Jon Simons Photography: Blog en-us (C) Jon Simons Photography (Jon Simons Photography) Wed, 25 Jan 2017 16:39:00 GMT Wed, 25 Jan 2017 16:39:00 GMT Jon Simons Photography: Blog 120 80 Photography A to Z: A is for aperture This is the beginning of an occasional series of blogs on the meanings of various photographic terms. I've wrapped it up in an A to Z format but will no doubt go round the alphabet several times, as there are a few options under each letter.

So what the heck is aperture? Well, it is 'a space through which light passes in an optical or photographic instrument, especially the variable opening by which light enters the camera'. Mmm, much clearer, eh! No, perhaps not.

Aperture is one of photography's trinity of exposure - the other 2 being ISO and shutter speed (these will be covered in a later blog). So if the hole, or aperture, allowing light into the camera is wide, then more light will hit the sensor, and vice versa. In photography the size of the aperture is referred to as the f-number or f-stop. And if you are interested this is the ratio of the lens's focal length and the size of the aperture.

Here is a graphic showing some of the f-numbers:

These would continue from f8 to f11 to f16 to f22 and further if your lens could achieve it.

It can be seen that the smaller the f-number, the larger the aperture and this would seem rather counter-intuitive. It might also be less obvious that for each 'stop' of aperture there is a halving or doubling of the light entering through that aperture. So for example, going from f5.6 to f8 is halving the amount of light reaching the sensor. Conversely, going from f5.6 to f4 will be doubling the amount of available light. Still not convinced?

This next bit is a bit technical and may not 'float your boat' but I think it's worth sticking with as it proves a point...eventually.

The thing to remember from the definition at the start is that f-number is a ratio of focal length and the diameter of the aperture. For example, if we used a 50mm lens then the diameter of the aperture at f2 would be 50/2 = 25mm. So far, so good. It would make more sense to think of the size of the aperture in terms of its total area rather than just a diameter in order for us to understand how much light might be getting through. This means we have to get into calculating the area of a circle. Honestly, it's not as bad as it seems. We would use that old calculation from school days of πr2. π is a constant, call it 3.142, r2 is the radius (half the diameter) of the aperture, squared, i.e. multiplied by itself. Stay with me ... this means in our example above that the area of f2 would be 3.142 x (12.5 x 12.5) = 490 square mm.

So what was the point of that! Well, if you let me finish it will help show why the next f-number will have a half or double sized aperture area. So if we now go to f2.8 the calculations are the same as above i.e. 50/2.8 = 17.8 mm; πr2 = 3.142 x (8.9 x 8.9) = 249 square mm (8.9 being half (radius) of diameter). Therefore 249 is pretty much half of 490 thus proving that each f-stop either halves or doubles the amount of light passing through it depending which way you are moving through the stops.

Phew that wasn't so bad, was it?

This, of course, means that the amount of light entering the camera is the same for any given f-stop irrespective of focal length of the lens.

Well that's about it for aperture for the moment. There are lots of other relationships for aperture, such as its effect on exposure, depth of field etc and these will be covered in later blogs.

One last thing though. A common term used by photographers is that of 'stopping down'. This just means that they are going to a smaller physical aperture which is of course is represented by the larger f-number e.g. going from f5.6 to f8. On the flip side, 'opening up' means the opposite; a wider aperture but smaller f-number e.g. f5.6 to f4.

Hope that makes some sense of it all for you. Until the next time!

]]> (Jon Simons Photography) A to Z aperture exposure f-stop Sat, 21 Jan 2017 20:46:55 GMT
Sleeklens 'Through the woods workflow' lightroom presets review Sleeklens ( is a newish Danish company that started in 2015 with the remit of producing quality products. They make brushes and presets for Lightroom ( as well as Photoshop; they produce lots of different kinds of templates as well as providing an editing service.

Now, I'm a bit of a preset junkie - I love the idea of them and they appeal to the slightly lazy side of my nature! I have loads in my Lightroom and that's part of the problem; they don't get used very often because I get bored wading through hundreds of choices. The other problem is that all the ones that I have aren't stackable which means that each one overrides the previous one. Not very flexible.

However the good people over at Sleeklens offered me to try out a landscape workflow called 'Through the Woods Workflow'. This is made up of 51 presets and 30 brushes and the best thing about the presets is that they are stackable. I can add multiple presets and they will act cumulatively which is awesome. Needless to say that I said yes to the offer.

This is not one of the best photos that I have ever taken but it will serve to illustrate the process of using the new presets. This is the unprocessed version (apart from lens correction in Lightroom).

Generally a bit washed out and certainly doesn't 'pop'!

So the first preset I applied was 'Warm Shadows' (an All in one preset). 

This definitely perked things up a bit - colours are a bit richer but the sky is still very washed out.

Next I chose an Exposure preset called 'Darken' to help, unsurprisingly, darken the image down.

The default for this preset is a -1.00 exposure. I thought this was a bit much so I reduced it manually in Lightroom to -0.80. This is one of the great things with stackable presets; you can adjust each one to suit, as well as have them add to each other overall.

Still not happy with that sky! This time I went for a Colour preset called 'Deep blue sky'. I had to readjust the exposure back to -0.3 because I didn't like the look I had.

Well it's looking a lot better than it did so is there anything else left to do? I think so. This time it was a Polish preset called 'Add contrast'. It may have darkened the mound a bit but that is easily fixed.

Almost there - I used one of the brushes - 'Cloudy sky definition' at about 50% flow just to get the sky back to where I want it and that was it. I thought about some other things but decided against them at this stage.

So there's the final image - well as final as it is going to be at the moment. There are still a lot of presets left to play with :)

And that's the thing about presets, there are lots to play with and if you like using them then it's a lot of fun trying them out on different images. One preset may look rubbish on one type of image but great on another so they can never be discounted.

So what do I think about these Sleeklens Through the Woods presets? I actually like them a lot. I love the fact that they can be stacked and this makes a big difference to how they can be used to build up an image. I think it's rare for a non-stackable preset to give you the exact look you are after in an image but because these can work together and each one is fully adjustable it is much easier to achieve your goal quite quickly. They give you an opportunity to try out different things with your images in a fairly controlled way.


]]> (Jon Simons Photography) lightroom post processing presets sleeklens Wed, 11 Jan 2017 19:43:03 GMT