Aperture Priority Mode – Part 4

It has been a while since I wrote any blog posts. Why? Well, life, kids, work, vacations, TV, everything!!! I know it isn’t a good excuse, but it is the excuse I’m using. To be honest, I really didn’t know what I wanted to talk about. I had great intentions to do this fancy photography lesson’s and all. Well, I was looking back at some of my posts from last year and realized, that I didn’t start enough with some basic’s.

I wrote about Manual mode and the other settings on your camera. But I realized, that if you read it, I just threw you into the deep end, with out giving you any swimming lesson’s.

Let’s talk about Aperture and Aperture Priority mode on your camera. I have found over the last 3 or 4 months, that I have taken a lot of photo’s in Aperture Priority mode. This mode, is basically, giving you the photographer the ability to specify what Aperture setting you want the camera to use and then let the onboard computer decide what shutter speed will be.

If I’m outdoors or in a very, very well lit indoor setting, then using aperture priority will ensure I get to take really nice photo’s without having to think to much about my settings. I can concentrate on composition (don’t get me started on composition yet – future blog – I promise), framing, and subject of my photo.

So if I choose to shoot in Aperture Priority mode primarily, you might ask me, “is this it? is this the secret of photography?” Well the answer is no, it means that in about 80% of my photo’s I take, Aperture Priority mode is enough. Using Aperture priority, I can concentrate on just taking photo’s and ensure when I look through my camera, I’m getting the picture that I want. Taking photos in Aperture priority mode ensures I don’t miss a shot, because I’m messing with my cameras settings. I paid enough for my camera, i guess i should trust those Japanese programmers from Nikon, know what they are doing when they programmed my Nikon.


In this example, one afternoon I took my daughter to a local park and wanted to get some photo’s of her playing. It was a very bright afternoon, other kids were playing, there were a few clouds in the sky. Basically, I had lot’s and lot’s of nature bright light. I knew that I could take photos with very shallow depth of field (just my primary subject, my daughter, in focus) or very deep depth of field (more things in focus). I probably took close to 200 photo’s of her playing. Some of my photo’s were very sharp, some were very blurry, some I could see kid’s playing (more sharp) in the background, others they were blurry (less sharp). The important thing on this photo shoot, was capturing memories in the camera of my daughter playing. I was taking a lot of photo’s of her, and I didn’t have time to keep messing with my camera setting’s, because cloud’s were passing in front of the sun (changing the available light) or she was in the shadow’s of the playground equipment. The camera figured out, based on available light which shutter speed to use.

I did however make a few changes to my ISO. You will remember that I mention in a previous post that ISO is the speed of the film or the sensitivity of a Digital Sensor. So why did I change the ISO?Well kids when they play move a lot. I was noticing in my camera, that the shutter speed was sometimes between 1/30th to 1/90th of a second when I was using a smaller aperture.

You may think that is pretty fast and you would be right, unless you daughter is running and all your photo’s have a blur or don’t look sharp because of the movement. When a child is running, they are moving pretty quick. To ensure that I was capturing the movement and freezing it, I knew that I needed to have the photo’s shoot at between 1/150 to 1/500th of a second. So I increase my ISO to 400 or 800 to allow the Aperture Priority mode and the computer in my camera to select a faster shutter speed, while I was taking the photo’s.

Instantly with a change of my ISO and keeping my aperture at a pre-determine size f8, I was capturing my daughter while playing.

You might ask, why didn’t I just set my camera to shutter speed priority mode? Well, then I would be letting the camera decide how large or small the aperture was going to be and then I might not have enough detail in focus. There are times when Shutter priority is important, like capturing very fast motion, but a little girl playing on the playground isn’t one of those times. I wanted very sharp in focus photo’s that froze her action just enough. Now if I take a photo of her playing soccer, now that is a different story.

As you can see in the photos provided, I captured my daughter in play as well as stationary, and captured sharp and bright photos just using Aperture priority mode.