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Aperture-Priority Technique #9: Getting Sharp Depictions of Landscapes from Foreground to Background

There might be times when you want to enlarge the subject in the foreground while clearly capturing the background. In such a situation, choose f/16 to ensure that on all the subjects from the foreground to the background remain in focus. (Reported by: Teppei Kohno)

f/16, 1/100 sec., ISO 400


Taking solid pictures of a foreground subject as well as a distant background

In a previous article, we recommended using f/11 for capturing grand landscapes with a deep depth of field. However, there may be times where for purposes of composition or otherwise, you may want to enlarge a subject in the foreground as well. In such cases, f/11 will probably not allow you to keep both the foreground subject and the background in sharp focus.

For such cases, you will want to use a narrower aperture instead. Most professional photographers would use f/16 as a rule of thumb. Although the camera will probably not be able to display its full depictive power due to some degree of diffraction, you can still obtain a sharp photo with all areas in focus. However, keep in mind that the shutter speed will slow down as a result. You may want to set an appropriate ISO speed to pre-empt that, and take care to make sure that the camera can achieve the required shutter speed.

f/16, 1/400 sec., ISO 400
The beach scene looks clear with all areas in focus.


f/5, 1/2500 sec., ISO 400
The plant in the foreground is the only discernible main subject while the beach at the back is blurred. The boats at the back are also indistinct.

For one more case study, see the example of the World Heritage site in this article: 
Irresistible Tips from Professionals in Travel Photography

Key Point

Accentuating starbursts with f/16

When you increase the aperture value and narrow the aperture, the streaks of light appear long and sharp. These streaks of light are known as starbursts. When shooting scenery, starbursts occur when a light source such as the sun is included in the picture, serving as a highlight of the photo. Let's keep this in mind when shooting such scenes.

f/3.5, 1/4000 sec., ISO 800
Shot at f/3.5. The area around the sun is bright, resulting in flaring and making the subject look dim.

f/16, 1/320 sec., ISO 800
Shot at f/16. The sunlight turns into sparkling starburst effect, allowing me to accentuate the photo.


Setting to f/16 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 [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 “F16”

Check that "F16" appears in the area circled out as shown on the rear LCD screen. Take the picture after confirming.


Some of the stunning photos by landscape photographer Edwin Martinez in this Photographer's Blog article were taken at f/16. Check them out!


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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.