If you start off with one small item or subject which catches your interest and start off with your camera in automatic setting, you can get a feel for the way the photographs normally look when you take them. Don’t delete these images however, and just keep them either on your memory until you’re done or upload them to your computer. Next, I would suggest that you keep the same subject as your main focus just for you to be able to tell the difference between shots, and switch to a semi-manual mode.
This will involve you going over to either shutter priority, or to aperture priority mode. With shutter priority mode you retain control over what your shutter speeds are. This is basically how long you want the shutter to stay open. The rest of it, principally the size of the aperture, is decided upon by your camera depending on a number of factors. With aperture priority mode you retain control over the size you open the lens aperture to.
The size of the aperture at the time of taking the photograph determines how much light is let into the camera. This in turn, along with the shutter will determine how well-lit your photograph is. If you let in too much light you’re overexposing your shot, and if you don’t let in enough light, you’re underexposing the shot.
This is what has happened if you find that in the end your pictures are too brightly white, or are too dark. And that’s why you would ideally want to control either the shutter or the aperture settings if not both. Like I said though, starting out with one on automatic and one on manual under your control is as good a place as any and you should start taking pictures fiddling with both modes.
Before we go any further though let me just say that for the most part aperture priority is used mainly when you want to change your depth of field. And shutter priority although can be used for the same thing, is used mainly by lots of semi-professional photographers for things like sports photography where you would want to control the speeds at which the shutter opens and closes.
Anyway after you get comfortable using the shutter priority and aperture priority settings, and you can see the difference between the automatic-mode taken photographs and the semi-manual taken photographs, you can then move on to fully-manual mode. This is where you start to control both the shutter and the aperture settings manually. Once you get used to the various dials and the methods of changing these, that part at least should become easier the more you use it.
The difficult part here though isn’t learning how to use your camera in manual mode, but how to take great photographs in manual mode. That’s why, if you’ve been at this for some time now, even though you might not have gone to fully-manual and are stuck on semi-manual like I was, it will still be easier for you to get the hang of things than it would be for a complete beginner or a person who’s been stuck perpetually in automatic mode. The reason for this is because if you at least tried to take some control over the settings then you also have some idea of what changing these settings will do for you pictures.
You’ll know that if you change the aperture setting one stop ether way you’ll get slightly different picture, and the same goes with the shutter speeds. But if you’re new to photography or new to changing the settings then I have to be blunt and say that you won’t have the faintest clue what affects you will wreak by changing these settings. And that’s where the difficulty comes in. To fully understand and appreciate everything you’re going to need to have experience on your side.
Unfortunately experience doesn’t come out of a manual, and it’s not something that you can learn at the drop of a hat. Experience comes with trial and error, and in the case of photography, your being able to see the differences in your photographs each time you change a setting. So taking the one weekend off to learn your camera and get acquainted with manual mode won’t make you a master photographer overnight, but it will get you started off on the right track.
As you can see photography is a work in progress and by going through the steps that I just outlined for you and saving your work in the various different modes you can see for yourself the difference in quality over most of the photographs.
About the Author
Muna wa Wanjiru is a Web Administrator and has been Researching and Reporting on Digital Photography for years. For more information on Aperture Priority, visit his site at Aperture Priority
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