Switching into aperture priority mode is a game changer. It’s like taking the training wheels off your bike. Rather than having your camera tell you what the right aperture is for the shot, you tell the camera. When you choose the aperture for landscape shots, you are deciding how much light will pass into the camera onto the film or onto your DSLR’s sensor and how much depth of field your image will have.
The aperture you choose or landscape, or portrait or any other scenario will determine the depth of field, which is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects that are in sharp focus in an image.
A wide aperture of f/2.8 to f/4 delivers a reduced depth of field. What’s right in front of the camera is in sharp focus and everything behind is blurry. This aperture setting is a great strategy for outdoor portraits, as we discuss in our blog about the best camera settings for outdoor portraits.
A medium aperture, from f/5.6 to f/8, will give you a slightly expanded depth of field. The foreground will be sharp and the background will be blurry, but not so blurry as with a wide aperture shot. A medium aperture is a good approach if you want to draw attention to something in the foreground but not so dramatically that it looks like you are taking a portrait.
Small Aperture (Best Aperture for Landscape Pictures, Usually)
Most landscape pictures are shot with a small aperture, also called a narrow aperture, ranging from f/10 to f/16. Most or all of the scene will appear in sharp focus. To get a composition with the right amount of exposure, you’ll need to compensate with a long shutter speed or a higher ISO setting, both of which will mean you probably need to use a tripod or your image will end up blurry.
What the heck is ISO? Check out our blog on DSLR camera basics for a quick rundown. To see what the three aperture settings above look like, check out our blog on aperture priority mode.
If you have any questions about choosing the best aperture for landscape pictures, feel free to reach out to us via our social media channels!
Learn Landscape Photography with Jim and Lori Steinberg
Interested in testing the waters of landscape photography with an award-winning photographer?
Join other aspiring photographers on a photo adventure with Jim and Lori Steinberg of Steinberg Photography. You’ll learn how to set up the depth of field, composition, and yes, aperture for landscape pictures, and much more! To see where we are headed next, check out our Workshops and Photo Tours!