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Tips & Tutorials >> All Tips & Tutorials

Aperture-Priority Technique #8: The Ideal Aperture for Sharp Depictions of Natural Landscapes with Depth

When photographing grand natural landscapes, you will usually want to ensure that at the very least, fine details are well captured and light/shadow contrasts are adequately depicted. Professional photographers will often recommend an aperture setting of f/11 for such scenes, as it brings out the subject in a sharp and very powerful manner—especially effective for natural landscapes that extend far into the distance. (Reported by: Teppei Kohno)

f/11/ 1/160sec/ ISO 400


For scenes with a deep depth of field, use f/11

If the distant scene you want to take has a shallow depth of field, you can take a sharp image of it even if you use a wider aperture. However, if the scene you want to capture involves majestic natural landscapes with a lot of depth, using an aperture that is too wide will prevent you from achieving a clear overall depiction, as the narrow focus range will result in some out-of-focus areas.

Thus, if the scene you want to capture involves scenery at the foot of the mountain, or mountains with flowing streams in the background, for example, you may want to try setting your aperture to f/11. This should effectively ensure that the elements from the middle ground to the background of your image remain in focus. 

Do note that in Aperture-priority AE mode, using such a narrow aperture setting in low light conditions may cause shutter speed to slow down. In order to prevent this from affecting the sharpness of your image, increase the ISO speed so that the shutter speed does not slow down, and use a tripod mount whenever possible.

Aperture setting f/11 works best when combined with a composition technique that helps to bring out depth, like those in this article:
Compositions Exuding a Sense of Dimensionality and Depth

f/11/ 1/400sec/ ISO 400
Shot at f/11. The image is clear and in focus, from the rocks in the foreground to the peak in the background.


f/4/ 1/4000sec/ ISO 400
Shot at f/4. The rocks appear blurred when magnified and the depiction is somewhat inadequate.

Keen to take it further with f/11? Here are some more Tips for Capturing Impressive Landscapes!

Key Point

Set the white balance to "Daylight" to shoot captivating scenes in the evening

Capture the colours of the evening sky with the white balance set to "Daylight". This emphasises the yellowness of the sun, while creating a dramatic finish to the picture.

For more about using white balance, check out this article:
White Balance Basics to Achieve Your Desired Colour Tone

f/8/ 1/40sec/ ISO 400
WB "Auto": Shot with WB set to "Auto". Photo-finishing with the yellow tones suppressed. The blue tone is slightly strong.


f/8/ 1/40sec/ ISO 400
WB "Daylight": Shot with WB set to "Daylight". The reddish sky appears to contain a bit more yellow. The effect is close to the actual scene seen.


Setting to f/11 in aperture-priority AE Mode *For EOS 700D

1. Set the camera to [Av] mode

Turn "ON" the power supply and adjust the Mode Dial to the [Av] mode.


2. Turn the Main Dial

Turn the Main Dial to change the f-number.


3. Check that the f-number can be set to “F11”

Check that "F11" appears in the area circled out as shown on the rear LCD screen. Take the picture after confirming.


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Teppei Kohno


Born in Tokyo in 1976, Kohno graduated with a Social Work degree from the Department of Sociology of Meiji Gakuin University, and apprenticed with photographer Masato Terauchi. He contributed to the first issue of photography magazine PHaT PHOTO and became an independent photographer after that, in 2003. The author of many books, Kohno not only shoots all sorts of commercial photographs, but also writes prolifically for camera and other magazines.