What we’re going to show you today is the first step in getting your camera off auto mode and setting it up for architectural photography. We’re not going to use full manual just yet and instead use a camera mode called aperture priority. This is going to allow you to control the depth of field of the photo, but leave the shutter speed for the camera to figure out. This setup is really quite simple and you’ll be wondering why you left your camera on auto once you know it. Of course to follow along you need a camera that has manual controls.
Step 1 : Aperture Priority Mode
Using the main dial change the auto setting to either A or Av. Different cameras will call this different names, so check your manual if you’re unsure.
Step 2: Set your aperture to 11
Once you are set to aperture priority mode you should be able to adjust the aperture of the camera (in auto mode the aperture and shutter speed settings are locked). Different models do this differently but for Canon cameras use the index finger dial to adjust the aperture shown on the top LCD screen. What this does is increase your depth of field so more of the building will be in focus. Depth of field and the affects of aperture is a big topic, but to get you started here’s a clip that explains depth of field in 90 seconds.
Step 3: Set your ISO to 100
This is not so much related to aperture priority mode, but keeping your ISO low will ensure better image and color quality, especially when dealing with longer exposures which are typical in architectural photography.
Step 4: Fix your camera to a tripod and start taking photos
Use this set up at dusk and dawn and you’ve got a recipe for taking some great architectural photography.
Fine tuning aperture priority mode
There are two other things that you’ll want to learn more about if you plan to use aperture priority mode. The first is metering modes, which controls how a camera measures light in a scene to calculate a shutter speed. (Check out this clip for an into). The second is exposure compensation which allows you make shots taken in aperture priority mode lighter or darker. You can learn more about that here.