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Tips & Tutorials >> All Tips & Tutorials

Aperture-Priority Technique #7: Aperture Settings for Sharp Depictions of Nightscapes

If you want to take pictures of large subjects, such as factories at night, that are a slight distance away, we recommend using f/8. The image that you get will have very few blurred areas, with a sharp, finely detailed texture throughout the entire frame. It’s also worth noting that f/8 is an ideal aperture setting not just for shooting natural landscapes, but also for street photography. (Reported by: Teppei Kohno)

f/8, 13sec, ISO 400


With f/8, you can expect sharp image quality across the entire image

When photographing streets, buildings and factories, what you want is to depict concrete and metal textures in a clear and sharp manner. This is where the f/8 aperture setting comes into play. With this setting, as long as the subject matter is some distance away, the deep depth of field will ensure that is entirely in focus. It will even capture the texture of the metallic areas properly, allowing an accurate overall depiction.

If the subject is far away, narrowing the aperture any more than f/8 will not make much of a difference to the depth of field. In fact, over-narrowing the aperture may even cause the image to lose its sharpness, with outlines appearing indistinct. This is called the diffraction phenomenon. Using f/8 prevents this phenomenon from taking place, which is why it is considered the ideal aperture setting for photographing faraway subjects.


f/2, 1/4sec, ISO 800
Shot at f/2. The depth of field is shallow, and the image does not look very sharp.


f/8, 4sec, ISO 800
Shot at f/8. The texture of the metal comes across very clearly.


f/22, 30sec, ISO 800
Shot at f/22. Although taken at a narrow aperture, the image appears blurry.



Achieve a sharp finish with ‘WB – Tungsten Light’

When the lighting around your subject has a unique colour cast, such as in the example at the top, it could also be fun to play around with the WB settings. You may even end up creating a photo that has a different visual effect from the actual scene. For nightscape photos like this one, we recommend the ‘Tungsten Light’ setting. This imparts a bluish hue, transforming the mechanical-looking factory nightscape into one with surreal and cold feel.


f/8, 13sec, ISO 250
WB-Auto: This has a somewhat surreal look, but there’s no uniqueness to it.


f/8, 13sec, ISO 250
WB-Tungsten Light: A futuristic feel. The hue contributes to the construction of the atmosphere.

If you need a primer on white balance basics, click here:
White Balance Basics to Achieve Your Desired Colour Tone

To learn a more advanced method of further customising the colours rendered even further, click here:
How to Render Colours with the White Balance Correction Function


Setting f/8 in Aperture Priority AE mode. For EOS 700D

1. Set the camera to [Av] mode


2. Turn the Main Dial


3.Check that the f-number is set at f/8

Check that “F8.0” is displayed in the area on the rear LCD screen indicated. When you have confirmed this, proceed to take your picture.


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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.