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  • Writer's pictureRachel Z

Aperture Priority Mode Explained

There are many modes that come with every different camera on the market these days. For anyone new to them, it can be a little overwhelming. That is why I wanted to take some time today to dive into aperture priority mode explained. As always, hey it's Rachel with Rachel Z Photography, your San Francisco, California photography guide!

Aperture Priority mode is a go-to for many photographers. The reasons? Creative control, artistry, control over light management are just a few of the inherent benefits. Our cameras, depending on the make and model, have multiple shooting modes. The three primary modes that are referred to mostly are Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual.

Some cameras also offer other modes that are reflected as symbols on the dial. In Program mode, the camera chooses shutter speed and aperture and allows you to override any of the other defaults. There are also scene symbols that instruct the camera to choose settings based on how it reads the scene. Different manufacturers have their own variations.

Aperture priority is noted by either A (Nikon) or Av (Canon) on a camera mode dial, as in the photo above.

Depth of Field

Aperture priority allows the photographer to select the size of the lens diaphragm opening, which affects the depth of field. The aperture (size of the opening) value is represented as an f/stop. The smaller the value, such as f/2.8, the smaller or shallower the depth of field. The bigger the number, such as f/16, the larger the depth of field, which means more of the image appears in focus.

Shutter Speed

While shooting in Aperture Priority, you're controlling how big the opening is. You are also affecting shutter speed. The larger the opening/hole/aperture (these terms are used interchangeably), the more light that passes through to the sensor. An f/stop of f/2.8 will give a faster shutter speed and more light overall. An f/stop of f/16 will give less light and a slower shutter speed.

About Rachel Z Photography

I'm a 28-year-old San Francisco-based photographer, activist, tattoo enthusiast, and guardian of 2 lovely rescued birds. I adore doing portrait photography for others, whether that's indoors or outdoors, covered in flowers and nature or covered in fake blood. My goal with my photography is to empower you by taking the essence of who you are and turning it into works of art. I want to hear what YOUR ideas are and help make them into a reality. I want you to feel powerful. I want you to feel beautiful. I want you to feel confident, because we all deserve that.

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