Choose A Large Aperture Number For Scenic Images

I know we’re animal photographers, but every once-in-a-while, it’s fun to shoot landscapes, and fall is such a magical time for making them. Everywhere we look we are surrounded by vibrant color. For me, the place to see it all is in the Rockies.

Well darn, I’m not there this year, so I need to dial-up one of the very best photographers in the region, Marsha Hobert, and enjoy what she has created recently.


Pa-Wow! What a great photographer!!!

Even if we don’t have Marsha’s eye, we can all begin the daunting task of creating images like these by choosing the correct settings on our camera.

If we are using a cell, remember a few of the hints I wrote about several weeks ago. Shoot with the sun behind you and don’t plan on cropping later with your software. I’d also add that using the zoom feature on your cell camera will give you pretty much the same results as cropping with your software program. It’s still cropping and it won’t work.

If you are using a Point and Shoot, you have a few more options. You have a lot more resolution, a lot more, than with a cell camera, so you can do some cropping later. Start by putting the dial on the scenic icon and shoot away. Setting the scenic icon means that the camera will choose as much depth of field as it can. (Will set the largest number on the aperture scale the light will allow.) There’s a lot more involved, but if you want to throw around terms at your next cocktail party, just stick to the basics… large numbers produce deep depth of field and small numbers produce shallow depth of field. For a scenic image, we want a lot of depth (deep) in front of, and behind, the point of focus.

If you have moved up to an SLR, then there are even more variables to take into account. Two of the biggies are the focal distance of the lens you are using and how close you are to your subject with any particular lens. But let’s just keep it simple.

We know that shutter speed and aperture numbers are inversely related (as one goes up, the other goes down), so if we choose a large aperture number, (deep depth of field), we will have to settle for a slower shutter speed. Hey we know that won’t work for animal photography… if you know only one thing from reading my blog or my book, you know that my mantra is to always set the shutter speed to at least 1/250th of a second to stop the animal movement.

But right now we are shooting a scenic, so we are going to forget about movement and the control for movement (shutter speed) and set our dial on aperture priority (A on your dial). With this setting, the camera will choose as slow a shutter speed as it can given the light.

Jeez. This stuff is complicated, but it’s ok. This week we want to take some scenic images…and we want to capture images as good as Marsha Hobert!

Ok, that’s not going to happen, but we can try.

If you are an advanced photographer and want to go for the whole enchilada, choose manual and adjust the shutter speed to 1/60th of a second. (As low as you can go without blur for a hand-held exposure.)If the meter still isn’t happy and you aren’t happy because you want more depth, throw in the third variable that affects exposure and adjust the ISO setting to a higher number.

Got all that?

Hope so. Just remember that if you are shooting a scenic image without animals, you can concentrate on the aperture number and not the shutter speed. Landscapes don’t move (unless you do or there is a lot of wind), so it’s ok to slow the shutter way down.

Good shooting.

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