Aperture Settings for Dog Photography - dummies

Aperture Settings for Dog Photography

By Kim Rodgers, Sarah Sypniewski

The aperture setting is something you need to consider when taking photographs of dogs, or any other subject. Simply put, your aperture (or f-stop) setting dictates exactly how much light passes through the camera lens. The aperture setting can be a confusing topic because your aperture’s physical size (the hole that light passes through) corresponds to a number that seems to have been created on “opposite day.”

The larger the aperture opening, the smaller the f-stop. If you set your f-stop to a low number, your aperture opens widely. If you set your f-stop to a high number, your aperture opens only slightly.


When aperture settings are referred to as “large” and “small,” the actual physical size of the opening is being described, not the f-stop number that represents it. For example, you can think of your “large” f/1.8 aperture as the size of a quarter and your “small” f/22 aperture as less than the size of a dime.

Not only does the aperture setting tell the camera how much light to let in; it also dictates the amount of depth of field present in your image (that is, how much of your foreground and background appear sharp).

Manipulating your depth of field is a fantastic way to choose exactly what you want (or don’t want) to draw the viewer’s eyes to. Aperture settings vary from camera to camera — some use quarter stop increments while others use half- or third-stop increments — but a full range of aperture settings in whole-stop increments looks like this: 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, and 22.

Focal length, as well as ISO and shutter speed, also affects the depth of field in your final photo. Focal length is the distance (measured in millimeters) between the center of the camera’s middle lens and the point at which everything is in focus.

It essentially represents how much magnification a lens gives an image. If you look at your own lens, you’ll see a range indicating how much your lens can magnify an image.

At any given f-stop, the longer your focal length is, the less depth of field you have. This means that an image taken at a focal length of 100mm and at an aperture setting of f/8 appears to have much more bokeh (a blurred background) than the same image taken at 24mm.

Noticing a pattern? Most elements of photography are dependent on, and affected by, other elements, which is exactly why photography is such an artistic expression. Two people who photograph the exact same thing can theoretically end up with extremely different photos, depending on the individual settings and factors (like focal length) they choose.