Aperture and Shutter Speed Priority – Digital Photography Tip of the Week

Last week I talked about the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and film speed and in previous weeks, some of the reasons why you would want to adjust any of those settings. This week I will build on that by telling you how you can optimize your shooting by using some of your camera’s features.

Digital SLRs and Prosumer cameras have the ability to use a couple of semi-automatic modes that allow you to make an adjustment to aperture (or shutter speed) and will automatically pick the correct value for the shutter speed (or aperture) as do some consumer digital cameras. It may be through a dial on the camera or a menu item in the camera setup. Many cameras have it marked as A or AV for aperture priority or T or TV for shutter speed priority. Your manual can tell you if your camera supports either of these modes and how to access them. These are considered semi-automatic because when you use one of the priority modes, you pick adjust one setting and the camera makes the necessary adjustments to the other. When you set the aperture in aperture priority mode, the camera automatically selects the correct shutter speed. When you select the shutter speed in shutter priority mode, the camera automatically selects the correct aperture.

Using the information I have given you in the past few weeks, you should now be able to make some good decisions about how to set your camera to record what you envision your photo to be without too much though over technical details. Remember, setting your camera to use a small aperture (large number on your f-stop scale) will increase depth of field, and a large aperture (small number) will give you shallow depth of field which is useful for isolating your subject. A short shutter speed will stop motion, while a long shutter speed will show motion in your photograph.

Next week I briefly discuss the how flash placement affects your photos.


The digital photography tip of the week is written by the PCIN Assistant Editor, Chris Empey. Chris is a long time photographer and is currently the vice-president of the Niagara Falls Camera Club. You can see more of his photography at his Photo of the Day website.
If you have a tip to send Chris, or a question about digital photography he can address in the newsletter, send it to chris@pcin.net.

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