Beginners Photography – Discover The Automatic Modes On Your Digital Slr
To beginners, photography gives you an amazing opportunity to picture the world in a completely new way. With access to a Digital SLR, the potential for stunning pictures is literally in your hands. But if you are new to using one, it can seem daunting. In time, for truly stunning shots, you should master manual settings. But, initially, it makes sense to practice with Automatic Modes. Using these effectively will capture great-looking shots, and allow you to focus your energies on other important aspects of your photographs.
The automatic modes on your Shooting Mode dial are shown as a series of icons. Selecting one of these prepares the camera for specific situations. Let’s look at 4 Automatic Modes and the situations you would use them in.
Full Auto Mode – blank rectangle icon. This mode is the most basic – point and shoot. Your DSLR will assume that what you want to focus on the object closest to the camera. Press the shutter button halfway down, and you will see that, in the viewfinder, a focus point is highlighted. You can now recompose your picture, if necessary, and complete the shutter press. Job done! The camera will take care of any exposure, or flash, decisions. Please refer to one of my previous beginner’s photography articles for more on composition.
Portrait Mode – face icon. When taking a portrait, you don’t want the background distracting from your subject. Choosing Portrait Mode will cause the camera to select a larger aperture, in turn creating a narrower depth of field. This effectively blurs the background and places the attention on your subject. In portrait mode, use a lens of length 50mm or longer. This will give a natural feel, and aid in keeping the depth of field narrow.
Landscape Mode – mountain icon. Unsurprisingly, selecting this mode prepares the camera for a landscape image. Emphasis is placed on the picture style, with a resultant attempt to boost greens or blues in the picture. This make sense, in order to make trees, grass and skies appear more colourful. Landscape Mode also boosts the picture’s sharpness. The lowest possible ISO is automatically applied, which keeps any “noise” to a minimum. A small aperture will be chosen, to allow for a greater depth of field.
Close-up Mode – flower icon. This mode is designed to capture small details, for example when photographing flowers, plants or insects. If using a zoom lens, this won’t support “real” macro settings – but you can still get some acceptable close-up shots. To achieve this, move yourself as close as possible to the subject – Close-up Mode will help you obtain more than decent levels of sharp focus. The camera will select a small aperture, whilst keeping shutter speed fast. The ISO will be raised (which may give some “noise”) or the flash may deploy (with the possible result of harsh shadows).
So you can see that practicing with Automatic Modes can be a key aspect of beginners photography. It does allow you to focus your energy on other important and creative elements of your photograph. Once you have mastered composition, for example, you can try using manual settings. Watch out for a subsequent article where I will look at the remaining Automatic Modes.