I had a huge headache in college that lasted 4 years. Why? Because I had to learn all these technical things by reading about them, and looking at boring diagrams all day. You’d think in a Photography classroom we’d look at pretty pictures all day. BUT NOOOOO, they had to make it like a real classroom, with books that had lots of words in them.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to read. Just not textbooks. Textbooks take all the fun out of learning.
Like I said before in previous posts, I’m a very visual learner.
I’m going to explain this in the simplest way I can – I write like a 5th grader as it is, so hopefully this is easy.
F-Stops – These are the numbers around your lens (4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, etc.) that indicate the amount of light entering your camera. The SMALLER the number, the BIGGER the opening. The BIGGER the number, the SMALLER the opening. Confused yet? There is a huge explanation about why it’s the way it is, but let’s just skip all that and say that’s the way that is.
The F-numbers might be different on the digital display if you have a DSLR. That’s ok, the rule still applies.
Aperture – This is just the name of the opening where the light comes in.
How it pertains to F-Stops:
A lower F-Stop uses a wider (larger, bigger) aperture.
A higher F-stop uses a smaller (narrower) aperture.
Depth of Field – self-explanatory, I would assume. It means how deep the sharpness of the image gets.
How it pertains to apertures:
Large aperture = shallow depth of field
Small aperture = large depth of field
Dumplings with 2 different settings:
Left photo: f /25 – sharper background (larger depth of field)
Right photo: f /5.6 – blurred background (shallow depth of field)
Flowers with 2 different settings:
Left Photo: f/4.2 – Background is blurred, pink flower in background is blurred a bit
Right Photo: f/16 – Background is sharper, green plant in background is sharper in comparison to the f/4.2 image
I wouldn’t recommend using a larger F-stop (say, anything over F/8) unless you have a tripod, or steady surface to set your camera on. This is because a larger F-stop number needs a longer exposure time. But try it out and see what you like for yourself.
In most of my food shots I prefer a shallow depth of field, because it’s more interesting to focus in on one aspect of the photo, say, one dumpling out of the many. It leads the viewer’s eye to focus in on one object and understand what you want them to really see.
Plus, you don’t need no stinkin’ tripod for a shallow depth of field!
Especially if you want your food to remain warm and edible after you photograph it.
Here are some wikipedia links for more technical mumbo jumbo about F-stops, apertures and depth of field.
Read it if you’re really, really bored or need to fall asleep fast.