flotsam, photography

f/. or f stop.

F-stop. Which looks like what you want to say to someone who keeps on poking you with something sharp.

Which is a little bit how my brain feels about trying to learn this list of numbers. (Because they say to, that’s why.) OK, OK, f stops are important because they have to do with the size of the aperture and the focal length of the lens and how they interplay to let light into the camera. They’re also fractions (which is helped to be remembered when one writes it as “f/”) and that’s why (otherwise unintuitively) the bigger the number, the smaller the aperture = the less light entering the camera.

[We recall in our fractions that 1/1 is bigger than 1/2 is bigger than 1/64]

The full f-stops I’ve been told to memorize are:

1 1.4 2 2.8 4 5.6 8
11 16 22 32 45 64  

Um, yeah. My number dyslexia is not at all a problem for me right about now. Harrumph.

Of course, I look for some kind of pattern and end up flipping the table mentally:

 1 1.4
 2 2.8
 4 5.6
 8 11
16 22
32 45 (Um, shouldn’t that be 44, pattern-wise? Harrumph again!)

OK, for that first column, I have the pattern. It’s not even hard. Excellent.

For the second column I – wait, what? OK, whatever. Pattern pattern pattern (LEAP) pattern pattern what? Hmm. Guess what? If I memorize these by the (almost) pattern, I have a hard time putting them back into the “right” order again.

Oh f stop!

1 thought on “f/. or f stop.”

  1. Open up. Stop down. That’s what I remember about f-stops from my college photography professor. Unfortunately, he died suddenly of a heart attack midway though the semester. So I stopped going to class and got an f as a result. Stupid me. But I’ve always remembered those simple commands: Open up and stop down. Let light in, close it down. I loved changing the f-stop on my old Pentax SLR. You could do it without looking, while concentrating on the focus. It’s not quite the same with the new digital SLR’s. You have to look at all these screens. Takes the fun and the feel out of it. Frustrating!


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