How And When to Use Aperture Priority Mode

Aperture Priority

If you are still getting started at digital photography, you will discover that there is a lot that you still need to learn especially concerning how to use various modes and settings of your camera. One step to becoming a professional digital photographer is learning how to move out of the "Auto" mode on your digital camera.

You won't be able to do a lot of things like change the shutter speed or aperture if you are stuck on full-auto mode of your digital camera. You need these setting to be just right in certain situations when you need to adjust them. Learning how and when to use them will help you become a much better photographer. We will go over what Aperture priority mode is in this article and then look at when and how you can use them.

Aperture Priority

What's Priority Modes?

Aperture and Shutter Priority modes are never fully-manual or fully-automatic settings. In fact, they are semi-manual and semi-automatic mode that give you control over the settings of your digital camera. These settings ensure you have a well-exposed image.

Whether you are shooting vast landscapes or the smallest of insects, aperture-priority mode allows you to have some control over your settings. Most photographers considers aperture-priority mode as the mode that determines how perfect a photograph will turn out in certain situations.

When To Use Aperture Priority Mode

Below are the scenarios/situation where you will need to use Aperture priority mode

ØShooting Portraits

When shooting portraits, it is important that you get your lighting perfect whether you are using natural light or flashes. This situation demands that you choose an aperture at the range you are comfortable with before shooting. You can shoot at range of apertures when taking portraits. Consider using f/8 or any other range that you are comfortable with.

ØShooting Landscapes

Aperture priority mode always works great for landscapes photography. In Landscapes photography, you will typically have a foreground and a background and even a middle ground too. Thus, you require a wider aperture to be able to see all these grounds in focus. Aperture priority mode comes into play when you want to achieve this. You should choose a range that you can work with. You may also add a tripod in order to achieve stability.

ØShallow Depth of Field

You can only achieve shallow depth of field by opening up your camera's aperture in order to get in more light. When the camera's aperture is opened up, more light gets into the camera. In fact, it can jump from f/2.8 to f/1.4 and even allows four times more light to enter into your camera. This light can be counteracted easily by the shutter speed automatically in aperture priority mode.

Most photographers use larger aperture such as f/1.4 when they want a shallow depth of field and then allow the camera to select an appropriate shutter speed. Alternatively, they use a smaller aperture such as f/22 when they want an image with everything in focus and then allow the camera to choose the appropriate shutter speed.

When You Don't Need Aperture Priority Mode

There some situations where you don’t need aperture priority mode but you think you do. Some of these situations include:

ØPoor Light/Darkened Room

When shooting in a poor light situation or darkened room, you may think you need aperture priority mode to let in more light. But it doesn't work that way. The best option to use in this situation is the shutter speed priority.

Darkened room creates two problems which include exposure and camera shake. You are only solving half of the problem which is light when you set the camera to aperture priority. However, you can be able to deal with both problems when you are in shutter speed priority.

Night Landscapes

Although you need aperture priority when shooting landscapes but the situation is not always the same when you are shooting at night. Night photography is very different from the daytime photography. You will need a complete manual mode in order to make the right calculations. Note that in most cases, night landscape photograph is more of a case of trial and error.


Understanding when you need to use aperture priority will make a lot of difference in your photography. Don't be frustrated if your initial shots are not what you had expected. Continue to put in more practice, over time; you will begin to get it right.

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