything in focus, we’d rather use a high f number, this means a narrow aperture, so everything gets on focus and sharp. This may be tricky because this will mean that to get our picture well exposed, you will need to have a shutter speed longer, which will also mean you’ll need a tripod so there’s no gonna be any blurs.

Landscape photography

Landscape photography

Ok, ok. So, coming back to the topic of discussion. What are photographers talking about when they talk about f stops? This makes reference to the light that the aperture is letting pass to the sensor. Therefore it’s important when we want to expose things, and on the way we want to expose them. Therefore we’ll have full stops, 1/2 stops and 1/3 stops. This means that when we increase or decrease our full stop the light that’s coming in and hitting the sensor will be half, or double our previous one, and the stops in between will be a proportion.

Then, what’s recomended is to know, memorize somehow (or carry around a cheat sheet on our photography bags) the full stops. And those will be:

Full f stops

Anyways, take it easy, because if you have a short spam memory as I do, you won’t be able to remember all this all the time, I think this are those things that come natural with practice. So… get out there and tell me if you’ve found this helpful, and above all, show it to me!

Just as a gift, I’ll gonna get here the cheat sheet I’ve found on digital camera world site.


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