I am completely a self-taught Photographer. Everything I have learned ( and still learning) has been through trial, many errors, YouTube tutorials and trying to emulate photography from my peers. I literally cringe when I think about my early posts, but cha, it is good to look back to see how far I have come.  I feel the best way to improve in anything is to continue to ask questions, research and practice, practice, practice. With a renewed vigour thanks to an upgrade and  investment in my Canon 80d, I have decided to help in any way that I can, by creating a series of visual posts. Which will highlight key photography aspects, that will hopefully help you understand your camera better, and improve on your imagery.  Where better to start than with the F stop.

depth of field

The F stop technical bit

“scale used to express the lens setting (or aperture) i.e. f2.8, f11 etc. The higher the number the less light is allowed through the lens, the lower the number, a higher amount of light is allowed to pass through the lens. Aperture is also related to depth of field.

Jessops Glossary


I think the important place to start when breaking down all the technical elements is deciding what it is you will actually be shooting. Once you know the setup, and how you need the final image to look, then you can decide how to decipher and apply the camera settings. Aperture ( f stop) is important as it doesn’t just control how much light comes in to the camera for the right exposure, but also how much of the image is actually in focus ( depth of field).

  • Portrait
  • Flatlay
  • Food
  • Landscape
  • Product

aperture diagram

For a sharp focus on a subject in low light settings, with a blurred background  is why an f-stop of 2.8/f1.8/f1.4 is preferred.  The lower f stops can be great for portraits, and look hot in those cook book shots, but the low aperture is absolute rubbish for flatlays. Sometimes it really isn’t necessary for the fleck of an iris to be pin sharp but the eyelashes, eyes, face to be out of focus ( unless that is what you intended of course).

For the longest time I wanted everything in the foreground and background to be in focus, but had the setting on f1.8. I just assumed that 1.8 meant sharp, so I used it regardless of the light. I was making my life very hard. If products were not side by side even by an inch, then it would be out of focus.  I just thought oh I need a wide-angle lens then it will be alright. There is nothing more frustrating than having the shot look perfect on the back viewfinder then looking at it blurred as f*ck uploaded in Photoshop. Since then, I have pumped up that aperture now shooting at least f 7, ( with a tripod) my flatlays are now all in focus the way I need them to be.  Below is a visual aid of depth of field in correlation to the f-stop ( focal length).




Please take into account that the higher the f-stop count the darker the image became. I adjusted the shutter speed ( full post to come), and then later adjusted the light in Photoshop to make all the images more uniform to really focus on, and show you how images looked the further you moved away from f1.8.

I hope I made depth of field and aperture just that little bit clearer