Monday, November 14, 2011

Photography Tips: For you Auto-Users

I was so glad that so many of you entered last week to win a copy of Say No to Auto!

(If you didn't win it, you might just want to head on over and purchase a copy. It is really great information and a very affordable little guide!)

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Now, for those of you who are still using the Auto setting exclusively, let me just say that I understand. Learning to shoot in Manual is not easy. It's not hard either, but it does require a bit of reading, a bit of experimenting, and quite a bit of practicing. But you can do it!!

In the meantime, how about some baby steps away from Auto? You can definitely do that!

Now, in my humble opinion, Auto mode on your camera is a bit like all-purpose cleaner. Have you ever found an all purpose cleaner that actually does a superior job at cleaning everything? I haven't. I think that all-purpse cleaners, in their attempt to include everything, end up not being very good at anything.

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(image source)

The Auto mode on your camera is a bit like this. It seems like the "all purpse" setting. But what do your photos look like if you're trying to take portraits on Auto? Yuck. Children running? Bleh. Landscapes? Meh. None of it is that great. Poor Auto, it doesn't seem very all-purpose to me.


(image source)

Now this is not entirely Auto's fault.

If you are in your backyard taking a picture of a beautiful autumn tree, your settings would be much different than if you were taking a close up photo of your child's face sitting in front of that same tree. Your settings would be equally different if your child was running around after the soccer ball than if they were sitting on a blanket reading.

The Auto setting doesn't know what you're trying to get a picture of, so it just gives it's best guess. You need to give your camera some help to get the picture that you want.

If you aren't ready to make the big jump from Auto to Manual this second, that's okay. How about baby steps? Let's take a step away from Auto, and start using the other settings, the ones that actually tell your camera what type of picture you are trying to get.

Now, if you're at your kid's soccer game and trying to get some great pictures of the action, don't use Auto, use Sports Mode.

This uses a fast shutter speed, continuous shooting (where you hold down the button and your camera will just keep taking shot after shot), and it will continually adjust the focus to follow the moving subject.

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(Nikon on left, Canon on right)

If you're trying to get a picture of your backyard in all of it's beautiful autumn glory, don't use Auto, use Landscape Mode.

This uses a small aperture to make sure the details of your picture are in focus, and a slower shutter speed to ensure that there is still enough light for your shot to be properly exposed.

Picnik collagelandscape

If you're taking a picture of your sweet baby playing on a blanket in the backyard, don't use Auto, use Portrait Mode.

This uses a wide Aperture so that your baby's sweet face will be crisp and clear, but the background behind him will be softly blurred.

Picnik collageperson

If you're taking a picture of the petals of a flower, don't use Auto, use Macro Mode.

This switches your camera into a special close focus mode and will use a wider aperture to keep the front petal clear while blurring out the back petals.

Picnik collageflower

If you aren't entirely sure which setting to use, unless your subject is running, try the No Flash Mode.

This uses a wide aperture and a higher ISO setting to give you the best lighting possible without the use of your flash, which is what you want in most circumstances.

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Now, these are not all of the settings on your camera, some cameras will have more and some will have less, but these are the most often used settings.

This moral of the story is, it's okay if you don't want to shoot on Manual right now, but in the very least, STOP USING YOUR AUTO SETTING!

I'm so excited to talk through some different photography things with you in the next few weeks! We'll be going over camera equipment, natural lighting, flash photography, bouncing your flash, composition ideas and lots more! I can't wait!

As always, happy Monday!

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Rachel November 14, 2011 at 6:39 PM  

Thank You Erin. I am fairly new to the DSLR world and am trying to learn more. I long to get away from Auto!

Pati @ A Crafty Escape November 14, 2011 at 7:44 PM  

I've got a lot to learn about this subject and feel like this is a good place to start. I'm going to play around with my camera this week- thanks for the inspiration!

P.S. Come by my blog for a chance to win 25 FREE Shutterfly Holiday Cards:

Jaedyn November 14, 2011 at 10:23 PM  

I have been so frustrated with my camera... it's nice (it's a Canon PowerShot SX10) but I am always getting blurry pictures unless the light is JUST RIGHT. And it seems to be the case on multiple settings. I'm really not as knowledgeable as I'd like to be on all the settings and stuff, but I do know everything you said to use in this post. My camera also has a nighttime mode, P, TV, Av, Manual, and Custom mode. I don't use those much because I feel lost... I know my camera is smarter than me. lol

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