How to Advance Your Photography with Aperture Priority Mode

Many photographers think that the next step after shooting in auto mode is jumping right into manual. But, as landscape and architecture photographer Wayne Moran says, it’s all about baby steps. Start with a semi-manual mode like Aperture Priority to take control of your camera. Aperture Priority mode is a great start to get away from automatic and it can actually end up being your go-to mode:

You can still take great photos in auto mode, especially since cameras today are just getting better, but Aperture Priority allows you to be completely creative and artistic since you get to control the depth of field. Moran actually shoots 90-95 percent of his images in aperture priority mode.

What is Aperture?

The aperture is the opening of the lens and controls how much light comes into the lens. When you’re setting Aperture Priority, you’re changing the f-stop and telling the camera if you want the lens wide-open, partially open, or almost completely closed. This controls the depth of field.

What is Depth of Field?

In the simplest terms, depth of field refers to how much is in focus in an image.

F-Stop Rule of Thumb

The lower your f-stop number (e.g., f/2.8), the narrower your depth of field, meaning the smaller your focal plane will be on your image. Only a sliver of the image may be in focus.

narrow depth of field

An f-stop of f/2 is a large opening and results in a narrow depth of field.

The higher your f-stop number (e.g., f/22), the larger your depth of field—meaning more things in the image will be in good focus.

large depth of field

An f-stop of f/22 is a small opening and results in a wide depth of field.

Take a major leap in your artistic process without worrying about all the complex settings that come with manual mode. With Aperture Priority mode, you can take control of your camera and greatly improve your photography!

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  1. On the caption for the f/2 photo you write “An f-stop of f/2 is a large opening and results in a large depth of field.” I believe you mean a narrow, or small depth of field, no?

  2. Ashleigh Hogg says:

    Hi Susan, Don’t know if you received something different to the version that reached me, but for F2 the caption there says “An f-stop of f/2 is a large opening and results in a narrow depth of field.” I don’t think anyone would argue with that.

  3. Ah, they must have updated it – As you see from my original comment it used to read “large depth of field” – glad to see they fixed it.

  4. Wayne Moran says:

    Thanks so much for writing this up.
    Nicely done.

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