November 11, 2009

Speedlight Series: Aperture - Stop Up, Stop Down...Huh??

Apparently Michael does not know English or Spanish!! Everyone please email Michael at michael.orangetree (at) and tell him how to spell APERTURE!!! I would love for him to get at least 9.3 million emails before he checks it tomorrow morning!!! Is it true that blondes have more fun??

Back to the video:

The second variable of exposure is Aperture. What is aperture, it's pretty simple actually I will explain.

Your aperture setting controls what your flash is illuminating. If you take a picture and your flash is overexposing your subject(leaving giant white marks everywhere) you need to stop down (close your aperture). For example if you are shooting at f/5.6 you need to stop down by changing to f/8.0 and so on. If your subject is too dark, then you need to open your aperture to let more light in. So second example, if you are shooting at f/5.6 you need to change your aperture setting to f/2.8.

Pretty basic right??? It is!!!!

Examples after the break, if you have any questions leave a comment and we will answer quickly!!!

Primero (Oh my spanish ROCKS!!!!) example, as you can see the sky (background or ambient light) is exposed well at a shutter speed of 1/40th of a second. Well is relative, this is the effect that we wanted in the picture, but the model is overexposed with an aperture of f/2.8. TOO MUCH LIGHT!!!

So, we try to stop down (making the aperture smaller) and go to f/8 from the f/2.8 we were shooting at and this black monster happens. Notice the sky color, no change since we didn't change shutter speed because we know that shutter speed ONLY controls the ambient light.
What's that?? It's all making sense?? I can see a grin and you have some green stuff in your teeth!!!

and finally... the correctly exposed image!! The aperture was set to f/4.0 and shutter speed at 1/40th of a second and it worked like a charm.

So you are on your way to becoming a great flash firing photographer, only 3 variables left, 1 easy and 2 not so much...but don't worry that's where we come in, ok worry a little bit. But, I gotta say that if we learned it, I'm pretty sure there is a family of monkey's who are all photographers firing off some excellent sweet 16 shots using nothing but speedlights in the jungles of who knows where!

Any questions, leave a comment. Not about the Granadilla, we're not really sure what it is, could have been a practical joke the supermarket lady sold to el super gringo!!

The End!!! For now....tell a friend or 50 about this site and GET OUT OF HERE WITH YOUR SILLY GRIN LIKE YOU JUST LEARNED SOMETHING AND TAKE SOME PICTURES!!!


  1. K...well ive learnt im an idiot....thanks for making me wanna shoot again...

  2. I am now rolling on the floor laughing as I type this. Apparently you are NOT and I repeat NOT supposed to chew the Granadilla seeds like Michael!!! Super Gringo attacks again!!

    Jeff: That comment made the day worth it, the second part of it!!! Learning your an idiot really did nothing for me.

    Keep coming back!!!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. First of all. This is a great series where I am feel like I am learning quite a bit about photography. However I would like to make a comment to the end of the last video here; when you say "I don't know" to the question "what is that?" regarding a food item, DO NOT EAT IT!

  5. How was I suppose to know you were not suppose to eay the seeds?

  6. Dude I just hope that the seed don't have a hard time coming out... Thanks for posting that, very educational!!


  7. The example pictures suck because at 1/40th sec OF COURSE changing the aperture ALSO affects ambient.

    Love the series though.

  8. Anonymous - yes, but if you change your aperture you will change the exposure on your subject. Remember, aperture controls flash exposure. If your subject is properly exposed and you want to control the available will change your shutter speed. Again, if you adjust your aperture you will not only change the available but the exposure on your subject. Another note: if changed your aperture, you could adjust your flash power to compensate for the exposure change on your subject.

  9. What is the aperture in the flash? After seeing the series, is unclear to me how do you deal with the aperture in the SB28 ... - Thanks!

  10. It's me again about the A in the actual flash? Do I actually ignore it and simply set the flash power to,say 1/4, and use the aperture on the camera (in M mode) to get the exposure right? Thanks again - I truly enjoy your blog when are you coming to Philadelphia?

  11. What about depth of field though? Do you just throw that out the window?

  12. SB28 Question:
    Put the flash in manual mode. 1/4 to 1/2 is 1 stop of light. 1/2 to FULL power is 1 stop of light. You could control flash exposure by adjusting the power settings. But, I like to change the aperture in my camera to get the proper exposure. Email me if you are still unclear.

    -We always shoot manual.

    -Philly - we would love to go!


    Andy and I have briefly discussed Depth of Field. If you need more depth of field you can increase aperture (which mean you would need to increase flash power accordingly to compensate for flash exposure). You can also back away from the subject to create more depth of field. I personally like to shoot at a small aperture (f2.8 - 3.5)

  13. Awesome. Thanks. Do you guys usually start at a certain aperture and ISO and then go from there?

  14. Steven,

    If i want a shallow depth of field I look to shoot in the f2 - f4 range. But, if I am outside in the middle of the day I'm probably not going to be able to get f4. To answer your question, it depends on the look and lighting scenario. ISO, if I am shooting in low light I might increase the sensitivity to say ISO 400.