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Aperture-Priority AE Technique #6: A Useful Aperture Setting for Street Photography

Want to take even better street photographs? Here’s an f-number that allows you to make full use of photo opportunities - f/5.6. With an appropriate depth of field, it can be used in a wide range of scenes, from close-ups to telephoto shots. (Reported by: Teppei Kohno)

f/5.6, 1/640sec, ISO 200


Achieve an appropriate shutter speed and bokeh effect

While taking walks or on the streets during street photography, you will find yourself pointing your camera at various objects. Having to change your camera settings every time you take a shot would inadvertently cause you to miss out on a lot of photo opportunities.

To handle such rapid changes, why not try fixing your f-number at f/5.6 in aperture-priority AE mode? You will be able to capture a lot of subjects that are right in front of you as well as those at a certain distance away with a suitable bokeh effect. Moreover, f/5.6 also allows you to shoot at a faster shutter speed. For example, the photo at the top of the page was taken with a shutter speed of 1/640 sec at f/5.6.

If you are doing photoshoots in similar situations during daytime, you can concentrate on your shot even during spontaneous photo opportunities, without worrying about camera shake. The image quality is sharper compared to pictures taken at maximum aperture, so get ready to be amazed by the sharpness of the image within the focal plane when checking your photos.


f/5.6, 1/1600sec, ISO 200
Shot at f/5.6. A natural-looking street shot, since there is only a very mild bokeh effect to it.



f/2.2, 1/8000sec, ISO 200
Shot at f/2.2. A somewhat unnatural image, due to the extremely narrow area in focus.


Key Point

Draw out the idea of motion in street photography with a diagonal composition

The photo at the top was taken with the vertical line created by the building and the level ground in mind. Showing the vertical and horizontal axes in a picture is one of the basics of street photography. 

Once you have mastered this, let's try creating a diagonal composition instead. You can make your shot look more dynamic simply by tilting your camera. The technique is to tilt the horizontal and vertical lines in the screen.

For more information about diagonal composition, check out this article:
Simple But Essential Compositions (Part 2):Centre Composition & Diagonal Composition

f/2.2, 1/1600sec, ISO 100
Shot taken with the pedestrian crossing placed horizontally. The balance is good but there is no sense of motion.


f/2.2, 1/1000sec, ISO 100
Shot taken with the pedestrian crossing tilted. The white lines of the pedestrian crossing are emphasised, imparting a sense of rhythm to the photo.


Setting to f/5.6 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 “F5.6”

Check that "F5.6" 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.