f/11 – What in the world is that? If you would have asked me a few years ago, I would have looked at you with a weird, crooked face – or just smiled, since that is the universal language that means ‘uh-huh’.
Well, to get back on track that funky looking f/# is a big deal to photographers. Technically it tells us how wide or narrow the shutter opens when you take photograph. The larger the number, f/16 for instance, the smaller the opening in the shutter making a much clearer, focused imaged through the depth of field. The depth of the field is the distance of the photo that will be in focus. The smaller the number f/1.4 for instance, the larger the shutter opens shrinking down the depth of field in focus in the image. The small apertures are the ones that create those lovely images that have blurred backgrounds with the subject sharp tack. That blurry goodness is bokeh.
So, to show you examples of what the differences are, I have taken a series of photos. This is the new and lovely gerber daisy in my teeny tiny garden.
This first image is taken a f/11 – the theme for this months blog. Notice the background as we go through the other images. The one to the right is taken at f/8.
The image here on the left is taken at f/5.6 and the one to the right at f/4.0. The background is losing focus, yet the focus is still being maintained on the red flower. If the focus were to be moved to another subject, one of the yellow flowers for instance, the blurriness would start to be seen in the objects in front of the one of which the main focus is on as well.
The image here on the left is at f/2.8 and the on the right f/2.0. The bokeh effect that can be captured in a lens that will open to an f/2.8 is one that is a pretty commonly sought amongst many photographers. Of course, depending upon the subject, lower apertures can be sought, but keeping the focus on moving subjects such as small, playful children becomes more difficult and detail in facial features begins to get lost.
And finally – what photogs like to refer to as ‘wide-open’ f/1.4. Everything in the photograph, except that of which the focus is maintained, is blurry. The flower was a very simple example to show the depth given with the different apertures, but keep in mind if the object were larger and had more depth, then the focus would look completely different. Image a face where the nose is in focus and the rest of the face is blurry, not so much of what one is looking for in a photo. While the bokeh is great and adds wonderful depth to images, it is always important to make sure that the entire subject you are photographing maintains focus for the clarity of the image.
I hope these images help you to understand what the f/11 means. Why did we choose f/11? Well, it’s kind of the ‘in-between’ when it comes to aperture. Not as crisp as it could be, but not the bokeh as you see in the above image.
So to celebrate f/11, my family and I went out to our towns Centennial celebration. Prosper is pretty great and we are proud to be here.
Well, there you have it. A “jessicafied” aperture 101 lesson. I hope you gained some knowledge, if you are interested about this aspect of photography. However, if you didn’t, I take no credit, remember, I teach 4th graders, not photography!
Now please head on over to Lindsay’s page of Lindsay Crandall Photography, Rochester, NY. She has an amazing take on this theme. I mean she should, it was her idea!