September Workshop: Taking Your Camera Off Auto


Presented by Doug Wade

In Auto Mode your camera creates a pictures that is technically correct but isn’t always flattering to the subject.  So play, be creative and get to know your camera and all that it can do for you.  Learn what every button does and how to undo them.  This is by no means the end all be all of info just a little bit so you won’t be scared to play! Happy Shooting!   A note of advice – probably not a good time to play when you’re the designated photographer for an event.  Hmm, wonder how we know this?

Stops – moving up or down one setting level – to go from ISO 100 to  ISO 200 is one stop up, going from f 5.6 to f2.8 is going down one stop in aperture

JPEG – a file type for pictures that your camera can take.  It is a smaller image with a lot of the data thrown away or not captured at all.  Most software is jpeg compatible

RAW – a file type for pictures that your camera can take.  Not all cameras are able to do RAW.  This is a larger format with more data retained.  With more data you can fix things easily in post processing.  Not all software is RAW compatible and RAW files are different for each camera manufacturer.

White Balance – Allows the camera to adjust or compensate for the temperature of the light to make it white which the eye naturally does.  Ever taken a picture that has a blue or yellow overcast in it?  That’s a white balance issue.  Again not all cameras allow you to change settings for this – does yours?  Some have automatic settings like for sunlight vs incandescent light and some also let you take meter readings to get it just right. 

ISO – how sensitive the sensors are to the amount of light present. Typically measured in 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600  (of course the more complex the camera the more settings you’ll have) Typically shooting outdoors in sunlight takes a lower ISO versus indoors which needs a higher ISO.  Having an ISO that is too high will introduce “noise” or graininess in your photo.  Sometimes however a high ISO is necessary to get the camera to even take a shot like at the Aquarium of the Pacific or inside Carlsbad Caverns. 

Depth of Field – How much of your picture is in focus – this is easily demonstrated where a flower in the foreground is in focus and the rest of the shot is blurry that’s a narrow depth of field

Aperture – deals with the actual size of opening for the lens. Measured in f 2.8, f5.6, f8, f11 (depending on the actual lens you’re using will determine how many f “stops” you’ll have) The bigger the number the smaller the opening. 

Shutter Speed – deals with how long or short of an amount of time the lens is open.  The larger the number (or denominator) the shorter the time the lens stays open and the less motion blur in your image.  Typically in a bright outdoors shoot you will use a higher shutter speed to cut the amount of light coming into your lens.  Indoors with artificial light or in low light settings outside you’ll want the lens to stay open long so you’ll have a slower shutter speed – just know that the opportunity for subject matter motion blur increases when you do this. 

Priority Modes – Allows you to manipulate one aspect of your camera while the camera uses its brain and takes care of the rest. 

Shutter Priority – Used when motion needs to be frozen or intentionally blurred.  Camera controls aperture and depth of field

Aperture Priority – Camera picks shutter speed which there are more settings of so it’s less likely the camera will make a mistake LOL 

Manual – You control everything!  Keep in mind when setting up shots for a panorama they all need to be at the same shutter speed and aperture

Icon Modes – some cameras have cute little pictures of flower, mountain, face, running person etc.  These are like priority modes in that the camera takes care of the settings that are most common for these types of situations.

Flower/ macro mode – Used for small objects, flowers, insects.  Focusing is difficult so keep the subject parallel to the lens and all subjects in the shot parallel to each other.  Be careful when using flash in this mode

Landscape mode – Great for distance shots.  Allows as much of the scene to be in focus.  So be careful of motion blur.  A great tip – hold your breath when releasing the shutter or place the camera on something sturdy like a fence post, car or oh yeah a tripod.

Night mode – For shooting in low light situations.  It has a slow shutter speed and helps capture your background in detail while firing the flash to light your foreground

Portrait – For taking pictures of one person.  Zoom in or walk closer to subject.  If shooting in to the sun fire your flash to add light on to their face.  Plus the flash puts a catch light in their eyes. 

Sports – For catching things moving quickly. Increases shutter speed.  Allows you to pan your camera with the subject or pre-focus on a spot where your subject will be and capture it as it passes through. 

Shhhh – a little secret – if you become a student with an ID card, even at the local community college, you gain access to the spectacular student discounts that Adobe and other software companies provide. 

Photos by Terri Garner

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