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Shoot in Aperture Priority Mode

The shooting mode of pro outdoor photographers is aperture priority mode (that’s the little A or Av on your digital camera’s mode dial). The reason why this mode is so popular is that it lets you decide how to creatively present the photo. Here’s what I mean: Let’s say you’re shooting a tiger with a telephoto zoom lens and you decide you want the tiger (who’s in the foreground of the shot) to be in focus, but you want the background out of focus. With aperture priority mode, it’s easy—set your aperture to the smallest number your lens will allow (for example, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, etc.) and then focus on the tiger. That’s it. The camera (and the telephoto lens) does the rest—you get a sharp photo of the tiger and the background is totally out of focus. So, you just learned one of the three aperture tricks: low numbers (and a zoom lens) leave your subject in the foreground in focus, while the background goes out of focus. Now, what do you do if you want the tiger and the background to both be in focus (you want to see the tiger and his surroundings clearly)? You can move your aperture to either f/8 or f/11. These two settings work great when you just want to capture the scene as your eye sees it (without the creative touch of putting the background majorly out of focus). Far away backgrounds (way behind the tiger) will be a little bit out of focus, but not much. That’s the second trick of aperture priority mode. The third trick is which aperture to use when you want as much as possible in focus (the foreground, the middle, the background—everything): just choose the highest number your lens will allow (f/22, f/36, etc.).

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