Taking your camera off auto #photography

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My friend is considering buying a DSLR, he usually shoots on auto or uses one of the scene settings. With a DSLR he can get sharper pictures if he takes it off auto and uses the manual settings to get sharper pictures.

The slight blur in many photos is usually caused by lack of light. The camera sets the aperture wide and the shutter speed quite slow to compensate and so the slightest movement of the subject or the camera will produce blur.


I took this shot in the park last week. I'm trying to promote our wonderful Victorian Park with a Facebook page. It doesn't look very dark, does it? The sun was going down and so I needed to get some idea of how much light I had. I can't trust my eyes because as the light fades the pupils of my eyes dilate to let in more light. My eyes use a wide aperture in low light too! I set my camera on shutter speed priority (S) at 1/100 of a second and the camera set my aperture on 3.5 so there wasn't enough light for that shot. I increased my ISO to 400 from 100 and that effectively quadrupled the sensitivity of my sensor. I then checked again and got F8 and that was narrow enough for the shot. I took the shot on F8 and the shutter speed was 1/40 of a second, so it had become even darker. It was quite still or an ISO of 800 or even higher would have been appropriate if there had been movement in the shot.

The sun broke through a cloud and so I had more light and I wanted to capture those autumn colours. I should have chosen a narrow aperture than F8 but continued on the same setting and the camera set the shutter speed on 1/200 of a second. The leaves in the foreground together with the path give the shot depth but a narrower aperture would have brought the trees in the background more in focus. I needed to be quick and take the shot before the couple sitting on the bench moved on! Again you have to take your camera off auto to get shots like this in low light.


I went to Tesco on Saturday to take photos of a fundraising event for Sam's Dream and now there was more movement to cope with and so I really did need faster shutter speeds. The light was poor and so I set the ISO on 400 again and this was shot at F8 which gave me a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second. It is better to avoid shooting towards a window if you can.


Off auto

You have to go off auto for a shot like this, but you might get the shot on a scene mode like the portrait setting. I didn't have to time to change my settings and so I took the shot at F9, the aperture narrows as you zoom in. The narrower aperture took the shutter speed down to 1/80 of a second. That isn't fast enough to freeze the movement but I quite like the blur in this shot. Ideally, this should have been shot wide open which would have given me a much faster shutter speed.

When you take your camera off auto and use the manual settings rather than the scene settings, you can get much better shots but it does take practice and a lot more judgement. As you get the experience changing settings is quicker too. I have a checklist but I'm still far too slow. I need to be quicker especially at events.

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