Using small apertures to photograph landscapes

DEPTH OF FIELD

A landscape typically has a broad depth of field with focus throughout the image. In order to do this the camera needs to use a small aperture (high f/number). Here are a number of ways of making that happen:

  • BEGINNERS: Use the landscape setting if your camera has one (usually found in Scene Modes). Your image will be optimised for greens, browns and blues and the depth of field will be quite broad.
  • Or put the camera in P Mode and scroll the main command wheel. You will see alternative shutter speeds and aperture combinations displayed. Choose a higher f/number e.g. f/11 or higher to get more of your image in focus. You will see that the shutter speed gets slower. If it gets slower than 1/60 you need to increase the ISO or use a tripod.
  • INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED: Use the Aperture Priority Mode or Manual Exposure and select f/16. As a general rule of thumb this will give you an image that is in focus throughout, if you focus one third into the image. At one third in to the frame is the hyperfocal point, beyond which everything else will be in focus, simply speaking. You may need to manually focus to control this.

  • Keep an eye on your shutter speed. Increase the ISO if necessary. Or, alternatively use a tripod. If you do, note the following:
    • Switch off image stabilising on the camera or lens.
    • Set the ISO to 100, as the shutter speed can now be as slow as it needs to be.
    • You could make the aperture smaller if you like, now that you are not worried about shutter speed.

COMPOSITION:

Here are some simple tips to help prevent your scenery photos feeling bland and “so what.”

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