05-06-2009 04:28 PM
Moving Away From Auto-Exposure
Auto-exposure mode on your camera does provide generally good photographs, but taking full advantage of the more advanced capabilities of your digital camera will provide even better results. Most modern camera’s have a number of preset exposure modes, and some more advanced cameras’ (especially DSLR’s) have two semi-manual exposure modes and full manual exposure control.
The most common preset is the portrait setting. This mode should have the flash on at all times in case it is needed for correct exposure, as well as isolating the subject in a way that the background and foreground are out of focus and only the subject is in focus.
Another common preset is the action setting. As the name implies this is a great setting to use if you are photographing sports, or any subject that is moving fast and you want to stop its action.
Landscape preset is also a common preset mode on modern cameras. This mode should have the flash off since the subject is most often outside and well lit, and this mode should also keep detail in the foreground and especially the background in focus.
For those of you that like taking images of small subjects (i.e. flowers) most digital cameras also have a preset called macro mode. Macro mode should have the flash on at all times since at higher magnifications even the slightest movement of the subject will blur the image. The flash not only effectively stops the movement of the subject but also evenly illuminates the subject.
Night mode as the name implies is a preset some camera’s have for taking photographs at night. This mode is generally the least useful preset due to the fact that nighttime photography is perhaps the most challenging photography there is. This mode will turn the flash off, and also turn what’s called noise reduction on. Noise reduction is a setting that helps eliminate the digital noise that is caused by low levels of light on digital camera sensors.
Most DSLR’s and some more advanced point and shoot cameras have two semi-manual modes and full manual mode. The semi-manual modes are aperture priority which generally controls what is in focus by adjusting the aperture (the size of the opening in the lens), and shutter priority controls how long the shutter is open which either will blur the image or stop action. The last mode is full manual which allows the user to control both the shutter and the aperture to get the correct exposure allowing the greatest creative control over your images, but requiring the most expertise.
Moving Away From Auto-Flash
Turn off your Auto-Flash
Most digital camera’s while set on auto-flash, especially point and shoot cameras, don’t allow the user to choose when the flash is on or off. This will usually produce adequately exposed images, but just because your subject is correctly exposed doesn’t mean it’s lighted how it should be. Controlling how you light your subject will make the difference between good images and great ones. To do this you should definitely consider moving away from auto-flash.
When shooting outdoors the camera might read that there is enough light and not fire the flash, but if your shooting a subject that is back lit or top lit a small amount of flash will light up your subject and provide superior results ( this is called fill flash ).
Red eye reduction
Another flash setting that most cameras provide is red eye reduction. This setting will fire a series of flashes at your subject to contract their pupils so the flash doesn’t reflect the red from their retinas back to the sensor. This mode works fairly well, but due to the time needed for the pre flashes your subject often will have changed by the time the image is actually taken.
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