Landscape Photography: Manual Mode or Aperture Priority

When photographing landscapes, one important factor that your camera settings influence is the depth of field. Usually you want a landscape image to come out as sharp as possible throughout the whole frame. And as you might have already guessed, you can control that by adjusting your aperture. You can easily do this by putting the camera either in the aperture priority mode or the manual mode. But which camera mode should you go with between these two? Landscape photographer Mads Peter Iversen explores this topic in today’s video:

As Iversen demonstrates in the video, aperture priority mode works great when you’re taking landscape photographs. You’ll get consistent results as long as the lighting does not change dramatically. Also, keep in mind that the camera’s meter is programmed to expose the scene to 50% grey. What this means is that if you’re shooting bright locations (snowy or foggy conditions), then this mode will slightly underexpose your shots. You can however override this by using the exposure compensation button. And in case you want to alter the shutter speed while you’re in aperture priority mode, you can change the camera’s ISO.

“In about 90 percent of my landscape photography, I can get away with aperture priority. It’s just so easy to use.”

Manual mode is more useful whenever you require creative control over your photos, or when you’re shooting in challenging conditions. For instance, if you’re shooting in low light conditions, or when you want to do astrophotography or light painting, then the manual mode is your best bet. Also, it’s a good idea to work in manual mode if the lighting conditions are continuously changing. Like in Iversen’s case, he likes to shoot in manual mode around water bodies because when the waves break, the lighting changes drastically. So, he pre-determines his exposure and locks it in manual mode to get consistent results.

“There are no right or wrong camera modes. There are just modes that are more optimal in different conditions.”

What is your camera mode of choice for landscape photography?

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