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What is Aperture Priority and when should you use it? + 2 Exercises!

What is Aperture Priority?  Learn photography tips to help new photographers in the photography article for beginners!

What is Aperture Priority and when should you use it? + 2 Exercises You can try today!

Have you heard the term aperture priority floating around, but not exactly sure what it is or if you should give it a try?

Let me help you try to figure it out, and see if it is the mode you should be working on your camera.

Before we start though, let me first say that I think shooting in manual mode is going to give you the best results with your shooting and creativity and your final goal should be to aim to eventually figure out manual mode, BUT keeping that in the back of your mind, in the meantime aperture priority is the perfect mode to start working in if you want to break out of automatic. So let’s get started.

Related Article: The 4 Step System To Shooting in Manual Mode

What is Aperture Priority ?  Understand the difference between aperture priority and manual mode

What is Aperture Priority?

Aperture priority mode helps you get a jump start on really understanding manual by allowing you to focus only on the aperture.  You set the aperture and you camera adjusts the rest of the settings to properly expose your photo! Sounds pretty great, huh?

The aperture controls the depth of field and is referred to as the f stop.  The smaller the f stop number the wider the aperture. Less of your photo will be in focus this way.  The bigger the f stop number, the narrower the aperture and the more of your photo will be in focus.

Exercise #1 

Choose a subject (if you’re practicing preferable one that will not move, and apple or stuffed animal maybe?) 

Set your camera to aperture priority. Then, set your camera at a wide f stop (small number)  Some lenses can go low as 1.2 while others might only go down to 5.6. This is dependant on your lens, so don’t worry about how far it can go down, just place it as low as it goes.   Focus in on your subject and take a picture. Take a look at the settings the camera choose for the shutter speed and iso. Paying attention to these numbers will help you start to understand how to set them on your own in the future.

Exercise #2

This time you are going to do the same thing- same subject , same location, and you stay in the same spot too (don’t move!)  Now increase the aperture (higher f stop number) This might be F/11 or bigger. Take the same picture. Look at the numbers your camera selected for the other values.  Do you notice a difference?

Finally take a look at the two images. 

  • What are the biggest difference you notice?
  • Which one do you like better?
  • What could you do next time to make it look more like the style you’d like to have?
What is Aperture Priority?  Learn what aperture priority is in this easy to follow photography tip article!

Try these two exercises in different settings with different subjects in different lighting situations.  Soon, you’ll start to see some patterns and understand how you’ll set your camera once you do move over to manual mode!

Want to learn more about manual mode and taking better photos?  Join me for a free class in my one hour Photography Bootcamp! Register for your spot here.

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What is Aperture Priority?  Great photography tips for new photographers looking to understand how to master manual mode.
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