How Changing Aperture affects Depth of Field

Although I have many titles I am of course, a mommy first and foremost. The addition of my baby daughter in late April has mean’t that I have to be very creative in trying to make time to work, blog not to mention spending some fun time with my other little girl Sophie. So last Saturday I decided to roll these three things into one. We made these delish cupcakes and Sophie decorated them. She was very proud of her work, as you can see, spending 15 minutes decorating and 2 minutes devouring them!


Meanwhile I seized the opportunity to put together this mini tutorial for you on How Changing Aperture affects Depth of Field.

A lot of my students bemoan the fact that there is too much math involved in photography. And they are right – there is a lot of math!
If you get down to it, it’s all about math and physics but where would the fun be in learning about that? What about the creativity of manipulating light and dark? Evoking emotion in your viewer. Perfecting your art?

So let’s get visual and forget about the math for a minute.ย  What I want to demonstrate here is how I can alter the Depth of Field by Changing Aperture settings on my camera.

Depth of field refers to the zone of acceptable sharpness in a photo.

I took the following pictures of Sophie’s cute cupcakes in succession, everything(ISO and Shutter Speed) else been held constant, just changing the aperture of each shot.

Depth of Field


You can see how increasing your f number (aperture) REDUCES the size of the opening in the lensย  and hence increases the depth of field – the amount of the “in focus portion” of the picture.

Your Turn!

Try this at home by lining up several similar objects – wine bottles, tomatoes, flowers, crayons – whatever you have easy access to.

  • In order to make this as easy as possible for you make sure your in a well lit place
  • Set your camera to Aperture Priority mode- Usually either A or Av on your Mode Dial.
  • Keep your focus point set to the same point each time. In the above pictures I kept focused on the orange cupcake.
  • Turn the mode dial wheel of your camera to adjust the aperture values.
  • Take a shot at every aperture value or f/stop that your lens will allow.
  • Pay attention to what happens to the shutter speed values as you change your aperture.
  • Upload to your computer and view the images side by side. This will be much easier than trying to use your camera LCD screen to view the images.

Can you see the difference between shooting wide open with a low f/stop and shooting with a narrow aperture and a high f stop?

There is a lot more to depth of field and aperture than just this including concepts such as “The circle of confusion” – Ha! but I think we’ll stop there for now.ย  If you get the above you’re doing good!

I’d love to see some of your shots so feel free to post them on the CameraShy Facebook Fan Page.

Happy Snapping!


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joe kelly - August 25, 2011

great article well done

BusyWorkingMama - September 20, 2011

Great tutorial – I will play around with it at home. I have been trying to work on my photography!

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Preston Barrows - October 27, 2011

I was trying to explain changes in depth of field because of the aperture to my friend but he just couldnt wrap his head around it. I just found this page and the picture of the cupcakes (and the setting captions) finally got through his head. Thanks!

Ingrid - October 27, 2011

Glad I could help Preston ๐Ÿ™‚

Paul - March 5, 2012

Hi, I was looking around the web at blog sites that do similar things to mine and hey presto here you are! Just wanted to say that I think you’re doing a really nice job. Well done!

Ingrid - March 5, 2012

Thanks Paul – see you’re located in Noosa – 10 years since I did my trip round Oz but spent some time in Coolum Beach near Noosa Heads ๐Ÿ™‚ Beautiful part of the world!

Paul - March 12, 2012

Yeah I’m pretty lucky. Coolum has evolved a lot in the last 10yrs but in a good way. Noosa’s still just as nice as ever although I think a lot of the tourism is coming your way right now with the dollar as it is. Hope you like my blog?

Ingrid - March 12, 2012

Might get back there some day…

Love your blog – especially the format and style you have in doing your posts. Very easy to consume and understand ๐Ÿ™‚

David K. Sakyi - April 25, 2012

Great post. Simple and straightforward. Keep it coming!

Photography Progression - May 4, 2013


That is a great example of depth of field with the photo series of cupcakes. It is a big help to see the settings you used. Thanks for the tip.

James Broome - September 17, 2013

Great blog for beginners!

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