Just in case I didn’t convince you to at least give manual shooting a shot with your DSLR two weeks ago, here’s one last attempt.
I shot this first photo in Auto mode on my camera (which, honestly, was probably the first time my camera has been switched to that setting). I did turn off the on-camera flash (so it wasn’t completely in Auto mode) because I am not a fan of on-camera flashes and prefer using natural light as long as it’s available – which it was.
F 3.3, 1/45, ISO 800
What a blurry mess!
This second photo was taken in Manual mode; the way I take all my photos. I manually adjusted the Shutter Speed, the Aperture, and the ISO to create the photo the way I wanted.
F 1.8, 1/90, ISO 640
Much better, huh?
Now on to the technical stuff. Notice the camera settings that were chosen by my camera while in Auto mode in the first photo, and compare them to the second. If you need a quick refresher on what all the numbers mean, this post may help you.
ISO: The camera choose a higher ISO than I did. Because it was the afternoon and my living room only has north and east facing windows, there wasn’t a ton of light to work with, but I knew I could still make it work without upping my ISO too much by fiddling with the aperture and shutter speed. The camera choose 800 for the ISO to make up for the lack of natural light, but I typically like to keep my ISO below 640 to avoid too much graininess in my photos.
Aperture: I shoot with small apertures for a large majority of my photos. I can’t tell you why the camera choose to raise the aperture so high (F 3.3), but in my opinion, it wasn’t necessary. I wanted a shallow depth of field and by lowering the aperture, I didn’t need to choose such a high ISO. Win, win.
Finally, Shutter Speed: Due to the high aperture setting the camera chose in Auto mode, it had to choose a slow shutter speed in order create a correctly exposed photo. As you can see, 1/45 of a second captured quite a bit of motion in the photo. Normally, I wouldn’t go longer than 1/125 of a second for my shutter speed when shooting my always-moving toddler, but I took a risk and dropped it to 1/90 of a second since he was actually sitting still for once.
I definitely wouldn’t have gone any longer than 1/90 of a second though, and if my photos were looking underexposed, I would have gone back and raised the ISO rather than lengthening the time my shutter was open any further. Sure, I still captured a little bit of motion in my nieces hand, but not nearly as much as when I put the camera in Auto mode.
Now, I’m definitely not saying that every time you take a picture in Auto Mode, it will be horrible. That’s simply not true. But there are numerous situations where you can be smarter than your camera, and choose the right settings for the photo you are hoping to capture. Sometimes, a blurred image is exactly what you want! But don’t you want to be the person deciding that rather than leaving it up to a piece of equipment? Just something to ponder.
Next week: My Favorite Focusing Technique
Thursday Photo Thoughts is a series focusing on bettering your photography. I’d be more than happy to answer any photography questions you have, just email me. View all my Thursday Photo Thoughts posts here.