Beginner Cat Photo Skills, Let's Talk About

Let’s Talk About Aperture

After my quick run down on what ISO is and how it can help your cat photos, I wanted to add a super quick explanation on what Aperture is. When you eventually try manual, you will find ISO and Aperture confidence will give you so much more confidence photographing cats and other pets. Let’s take a look….

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

A Definition of Aperture

You will find a lot of descriptions, explanations and ‘technical’ breakdowns that tell you what Aperture in your camera is but, if they intimidate you, try this simple idea instead.

Graphic of text and a fluffy tuxedo walking toward the camera

Aperture Numbers

Aperture is written as f/ followed by a number (f/2.8, f/8, etc.) easy enough but you have to remember that a lower f-number means a larger aperture (more light).

If the whole idea seems confusing, don’t give up. Keep taking photographs, look at what the effect of each aperture setting is later when you download and edit your cat photos.

Large Aperture (Small f-number like f2.8)

If you open your eye really wide you are doing what a camera does when it uses a large aperture. This camera setting lets in a lot of light. It’s great for low-light situations like a room the sun doesn’t reach very often or night time photography.

My favourite technique the soft focus bokeh behind cats like Toulouse here. I am using a large aperture and blurring the background. It makes your your cat stand out by blurring the background (shallow depth of field).

Small Aperture (Large f-number like f16)

Like a squinting eye, a small aperture lets in less light. This is helpful for bright locations and helps your cat photos from being over exposed (too bright). It’s benefits include a sharp photo from front to back. An example of this would be a landscape you take on holiday or out for a hike.

A black cat sat on a pine fence looking to the viewer's right
‘Taz’ Small Aperture – ISO 200 f/4

Beginner’s Best Aperture Tip

Many cameras have an “Aperture Priority” mode (often labeled A or Av). This semi-automatic mode lets you choose the aperture, and the camera automatically adjusts the shutter speed for a good exposure. It’s a great way to experiment with aperture while the camera handles the technical stuff!

  • Download your photographs and see what aperture looks like for a particular light if you use A/Av mode. It’s a really good way to get aperture confidence. You see what works and what doesn’t.

Finally, don’t be afraid to use one of your camera’s modes like Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority to help you learn. Some people swear by manual settings, others (like me) take prize winning photos using camera modes as well. Each photographer, like their images, is unique.

Go be unique and explore in your own way!

15 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Aperture”

  1. As always your posts are always good learning pointers for photographers and I wish I could remember all when trying to take photos of Madam. You amaze me with your fantastic photos each time as they are just beautiful and it is time I really start trying more. Have a great week

    • We are all beginners in some things. Absorb the information in bite sized nibbles and you will soon learn.

  2. I love that quote! Perfect. Such helpful and wonderful information on aperture. You definitely give great helpful explanations that doesn’t spin one’s head! And I’m a photographer! Always love your posts! Sharing this on my Shutterbuggin’ Pinterest board to help others who need/want photography tips!

  3. Excellent idea on aperture and how to use it properly! This makes perfect sense to think of your own eye. I love it when you break things down so simply and make it super easy to understand and implement. I’m going to play with the aperture on my phone and iPad and see how that helps improve my photos of Henry. Thank you for another great article, Marjorie!

  4. Your explanation was very clear, as I was reading I thought – like a cat’s eye! I only have an older iPhone as my camera so I can’t change what I get but it was interesting.

  5. I’ve been quite interested in photography, but I find a lot of information very technical and not suited to the beginner. I really liked your explanation of aperture, the example was very easy to understand. I’m going to read some of your other related posts to help me on my picture taking journey!

  6. Thanks for that great explanation….I don’t think I can change that on either of my cameras….if its there I have never touched it, LOL! I am a chicken!

    • A lot of people don’t understand the technical side but I don’t think we need to go super deep to learn the basics.

  7. That really was a terrific explanation and we understood it all (scary thought!). Thanks for joining Angel Brian’s Thankful Thursday Blog Hop!

    • Thank you. As a beginner I was very intimdated by technical explantions so I tried to make it as clear as I could.


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