Christmas is just around the corner and many people will be dusting off their cameras once again to take photographs of the family and friends. And a good majority of the cameras are always set on Automatic, letting the camera make all the important decisions concerning aperture, shutter speed, white balance, ISO and even where the camera is going to focus. And as a result, it generates consistent mediocre images !
If your camera is always set on Automatic, it’s time for you to take the leap and get a grip on that mode dial to improve your photography. Many mode dial, aside from the Auto setting, they offer settings for portrait, sports, landscape, etc. These are also Auto settings. Concentrate only on the P,T,A, and M for the next while and you’ll see your photography soar.
For general photography situations, leave the camera set on P. In this mode, the exposure is the same as in Auto, except now you can choose the area you want in focus, select the appropriate ISO and White Balance. As you raise up the ISO value, the more digital noise is generated in the image. As a rule, it’s better to choose an ISO setting as low as your situation allows so that the digital noise is kept at a minimum. For instance, if you are photographing outdoors in bright sunlight, use a low ISO value like 100. When you have to shoot inside an arena, you will need a higher value, maybe 1600 or 3200 or even higher if you need to also stop action with a faster shutter speed. White Balance is used to correct the colour of the light you are photographing in.
In the days of film, we had a choice of daylight or tungsten balance. We had to load the appropriate film into the camera. Now that we just change the setting, we have access to many, many colour settings. And sometimes when you want to be creative, you can use the White Balance settings as you would a collection of built-in colour filters. For instance, the tungsten filter colour is cyan so that when you are shooting in a tungsten room environment, the filter cools off the warm light values. Now if you use the tungsten filter in a situation where you are photographing snow outdoors,for instance, instead of the snow appearing just white, the filter will add a blue tint to the snow making it look much colder. In a similar way, if you are into photographing flowers outdoors, using the Cloudy setting gives the flowers a warmer appearance. Once you start to practice with these settings, a whole new world will open up for you. With the other 3 modes, all the above choices are also available.
With the T (Time) setting, you have the opportunity to choose a shutter speed, and the camera meter will figure out an appropriate aperture for the situation. This becomes important when you are photographing sports or wildlife and you want to stop action.
The A mode is for Aperture. You can choose an aperture opening, and the camera will figure out what shutter speed will give you the proper exposure. Generally, your aperture selection determines your depth of field; how out-of-focus the foreground and the background appears in the image.
And M is for Manual. You get to choose both the shutter speed and the aperture. I suggest you first learn to navigate the P, T and A first. It will still be a quantum leap over the Auto setting.
If you have any questions, e-mail me.