Taking Control

It is all very easy and it is supposed to be. Select AUTO on the camera and everything is taken care of; you just have to “point and shoot” to get perfect results every time – or are they?

By its very nature automatic mode is one giant compromise and pre-programmed decision process, none of which is under your control. Now that may not sound very troublesome and not worth worrying about but would you go into a car showroom and let the salesman choose which car you are going to buy or let your mum buy your clothes in a department store? In effect that is what you are doing with your images using auto; the camera decides everything apart from what is in the viewfinder.

There are plenty of occasions when auto will do just fine and the resulting image meets your needs and expectations. It is quick, it is reliable (most times) and it doesn’t require much thought or control adjusting. However, if you want to have an image that is beyond the average then you need to step in and take a degree of control over things. Just how much control is up to you and the sort of end result you are after. This doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” step by any means; it is very much a progressive journey and you can stop at any point without going all the way to the mystifying full manual control, a.k.a. “M”.

So what would you be taking control of? Well, quite a number of factors if you wished, but the major ones are likely to be exposure (often misnamed as “shutter speed”), lens aperture, sensor sensitivity (ISO setting), colour balance, exposure metering and focus point. Over the next few posts I’ll look at what each can do for you and why you should take control of it, starting with the first small step away from the sanctuary of Auto: Program (also known as scene mode).

Trust me, it is worth the effort.