Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Photography Tips From A Beginner...Camera Modes.

I've been thinking a bit about my photography journey and how much I have learned over the last couple of years, particularly thanks to the internet and all the free tips and tutorials there are. I decided I wanted to write a little series of my own photography tips in my own words to try and make it easier for other beginners out there. Little bitesize nuggets of info that are simple to understand and remember. Hopefully this will be the start of a monthly series here on Magpie and Hen.

So I've been spending alot of time lately with my new favourite toy, my Canon 700d. Someday I would love to own something like a full frame Canon 5d Mark III but the chances are pretty darn slim. As a photography enthusiast (read...junkie) I simply can't justify dropping a couple of grand or more on a camera. So until I win the lottery I figure I will just keep snapping away with what I've got and learn how to use it to its fullest potential. 

Since buying the 700d in June I've taken over 3000 photos. I literally pick up my camera almost every single day. I think my photography is getting better, I'm starting to understand what aperture, ISO and shutter speed are and how they all relate to each other. I've read a ton of books and online tutorials and I'm really enjoying the learning process.
One of the things I keep reading over and over again is how important it is to shoot in manual mode...and honestly...I don't agree.

Now, please don't get me wrong, I absolutely think learning how to shoot in manual mode is truly one of the best things you can do for your photography.

That being said, I don't think that manual mode is the be all and end all of photography. When you are starting out it can be very hard to figure out which settings to use and so very disheartening when your pictures don't turn out the way you want them to.

I decided that it would be better for me to learn what the different modes on my camera were for and learn how to use them to their fullest before moving to manual.

Here's a little rundown on what I figured out so far and what a few of the letters on the mode dial stand for:

P  (both Canon and Nikon) - Program Mode - this mode is alot like automatic mode, its sets all the settings for you but allows you to change certain settings like exposure compensation and whether to use the flash.

Av (A in Nikon) - Aperture Value Priority - Gives the user control over the aperture and the camera assigns the right shutter speed to achieve a correct exposure.

TV (S in Nikon) - Time Value Priority - This mode enables the user to choose a shutter speed to match the situation and the camera sets the aperture for you.

So which mode do you use for which situation?

Well here is what I do....when I know I'm going to be taking pictures of kids or our dog running around or maybe even a sports game, then I know I'm going to want freeze the action in a split second. This is when you want to use TV (S in Nikon), the shutter priority mode. Choosing a nice quick shutter speed of 1/250th or faster will keep your pictures sharp.

Pretty much the entire rest of the time I use aperture value priority (AV in Canon, A in Nikon) and set it to the widest aperture I can. I have Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, which has a fast maximum aperture of f/1.8, this works great indoors for parties as it sucks in tons of light so you get nice clear photos. Using a wide aperture gives you a blurry background behind your point of focus, this is called a narrow depth of field. If you are shooting lots of people then a slightly narrower aperture will give you a larger depth of field and allow you to keep more of the scene in focus, f/8 or f/11 would work well but the keep in mind the the higher the f number the narrower the aperture, which means your camera won't be letting in as much light resulting in darker photos.

All that being said, there are times that I use manual mode. One of the things about manual mode is that you have to continually change your settings as the environment you are shooting in changes and as a novice this is pretty tricky. However, when shooting something that it is completely within your control, where you can choose the lighting and it is a still subject that isn't going to run away from you, then this is the time to bust out manual and get playing with those settings. You can learn an awful lot just by snapping, changing a setting, snapping again and figuring out what changed.

So there you have it, my first post on photography. I know that shooting in manual will get the best out of my camera but learning which mode to use at the right time has really made a huge difference to my pictures and for now that is enough. 

Does anyone have any questions they would like answered? Or any of their own tips and tricks to help me shoot smarter? Drop me a line in the comments below and I'll get right back to you :)


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