Dials and settings for cities
The shooting mode most suited to capturing city scenes and architecture is Aperture priority (A or Av on the mode dial), as this lets you easily affect the depth of field in a scene. Within Aperture priority, you take control of the opening in the lens, indicated by the f/number, and also the ISO, which dictates the sensitivity of your sensor. The shutter speed is automatically set by your camera to create a balanced exposure. To set up your camera to create a large depth of field which offers front to back sharpness, you need to select a narrow aperture – designated by a high f/number – like f/16. While this gives a deep zone of sharpness to capture detail, the narrow aperture lets less light through. The solution is to either increase your ISO to obtain a shutter speed fast enough to hand hold without encountering camera shake, but accept you’ll be introducing Noise to the shot and lowering the sharpness. Or, keep the ISO low to maximise image quality, and use a tripod to keep your camera steady during slower exposures. For the most pleasing images, it’s better to use a tripod rather than a higher ISO, but sometimes it’s not always possible, and so a compromise must be made.
Although a tripod’s primary aim is to keep the camera stable and avoid the blur of camera shake, it also has a number of other secondary benefits. By setting up in this way it allows you to fine-tune the composition, paying more attention to horizontal lines and clutter around the edges of the frame. Using a tripod also slows your entire shooting process down, and when you’re working at a gentler pace you’re more likely to notice other elements to tie into the shot as you build the composition.
When setting up a shot on a tripod, it’s also often best to use Manual focus. Not only is it more accurate – especially in low light situations like night shooting – it stays locked once set. Autofocus needs to be set every time a new shot is taken, and as the distance between your camera and subject isn’t altering this task is unecesarry. AF systems can also be fooled if another object enters the frame, and the focus can be set inaccurately. So switch your focusing to it’s M/MF setting, and activate your camera’s Live View. Use the magnify tools to zoom into an area of detail in the image, and rotate the focusing ring to set your desired focus – easy!
Setting your camera to Aperture priority is the best way to take control when shooting cities.