Skylight filters: What are they and skylight vs UV filters

Skylight filters were made as a solution to a common problem in film cameras: most films were meant to shoot photos outdoors in natural sunlight, and if you tried to take a photo indoors or even in the shade, the colors would not come out naturally.

One alternative to skylight filters were UV filters, but with modern digital cameras, you can get away without using skylight filters at all. In fact, in most cases, you will be better off without any skylight filters at all.

example of a lens filter

Why skylight filters used to be important

In some circumstances, photographs would have a blueish tinge which messed up the overall colors of the picture. The blue tinge was caused by blue “cold” light which was present in overcast skies or cloudy skies.

That’s where the name “skylight” came from, since the filters were designed to counteract this issue.

If you were shooting indoors without a filter, you’d get really weird, yellow shades everywhere thanks to tungsten lights!

Skylight filters had an orangeish-pinkish-magenta color which would “warm” up the colors in the photograph, counteracting the “cool” blue light. Filters came in two varieties: 1A and 1B, where 1A had a milder tint and 1B had a more intense tint.

You would simply attach the filter to your camera lens whenever you were in those conditions, and once you were back in sunlight, you could remove the filter and shoot as normal.

Skylight filters were especially useful for film photographers taking nature photographs. If you wanted to photograph a distant mountain, there would be a lot of sky between you and the mountain and all that atmosphere adds a blueish tinge to your photos. The skylight filter helped warm up the color to make it look more natural.

This was a huge advantage, since you could not remove a roll of film until it was fully used up, and there was no way to adjust white balance.

Filters also served as a protective covering on the lens against scratches and bumps.

Related

  • What is flat lighting

Should you use skylight filters on digital cameras?

The simple answer is no.

Digital cameras have advanced processing systems which can adjust white balance on the fly. White balance was an issue when films could only handle one kind of light, but digital camera sensors can adjust and compensate for different lighting as you’re taking the photo.

You can also adjust white balance manually, and if you don’t want to fiddle with it while you’re taking the shot, just shoot in RAW and adjust the white balance later.

If anything, using a skylight filter on a digital camera will change the light coming into the digital camera sensor and the camera will no longer be able to properly correct for white balance.

Additional filters also means additional layers of glass, which increases the possibility of flares. Finally, the magenta toned lens can mess up skin tones.

UV filters vs Skylight filters

UV filters are just an extra layer of glass that blocks UV light. Since UV is non-visible light, there’s no tint on UV filters. Skylight filters are the same as UV filters, except they have an orange/magenta tint to them.

CR2 File(What it is and how to open in Photoshop)

CR2 files are RAW images shot with Canon digital cameras. CR2 stands for Canon Raw Version 2. Since CR2 files are similar to TIFF image files, you can expect them to be very high in quality and big in size.

CR2 RAW files should not be confused with another kind of CR2 file which is created by a 3D modeling program called Poser. Poser CR2 files are used in 3D modeling for storing data about joints, bones, and how they move. These would commonly be used when modeling human forms.

Opening CR2 files

To open CR2 files, you have a few paid and free options.

Some Windows versions are able to preview CR2 files in the folders themselves, but you’ll need to have the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack or Canon RAW Codec Software installed.

Other free programs you can use to open CR2 files are IrfanView and UFRaw.

For a more professional application and a wider variety of options, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom are ideal. To be able to open CR2 files in Adobe software, you’ll need to have the Camera RAW update installed, which you can find here.

CR2 file vs JPEG

CR2 files are RAW images. As the name suggests, RAW images store a lot more data in the picture than a typical JPEG your camera would capture.

While JPEG files capture a single exposure, RAW files actually hold the entire range of exposures in the file itself, which allows for a lot more post-processing.

If you did not get the exposure right in the shot, or you want to bring out some highlights and shadows, you can do so with a RAW file and the end result will seem like it was taken directly from the camera, not edited.

However, since there is so much data in CR2 files, the size can get quite big, and when you deliver or store photos, you’ll want to use JPEG. As such, it may take a long time to edit and export hundreds of CR2 files into JPEG.

That’s why most cameras that shoot RAW images actually shoot RAW and JPEG at the same time, so you have JPEGs ready for shots you are happy with, and RAW CR2 files available for anything you want to edit.

Converting CR2 files to JPEG

To convert CR2 files to JPEG, your best bet is to use Adobe’s free DNG Converter. DNG files are still RAW files but they’re more universal and you can easily open them in a lot more programs.

Related

You can also use Canon’s Digital Photo Professional, which comes bundled with most Canon EOS dSLR cameras. DPP is a very powerful image organization and editing suite much like Lightroom, but optimized for use for Canon cameras.

Once you’re done with editing your CR2 files in DPP(adjusting exposure, HDR, RGB/Tone Curves, Noise, to name a few), you can batch export them as JPEG files for easy sharing.

With Photoshop or Lightroom, you can export CR2 files as JPG, PNG, GIF, and other common image formats.

There are also online tools like this one but since CR2 files are so large, it may be impractical to upload and convert so many files. Online tools are OK for converting a handful of files, but you’ll run into trouble once your files get into the hundreds.

Please note that when you simply convert the CR2 file without editing it, the JPEG saved will look exactly like the preview. If you want to edit the photo in any way, you must edit and export individually.

Pixieset Review and How To Use It(Great solution for business)

Pixieset is an online photograph gallery platform that really shines as a way for professionals to show and deliver their photographs to clients.

With the advent of digital cameras one way of delivering photographs was via a USB drive. Indeed, a USB drive can be useful when there are a lot of photos to give, but even then, delivering photos through an online gallery that provides a good browsing experience and lets clients order whichever prints they need is much better.

Additionally, you can also show proofs and samples, and let your clients share whichever photos they want to share directly from the platform.

Essentially, a service like Pixieset ticks all the boxes for what people are looking for in digital photographs:

  • a way to browse through all of them very easily
  • a way to categorize them easily
  • a way to share them easily
  • a way to order prints for any photographs they want

Granted, Pixieset is not the only such service out there: there are plenty of other services, and in future posts, we may do some comparisons.

How to use Pixieset

Essentially, Pixieset is a way to upload your photos to a service that lets your client download and review them. They can also buy any photos they need.

It’s actually quite robust and gives you a lot of control on which features you want to enable or disable for your clients, which we’ll talk about later in the review.

As a photographer, one of the biggest pains and challenges(especially in the age of digital photographs where there’s no limit to how many you can take) is how to present them in a nice and professional way for your clients. Pixieset helps you do that.

Pixieset features: Collections or galleries

The essential feature in Pixieset is the Collections feature, or gallery feature. This is basically a showcase of thumbnails for all of your client’s photographs and in the gallery, your client can peruse them, download them, share them, and order prints(provided you enable these permissions for them).

A smooth gallery experience is what makes or breaks a service like this, and granted, most online photo galleries do a pretty good job of handling this part.

Upon setting up your account, there will be a few things you’ll need to do to get started. Ideally, you’ll want to upload a logo and set up a watermark and brand imaging, and you have quite a lot of customization options here. You can upload your company logo, a special cover photo for the gallery in question, and of course your watermark.

Watermarking is an important feature as you can use it to show pictures without really delivering the final product in case the client has not paid in full yet.

Once you have your account ready to go, you will want to drop into the Settings section really click to upload your logo and other brand imaging if you’d like (as seen in the image below). These items will be presented in different areas of the online gallery, and watermarks will be added when specified to image uploads (often for the purpose of providing proofs).

You can create as many collections as your plan permits, and the plans vary from free to different tiers of storage.

Note: Storage costs can add up, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep every photo online forever. For this reason, it is prudent to the master storage on external hard drives, and utilize Pixieset for delivery.

Within galleries, you can break them down into sets. So if you were shooting one event that had many sub-events within it, you could have a gallery for the entire event and sub-sections for each smaller event within it.

This is super useful for weddings!

Now that you have your gallery set up, you can start uploading photos. Uploading is always going to take some time, especially if you have a lot of photos, because you’re limited by both your internet speed and the speed of Pixieset’s servers.

However, it’s not slow or anything, the speeds are quite up to par with what you’d find anywhere else.

Customizing your galleries

Pixieset offers you quite a bit of customization for your galleries. Parameters you can adjust are:

  • Name of the collection
  • Date of the even
  • Customized URL
  • Adding tags to group similar photographs/galleries

Within galleries, 3 features really stand out and make Pixieset shine amongst its competitors:

  1. Auto expiry
  2. Email registration
  3. Gallery assist

Auto expiry

Auto expiry is a really neat feature where you can set a time limit for how long the gallery would stay online before being taken down. This is quite crucial because storage is not unlimited!

The purpose of using a gallery suite like Pixieset is mainly for showing the clients the photographs immediately after the event. In this time, they can do what they want with the photographs. If there were just a few photos, it’s very easy for your client to download them wherever they want.

If there are many photos, you’d probably want to supply a hard drive or a usb drive with all the photos.

There’s no maximum on the auto expiry – you can keep the photos live for as little or as long a time as you like.

Please note though that once the gallery expires, you have no way of getting it back! So make sure you have backups!

Registration

Registration is a really cool feature built into Pixieset. Here, you can set up an opt-in that visitors must go through in order to view the gallery.

Using this, you can collect emails and see who is viewing which gallery. This data can then be used to build your mailing list and increase your prospective customers.

Please be aware that the best way to go about this is through an email service provider like GetResponse or Mailchimp and using a double opt-in to confirm people do want to sign up for your emails.

Gallery Assist

The last bonus feature is Gallery Assist, which basically starts a tutorial for any new visitor to your gallery. It walks them through the features available such as downloading, buying prints, and sharing.

As a business, you can potentially capitalize on some nice upselling here by encouraging your clients and visitors to buy prints(or at least showing them that they can easily do so here).

Setting up privacy with Pixieset

Privacy is hugely important, especially with photographs. Some photographs can also be boudoir in nature, so those are especially important to be kept private and out of the hands of malicious actors.

Pixieset makes it quite easy and straightforward to set up privacy barriers.

First off, you can set up a password and only those with the password can access a particular gallery.

For a further security step, you can make it so that only your clients or people you specify can access the gallery, and nobody else. Even within this access, your clients can further mark photos to be private and only visible to them and nobody else(but you of course).

Downloading and sharing photos

Even the ability to download and share is in your control. You may wish to disable downloading if you are just showing proofs to your client before finalizing the deal or selecting the photos.

You can enable downloads for your client and they’ll be able to download their photos in three sizes:

  • Full resolution
  • High resolution
  • Web

As an extra security step, you can enable a pin that must be entered before any photos can be downloaded. With email tracking, you can get a notification every time a photo has been downloaded so you can know which of the photos were saved.

While your customer is browsing through their photos, they can also share through social media(Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are all supported) as well as directly through email.

Favoriting photos

Within the online gallery you create for your clients, they can favorite particular photos and even create lists of favorite images. This is a neat way for them to start organizing their photos in their own way.

Favoriting also saves you quite a bit of work, since you can just loosely categorize all the images and your client can filter them further at their own convenience. You can also create your own favorite list to showcase some specific images you want to show your client.

You also have control over how many images your client can put in a favorite list. So if you were assembling an album for them and you have limited space per section, you can make use of this feature.

Buying prints

Pixieset has done a super job of integrating a storefront into their gallery system. The option to buy is not in your face at all, so clients won’t feel obligated to buy – but the service is available and it’s a neat way for your client to get high quality prints very easily, and for you to earn some extra cash on selling prints.

Ordering prints can be quite a hassle, especially if you have to download the images, select them, take them to a shop, and get them printed. Pixieset streamlines everything in one neat flow.

You get to set the prices for print sizes and product options. Additionally, you can choose how the order will be fulfilled. This article on Pixieset explains this in great detail, but here is the gist of it:

  • The business can choose to self fulfill orders, or to have a lab fulfill them
  • If you self-fulfill, you’ll set your own prices and you’ll have to calculate how much your cost is vs how much you want to charge
  • If you choose lab fulfillment, you can see a price sheet with the costs of lab fulfillment, and you can set your prices accordingly. This way you can see how much you stand to make per print(of course, your prices have to be reasonable and competitive, and this is something you as a business owner would know best)

It’s very easy for clients to choose photos and print sizes, and a simple online checkout will get them on their way.

One added benefit of encouraging clients to print through Pixieset is that you have a degree of quality control over the prints. A low quality lab can easily ruin a great photo!

Mobile app

Here’s something interesting: the Pixieset app is not a mobile version of the full service. Instead, the app is a streamlined gallery, designed to help you easily showcase your photos on the go.

You can actually customize the app for client galleries and the app will be entirely offline, so if they want to download it to their phone or tablet and have the photos available for viewing anytime, they can do so.

Final thoughts

As a professional photographer, one of your main concerns is having a good way to deliver your product to your customers and clients. Pixieset makes it quite easy to do and ticks all the boxes of showing photos online, having the ability to categorize photos, and being able to order prints online.

This was a general overview of Pixieset and if you liked what you saw, we highly recommend giving it a spin – sign up for the free account and start playing with the features, and if you like it, you can go ahead and sign up.

3/4 View portraits and photographs: What does it mean?

One term that gets thrown around really often in photography and art is “3/4”. You can find it either as “3/4 view”, “3/4 photo”, or “3/4 portrait”. Perhaps there are other variations as well. So what exactly is 3/4? There are actually 2 distinct meanings, which we’ll check out in this post.

Sometimes it is used to refer to the angle, and sometimes, it is used to refer to the framing of the photograph.

3/4 portrait: definition #1

Just using the term 3/4 is not going to be sufficient, but if you use a modifier word after the fraction, you’ll be able to understand what the meaning is.

If you see 3/4 portrait, it commonly refers to a shot where the model is framed from the top of their head down to about their knees.

In this kind of photograph, 3/4 of the model is visible in the frame, hence the name. A 3/4 portrait has nothing to do with the angle the model is at, just how much of the model is visible.

While this is most common for human and animal subjects, you could theoretically apply this principle to inanimate objects as well.

Notice how around 3/4 of the model is visible, and the head is turned away so around 3/4 of it is visible

3/4 view: definition #2

If you see the term 3/4 view, then it usually refers to the kind of angle the model is facing you at. This kind of shot is called a 3/4 view because the only visible portion of the model’s face is 3/4ths of it.

To set up this pose, the model has their head turned slightly away from the camera in a way that the ear opposite the camera is just out of shot.

Even though it’s called a 3/4 view, it won’t always be 3/4 since everyone’s face size and shape is a little different.

A similar shot to a 3/4 view is a 2/3 view, where the model’s head is turned even further away, enough that the opposite eye appears very near the edge of the face.

You can use 3/4 view to take a photograph of the entire body of your model, or you can use a 3/4 view portrait to just take a photo with their face and/or neck in the frame.

This is a great example of a 3/4 photo. One may even argue that the face is turned away enough to make it a 2/3 photo. It is quite subjective!

Of course, one small difference between a full body 3/4 view shot and a portrait is that for a full body shot, the models entire body will be turned, whereas in a 3/4 portrait, it may just be their face that’s turned away, but you can’t see the rest of the body in the shot!

American cowboy shot

Another variation of the 3/4 shot which combines the 3/4 portrait and the 3/4 view is combined, in a shot commonly called the American cowboy shot.

In this, the head of the model is turned around 45 degrees from the camera, and 3/4ths of the model’s body is visible in the shot.

This shot became popular in classic Westerns where the face of the actor would be visible as well as the gun on their hip.

Related

Photographing other objects with 3/4 view

People are not the only things you can photograph with a 3/4 view. Many photos of locomotives, cars, airplanes, and other vehicles are commonly shot in a 3/4 view so that the front and the side can be visibly.

3/4 photographs of cars can be used to accentuate certain features

For a bit more detail, the shot may be taken from a height to show parts of the top of the subject as well. This theme is very common in product photographs as well.

This product photograph is shot using a 3/4 angle

Fans of trains and locomotives will probably find this kind of shot very popular in their circles, as they feel this kind of shot is the ideal way to capture a photo of a train!

Setting up the shot

Now that you know what a 3/4 photograph is, how do you set it up? There are basically two ways to do it:

  1. If you’re photographing a model, you can have them angle their face away from you at the desired degree
  2. If you’re photographing in the field, you’ll have to set yourself up at an angle from your subject

You need to make sure the light is coming from the proper angle, too. Since only part of the model will be visible to you, make sure the light is coming in a way the desired parts of the model are illuminated.

The lighting problem can be overcome by using a flash.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of camera you are using: you can shoot great 3/4 photos on a dSLR or you can choose to shoot a picture on your camera phone – in 3/4 photos, it’s all about the composition and lighting.

Difference between SLR and dSLR cameras: Know your gear!

Let’s talk about gear: a common term used for describing cameras is SLR and sometimes dSLR. So what’s the difference between the two? And if you’re looking to buy, which one should you get?

What are (d)SLR cameras

So the first thing to talk about would be SLR cameras in general. dSLR cameras are actually a subset within SLR cameras, so once you understand what an SLR camera is, it will be quite simple to discuss dSLR cameras.

SLR is short for Single Lens Reflector.

This indicates the way light enters the camera, how the image is captured, and what you see in the cameras viewfinder or eyepiece.

In regular point and shoot cameras, the viewfinder sits above the lens, so there’s a tiny difference of a few centimeters between the center of the lens and the center of the viewfinder.

Manufacturers have to do this because compact cameras usually don’t have enough room to route the light from the lens to the viewfinder directly.

In SLR cameras, the light entering the lens is reflected using a mirror up to the viewfinder through a prism, so what you see through the viewfinder is what the lens is actually seeing.

The prism is important because the image hitting the mirror is actually upside down, and the prism makes it right-side-up again.

Note: Interestingly enough, the image that lands on your retina is also upside down. This is because the lens refracts the light and turns it upside down. Your brain automatically compensates for this and makes it right side up.

When you click the shutter button, the mirror springs up, letting light onto the film or image sensor, and springs back down to shut it again.

That’s why you see the viewfinder closing and opening when you take a photo.

Finally, SLR cameras have switchable lenses, which is arguably the biggest advantage they have over other cameras.

Related

SLR cameras vs dSLR cameras

Now that you know what an SLR camera is, let’s talk about dSLR cameras and how they’re different from SLR cameras.

Essentially, dSLR cameras work in the exact same was as SLR cameras. Light enters through the lens, and a mirror reflects the light up through a prism into the viewfinder.

When you click the shutter button on an SLR camera, the mirror springs up and light falls on a roll of film, commonly 35 mm film.

When you click the shutter button on a dSLR camera, the mirror springs up and light falls onto a digital sensor which captures the image.

The major difference, as you can see, is that SLR cameras use film, and dSLR cameras use a digital sensor.

Because a digital sensor is involved, dSLR cameras can actually do a lot more with the image than a regular SLR camera.

Pros and cons of SLRs and dSLRs

Even though the basic mechanism is the same, since dSLRs are digital and SLRs use film, there’s a lot of differences.

Film and memory cards

The first and possibly most important distinction to make between the two is the fact that SLRs use film and dSLRs are digital.

Film cameras used to be the standard even after digital cameras first came about, because at the time, digital sensors were not quite advanced and could not capture as much detail as a film camera could.

Nowadays, digital sensors are very advanced and can capture huge images with incredible amounts of detail.

In today’s world, it’s difficult to find film anywhere, and it’s also difficult to find places that still develop film!

Aside from that, the obvious advantage of digital photographs is that you can store thousands on a memory card, whereas you can only take 30-40 photos per roll of film, so the cost of film and the cost of developing really adds up.

You can also view photos right away on a digital camera. With film, you have no idea how the photograph turned out until you develop it, and if you took a bad shot, that much film was basically wasted.

RAW photos

Another difference between SLRs and dSLRs is the ability of dSLR cameras to take RAW photos. RAW photos are photos where the whole range of exposure is captured in the photo, so you can post-process the photo to adjust exposure and bring out highlights and shadows.

Of course, this is only possible with the digital sensor.

Using film, you can only get what you captured, nothing else.

Shooting modes

Since the digital sensor is picking up the image live, you can actually utilize a variety of shooting modes and the camera can actually help you take better pictures.

Aperture priority

In aperture priority mode, you can control the aperture of the shot and the camera will automatically compensate the shutterspeed to get a good shot. Of course, the result will not always be perfect, but you can at least get a good range of shutter speeds to work with automatically.

Shutter priority

In Shutter priority mode, you can control the shutter speed and the camera will compensate with the aperture. Sometimes you’ll end up with a darker photo if you set the shutter speed too high for the lighting conditions and the camera just doesn’t have enough aperture to keep up.

Video

Finally, digital SLR cameras actually can record really respectable video! Many vloggers and YouTubers actually like to use dSLR cameras for shooting video, often with a microphone attached to the hotshoe bay.

Power consumption

Power consumption is one avenue where SLRs actually do better than dSLRs. Because there is so much going on in a digital SLR, they will consume a lot of power and drain the battery fairly quickly.

Regular film SLRs won’t consume nearly as much power and one set of batteries can actually last quite a long time.

Heck, some film SLRs can work without batteries too, but you’ll have to adjust everything(including focus) manually.

Sensitivity

Finally, let’s talk about sensitivity.

ISO

Sensitivity is measured by ISO, which is a measure of film speed, or how fast it can capture light. In films, higher ISOs were used for nighttime photography as they could capture light better.

With digital sensors such as in dSLRs, ISO was adapted into a feature that you could adjust up and down. In a film camera, you’d have to finish one roll of film of a given ISO before being able to change it.

With digital cameras, you can adjust the ISO up and down for every single shot. Plus, film ISOs only reached a certain sensitivity. Digital sensors are now capable of sensitivities hundreds of times greater.

Cost

dSLR cameras are now really inexpensive and entry level cameras can be found without breaking the bank at all. The beauty of these cameras is that you can just upgrade your lens when you want to up your game.

Film SLR cameras are not too common nowadays and if you factor in the cost of film and developing, it works out to be a lot more expensive!

Conclusion

As you can see, SLR and dSLR cameras are quite similar in their basic workings but as soon as you get past the mirror and reach the film or sensor is where the differences start to come out.

Today, dSLRs are the standard and film SLRs are just used by hobbyists and for highly specialized applications and situations.

More information:

Small aperture: what does it mean and when do you use it?

a chart of aperture values

When people say “small aperture”, there is often some confusion as to what it means. In this post, we’ll talk about small aperture, large apertures, and how they affect your photographs.

What is meant by small aperture?

A small aperture is a large f-stop number. The f-stop is a way of measuring what the aperture of the lens is at. The higher the f-stop, the lower the aperture – meaning less light will be let into the camera.

Small aperture vs big aperture

On the other hand, a small f-stop number means a large aperture. The smaller the f-stop number is, the larger the opening in the lens will be and more light will be let into the camera.

How to read f-stops

f-stops are indicated by the letter f and a number, like f/8 or f-8. Here’s the part that confuses most beginning photographers:

F stops go in the opposite direction of aperture!

To recap:

Higher f-stops means smaller aperture

Lower f-stops means bigger aperture

An f-stop of say f/16 will mean the opening in the lens is very small, allowing very little light through. An f-stop of f/2.8 on the other hand will mean the opening in the lens is quite large, and will allow a lot of light through.

You can use the f-stop to control the exposure in your photographs. Higher f-stops are good for photos in bright sunlight, and low f-stops are good for night photography or in situations where there is little light.

Common aperture and f-stop values

F-stops are standardized, which means that for the most part, the aperture on a particular f-stop on one lens will be the same as the same value f-stop on another lens.

When you are shopping for lenses, you’ll be able to see the maximum and minimum aperture the lens is capable of. This will help you decide on which lens to get.

For most everyday photography, a stock lens that can do f/2.8 up to f/16 will be fine.

For more specialized applications, you will need to get specific lenses that can manage apertures of up to f/1.4 or f/22 and f/32.

f/8 is about halfway(it doesn’t make sense, but that’s how it is) between extremely low and extremely high values.

a chart of aperture values

Combining aperture and shutter speed

Aperture needs to be used in conjunction with shutter speed, otherwise your photos will not come out correctly. At smaller apertures, where the lens is wide open, you need to use a faster shutter speed. Otherwise, you risk letting too much light into the photograph and over-exposing it.

At larger apertures, where the lens is stopped down(smaller), you will need to use a slower shutter speed. Otherwise, not enough light will enter the lens and your photos will come out darker.

In most digital cameras and dSLRs, you will find a function that will let you adjust the aperture and compensate the shutter speed automatically.

When you are starting out, this is a good setting to use. You can make a note of what shutter speed the camera used for your desired aperture, and if you’re not happy with the result, pop over to manual mode, set the aperture you need, and adjust the shutter speed based on what you noted in the first shot.

Aperture and depth of field

Aside from controlling exposure, aperture is also very useful for varying the depth of field of your photographs. Put simply, depth of field means how much of your photo is sharp and how much is blurred.

By adjusting the aperture, you can either blur the background and part of the foreground, or you can make the entire photograph relatively sharp.

This is especially evident in landscape photographs and portraits/macro photographs.

Related

Depth of field in portrait photographs

In a portrait or macro photo, you want to keep the subject as sharp as possible and blur out the background. Or for an artistic effect, you may wish to blur the subject slightly as well.

For these effects, you want to use a low or small aperture, which means more light will enter. Small apertures will blur the background and make the subject look more enhanced.

Remember that you will need to compensate for the greater exposure using a faster shutter speed.

This is an example of a photo with small aperture. The increased size of the lens allows more light in and blurs the background. If you notice, there is a little bit of blurryness on the edges of the subject, too.

Depth of field in landscape photographs

An example of using high aperture is a photograph of a landscape or a cityscape.

In these photos, you want the entire photograph to have even sharpness. A high aperture(less light coming in) will let you get this effect.

The degree of blurring in the background(less or more) is known as bokeh. Once you start incorporating bokeh into your camera work, you’ll notice a huge improvement in the quality of your photographs.

Remember that you will need to compensate for the lesser exposure using a slower shutter speed. In many cases, landscape photos are best taken from a tripod since your hands may not be able to keep the camera stable enough to avoid shakes.

This is an example of a photograph taken with a high aperture, or less light coming in. Notice how the sharpness is evenly distributed across the entire photograph.

How to set aperture in your camera

In a dSLR camera, you’ll typically find a dial with various letters on it. To control the aperture, you have two choices. Either set the dial to A or Av, which will let you control the aperture (typically by using the scroll wheel).

In Aperture priority mode, the camera will adjust shutter speed automatically to try and get you the best photographs.

If you want full control over your photographs, you can set the dial to M, which is manual mode. In this mode, you will need to adjust everything manually: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.

Related

Difference between SLR and dSLR cameras

Rangefinder vs SLR cameras

Conclusion

I hope this cleared up the confusion about small and large apertures. Remember, in apertures, small numbers mean more light, and bigger numbers mean less light!