What is Aperture Priority mode and what is Shutter Priority? And why are they important? We’ve been studying different aspects of exposure over the past few months and how to get out of “Auto” mode on your camera. We have looked at ISO, shutter speed, aperture. We know what each setting does and how it affects your images.
Now that we have looked at how these elements affect an image, let me show you how to use them. I will be focusing on two of the most popular shooting modes offered by digital cameras. These modes will allow you to step away from the auto settings you may be using a lot. If you are interested in learning more, Mode Aperture PriorityAndShutter priority mode. Let’s start by confirming your email.
Exposure: A quick overview
In other articles, I have discussed the impact of the three elements in the exposure triangle on each other. This is especially important when it concerns aperture and shutter speed.
Keep in mind: The larger your aperture, i.e. the hole you are shooting through, the lighter you allow to your sensor. To get a well-exposed image, your shutter speed will need to be shorter. You can also increase the shutter speed to achieve a well-exposed image.
Semi-manual modes such as Shutter Priority and Aperture are semi-manual. These modes allow you to have some control over your settings and ensure that you have a well-exposed image. This mode is only available on the best DSLR cameras with aperture mode. Semi-automatic modes like Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority let you choose some of the settings. The camera will then select the settings necessary to create a good exposure. Let’s look at each model individually:
Mode Aperture Priority
Aperture Priority mode can often be found on the Mode dial of your camera with an “A” and an “Av.” These modes allow you to set the aperture that you want, and the camera will adjust the shutter speed according to its assessment of the light.
What are the best times to use Aperture Priority mode?
The depth-of-field of your images is affected by the aperture. In other words, by changing the aperture, you can change how much of your scene will be in focus. A narrow aperture will focus the scene from foreground to backdrop, while a wider aperture will blur the focus. Most people choose the Aperture Priority mode to control the depth of field. You can choose a small aperture (f/2.8 in the example above) to achieve a shallow depth-of-field (for example, in this shot, it is very shallow). This will keep the front dandelion seeds in focus, but blur the background, and allow the camera to select the appropriate shutter speed.
If you want an image that has everything in focus, choose a smaller aperture (e.g. f/16) and let your camera select the appropriate shutter speed Aperture Priority mode will allow you to choose an aperture. However, the camera will select the shutter speed. There comes a time when shutter speeds are too slow to hold your camera steady (usually about 1/60 seconds). A tripod is recommended for those times below 1/60 seconds. (Also: If you are photographing a moving subject your shutter speed will affect how it is captured. A slow shutter speed can cause blurred images.
Shutter priority mode
Shutter Priority mode often displays a symbol of “Tv”, or “S” on the camera Mode dial. Shutter Priority lets you select the shutter speed that you want to use and the camera will decide the best aperture to create a well-exposed shot.
What are the best times to use Shutter Priority mode?
We discussed in our tutorial about shutter speed how different shutter speeds can have an impact on how images are captured. People switch to Shutter Priority mode when it is necessary to have more control over sharpness and movement. If you wish to photograph a bird moving, for example, and want to freeze it so that there is no blurred image, you would choose a fast shutter speed (e.g. 1/1000s as shown in the photo below). The camera will then consider how much light is available and adjust the aperture accordingly.
If you want to capture motion blur, like a subject moving, you can use a slower shutter speed such as 1/25s. Your camera will choose a smaller aperture. As the flower was moving in the wind, the photo below was taken at 0.4 seconds. Can you see the blurred effect that slow shutter speeds created? But don’t forget: The depth of your image will change as the aperture is changed by the camera. Your photo will have a smaller depth of field if you use a faster shutter speed to freeze a fast-moving object.
Final recommendation: Practice!
As you can see Shutter Priority (or Aperture Priority) gives you greater control over your images, but it can take some time to get used to them. These semi-automatic modes are great for semi-automatic shooting. But don’t forget to pay attention to the settings that you select; also, be aware of the settings that your camera chooses for you. When shooting in “Av”, or “Tv” modes it is often best to bracket your shots so that you can shoot multiple images of the same subject at different settings. You’ll be more likely to get at most one shot that suits your needs. It is best to get out your camera and start to experiment with Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority modes. You can switch to “Av”, or “Tv”, and play with the settings, taking lots of photos as you go. Pay attention to the effects of your choices on the shot you take.
Take some photos in Aperture Priority mode. Use the largest aperture possible (i.e. small f-numbers). This will blur the background and increase the shutter speed. Next, move to the opposite end of the spectrum and take shots at the narrowest aperture possible (i.e. high f-numbers). This will allow you to focus more on your image. You can experiment with Shutter Priority mode to change the shutter speed and see how it affects your photo’s depth-of-field.
Do not be discouraged if you don’t get the shots you want. It takes practice to master these modes. You’ll be able to have more creative control when you master both Shutter Priority and Aperture Priority.