Photography Tips Part Three – Camera Shortcuts

Local lady in the markets, Durban, South Africa
Local lady in the markets, Durban, South Africa

So you now have a basic understanding on the nitty gritty. Or has it gone completely over your head? Quite possibly, unless you are using your camera all the time.

Not to worry. Most cameras have a range of handy short cuts which are there to help you out when you can’t remember which aperture, ISO or shutter speed to use.

Here are a few sneaky tips for you:

Is auto the best option?

If you have an option on your camera called ‘P’, use this over auto. This is the same as auto, but with ‘privileges’. It actually stands for ‘program.’ P will get you what you want, but you can also make changes to some of the settings.

P and Auto both allow the camera to choose the aperture and shutter speed. You can choose the ISO in P mode.

Did you know there are many short cuts on your camera to help you capture that perfect photo sooner?

Portrait Mode

This provides a shallow depth of field. It is not just used for close up portraits of people. It is great for photos where you may want to focus on one things and the rest of the image is blurred.

E.g. If you wanted to focus on one penguin in a group and have the rest blurred.

Landscape Mode

This setting uses a small aperture providing a greater depth of field. This is great not only for landscapes but also for if you are wanting to see everything in a row, for example, looking down a hallway, and wanting everything in focus.

It is great for scenery and provides depth for landscapes.

A or AV Mode

This is Aperture Priority mode. This allows maximum control without going fully manual. You choose the aperture and ISO and the camera figures out the rest.

Running Man

This is a fast shutter speed setting, used to stop movement. E.g. when shooting moving wildlife.

S, T or TV Mode

These are both shutter priority modes. You choose the shutter speed and ISO, the camera figures out the rest.

Exposure Compensation

Cameras are only programed to see grey. You can fool a camera by using exposure compensation. This is used when something is dark. A dark subject on a dark background.

To darken an image, go to the – side to darken.

To make white look white (i.e. when shooting ice or snow), add white by using the +. Alternatively, if you are shooting ice and snow, use the snow man setting. This will auto adjust for you and over expose the image making whites appear white. This should only be used when an image contains a lot of white.

Should I use polarising filters?

Polarising filters are used to remove reflection. They are great for shooting into the ocean, windows, or glass table tops.

Make the most of shadows – use shadows (like those of people standing in a line) to create an extra level of depth to your photos.

Do not use digital zoom. It makes your photos appear in poor quality as the camera is losing information. Images are often extremely pixelated.

Never delete images directly from your camera. Ensure you download them first and delete from your computer. This avoids data damage or more commonly known as ‘card error’ on the memory card and also helps keeps your photos in order.

Always shoot in RAW if this is an option for you.

If you aren’t quite ready to go full manual, use P and then gradually move into A mode (aperture priority).