Automatic Shooting Modes in Digital Photography - dummies

Automatic Shooting Modes in Digital Photography

Automatic shooting modes can be very helpful in digital photography. Although the number and type of automatic exposure modes vary from camera to camera, most models now offer these options:

  • Auto mode: This setting is designed to deliver good results no matter what your subject. Think of it as one-size-fits-all shooting. Some cameras also have an Auto Flash Off setting, which is just like Full Auto but with the flash disabled. (It’s designed for shooting in places that don’t permit flash, such as most museums.)
  • Scene modes: These modes enable you to take a little more artistic control over your images but still enjoy automatic shooting. Scene modes are designed to produce the picture characteristics traditionally found in certain types of photographs, such as portraits and action shots.
  • Special-effects modes: As the title implies, these modes automatically apply special effects, such as giving a photo a watercolor look or a grainy, black-and-white appearance.

Be wary of your camera’s special-effects modes. These modes can get people into trouble. Here’s the problem: If you like the composition and subject of an image that you take in effects mode but aren’t keen on the effect itself, you’re stuck — you can’t remove the effect from the image. If you do shoot in effects mode, take a couple snaps of the subject in Auto mode or another non-effects mode as well.

You can always apply an effect to a copy of the normal photo, if you like. In fact, some cameras offer built-in editing tools that enable you to apply effects to a copy of an existing image. You also can find countless apps and photo programs that enable you to add special effects to photos after you download them to your computer or another device.

One other word of advice before you move on: Automatic exposure modes are helpful in that you don’t have to know much about photography or worry about setting a bunch of controls before you shoot. But you typically lose access to features that may be helpful for capturing your subject. For example, the camera usually decides whether a flash is needed, and you can’t override that decision. You also may not be able to tweak color, focus, or exposure. Sometimes, you can’t even access the camera’s entire cadre of menu options in automatic modes.

If your camera offers more advanced exposure modes, such as programmed autoexposure, aperture-priority autoexposure, shutter-priority autoexposure, or manual exposure, it’s worth your time to learn how to use them. They may take a while to fully grasp, but they make your life easier in the long run because you can easily tweak exposure, color, and focus settings to precisely suit your subject.