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Getting great photos with Aperture Mode & the right Aperture Number

Getting great photos with Aperture Mode & the right Aperture Number

By John Lechner

When you are setting up your camera for a landscape photo in the morning, evening or even at night when the light is low, you should have it on a tripod. 

Setting your camera in the right mode in changing light is critical. Aperture mode is perfect for this as all other settings will remain constant except your shutter speed. Meaning with a tripod and timer mode you can get sharp photos regardless of the available light.

To find aperture mode on your camera you should have a dial or a setting where you change the shooting mode. It will probably have Auto, A for aperture, S for shutter speed and possibly an M for manual (depending on your camera). You probably have a bunch of other modes like sport mode, portrait mode and all those sorts of different things. 

When you’re taking a landscape photograph, put your camera into A mode. That’s Aperture mode.  On a Nikon it’s A. If you’re using a Canon it is Av. 

My next tip is one they won’t teach you in photography school. The tip is to use an aperture number between F4 & F6.3.

The reason is Dust Spots. One of the issues with digital cameras with aperture numbers of F8 to F22 is that dust spots will appear, especially in the sky.

Keeping your aperture number between F4 & F6.3 will avoid almost all dust spots and save you a significant amount of time in post-production.

A reason you are taught to use a higher aperture number is depth of field. As a general rule with a landscape, you’re going with a wide focal length say 18, 20 or 24mm. You probably have a 18-55mm lens or something similar. 

For most landscapes you want to be closer to the 18mm than the 55mm when you’re doing a landscape because you want to get as much of the panorama as possible. 

When shooting landscapes, generally you’re not focussing on things really close to you.  So, depth of field isn’t usually critical.

At a small focal length (18-24mm) almost everything will be in focus as long as it is at least 3 metres from the camera.

So depth of field isn’t really an issue, put your lens to infinity ∞ and everything should be in focus. 

If you keep your aperture between F4 and F5.6, I will guarantee you that 99% of the time, you’re not going to have a bunch of dust spots. If you have a lot of sky in your photograph, it can take up to an hour to remove all the dust spots in post-production.

So my tip is:

Put your camera in Aperture mode, A or Av and then set your aperture somewhere between F4 and F6.3.

Smartphone Tip
At this time, this is not a setting generally adjustable on phone cameras.
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